It was a big week over here with the revelation that we are having another little boy, and then deciding on said little boy’s name within about 12 hours of said revelation, and my God, the whole pregnancy endeavor took a wild flying leap out of the figurative-and-hypothetical realm and is now solidly in the my God, my GOD, this is really really real.
And yet…I do this thing, I don’t know why, but when I am pregnant I get addicted to the worst-case scenario stories. Last time my husband would arrive home from work and find me parked on the couch, ice cream in hand, mesmerized by the birth shows on TLC and the Discovery Channel. And not the happy gingham-drenched I-gave-birth-in-the-master-bedroom A Baby Story, I’m talking about the drama-heavy When Childbirth Attacks! shows. The pre-eclampsia stories, the micro-preemies, the babies born with terrible, deadly birth defects. The shows were every “Up Next!” commercial bump included a shot of a clearly worried doctor flying into an operating room or an expectant mother turning away from the camera, drenched in sweat and tears.
“Why in the WORLD are you watching this stuff?” my husband would ask, clearly freaked out of his gourd after 15 mere seconds of bloody c-section footage. And I honestly don’t know why I watched it. I just sort of…needed to watch it.
He made me promise that I wouldn’t watch those shows this time, and I’ve kept that promise. He probably wouldn’t think much of my NEW hobby, however, which is basically the same thing, only in blog form.
“Dead baby blogs” is what one of my friends (and the keeper of such a blog herself) called them. “Stop reading us,” she ordered me, after she realized I was reading them while still in the first trimester and sobbing at my laptop every day. I didn’t listen.
Stillbirths. Placental abruptions. Incompetent cervixes. Terminations for medical reasons. High-risk multiples. Cord accidents. Waters breaking before viability. And the ever-terrifying “we just don’t even know what happened, but we are sorry for your loss nonetheless.” I can now recite a morbid anecdote for just about any horror story you’d like to discuss. I am like every awful episode of ER that ever involved a pregnant woman rolled into an all-day marathon.
I absolutely cannot explain this compulsion. I have no excuse for what, on the surface, probably seems like a disgusting penchant for emotional tourism. I read other parents’ pain, have myself a good heaving snotty sob on their behalf, and then wander off to contemplate my nursery and affectionately poke the wiggling, kicking little boy in my belly.
I just…need to know. I need to see that you can keep breathing after something like that happens.
Just knowing that horrible things can happen in pregnancy will never “prepare” you for them, if they happen to you. It won’t make things hurt less or or make you fold your hands quietly in resignation while the doctor delivers bad news. It does, however, remind me to cherish every moment I do get with my baby, even the uncomfortable “is it October yet?” moments. If something were to go wrong and these weeks of pregnancy were all I ever got to experience with this child, that wouldn’t make him less real. Less of my ever-so-loved-already son, who has his big brother’s mouth and his own name and his own place in our family.
I don’t want to sound trite or sappy here, or imply that I’m using other people’s pain to remind me to…I don’t know, put on a happy rainbow face or something. So I don’t really have a neat little conclusion here, except that one of the biggest surprises about pregnancy and parenthood is that you really do start to feel it all, in a way you’ve never experienced before. That happiness and sadness and fear and doubt and worry and joy and love are so unbelievably mixed and jumbled up together that you can’t separate them out anymore, and to ignore the bad is to do a disservice to the good.