Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm So Vain

I feel like this is a silly thing to feel that I have lost. And I don't know if it's more of a symptom of the problem, or its own problem. But here it is: I wish I hadn't lost my first pregnancy at 25 weeks so that I could have had the whole that I could have seen how small I might have carried that entire first pregnancy.

I have been known to be a little vain. This looks like vanity. And then I just feel worse for feeling something so superficial and unimportant.

But I feel it.

A friend is 18 weeks pregnant and said she has "no belly to speak of." And somehow, I am jealous. Or envious. I get those too mixed up. I just started feeling bad about not getting my first, tiny pregnancy all the way through.

I look at the picture of me pregnant with Blue at 25 weeks, and even in profile, I barely look pregnant. In the 3/4 view, pregnant.  

And I know that you sort of get what you get, genetically, with carrying big or small, high or low, with gaining a lot of weight or not gaining a lot of weight. (So I'm not really sure why we think small pregnant women are so virtuous.) But we all know that you pop out sooner--and sometimes farther--in subsequent pregnancies than in first ones. And I probably spent more weeks wishing I looked pregnant that first go around than I ever actually was. (I mean did. Look pregnant.) Then the second time I kept trying to convince myself I didn't have an obvious belly at 22 weeks. And I feel like my first pregnancy, and all that goes with it, was taken away. The cute, tininess of your first time. The blissful, invincible happiness that after the first trimester everything will be fine. But I focus now on the physical difference. I wonder then, is that what I really missed out on? Or is this just another way I missed out on having that baby? And that's what I really miss...that baby. But I can't shake this feeling that I really miss not having the tiny pregnancy.

People still told me I was small in months 7 and 8 and beyond with Sprout. Then I wonder, did my uterus stop stretching at that 25 weeks point, so that I am the same size I would have been with Blue at 7 months, 8 months? Like I'm trying to convince myself that I didn't miss out. But if that's the case then how could my uterus have been any bigger at 22 weeks with Sprout than it was at the 25 weeks point with Blue?

Photo evidence of the difference. I actually wore those pants with Blue at 25 weeks (above), whereas with Sprout I just squeezed myself into them for the benefit of the comparison photos. The comparison photos that I now hate.

Why do I care so much about this? Even Mr. E, who has been so wonderful and understanding about all these nuanced and confusing emotions, isn't empathizing.

Another blogger said recently that she was still so angry for being shortchanged when so many other people weren't. (I won't get into how I'm jealous or envious or whatever about the fact that she articulated the sentiment when I could not.) I think that pretty much nails it. Why does my friend get to have her tiny pregnancy and I don't? Why do other people get to have six kids with no losses and no problems* and I lose my first and it shatters me? I envy people who can't seem to stop having children. But I don't even want six kids! I just want to have had my first tiny pregnancy. God, what is wrong with me?

I just feel like I missed out. And it isn't fair. The whole ordeal of losing a baby--it isn't fair. I think I am feeling that more acutely now than before. I am mourning other losses, the ancillary ones that maybe I never focused on before. And maybe they are important. Or maybe I am just having a narcissist's meltdown.

*I know I don't know their story. Maybe they had six losses to go with their six living children. But the people with six kids usually make it seem pretty easy to have six kids.

Here, let's look at 20 week photos:
Can you guess which is which? Actually, I'm not even sure I can tell the difference. OK, so that's it, I am a vain narcissist. Dammit.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fantasy in Blue

I have been thinking about what my life would have been like if Blue had lived. Last summer when I made a drive across all of Pennsylvania, I thought about Blue and I was very sad and missing him and reliving everything I had gone through the summer before. This time I was driving over two hours one way to attend a five-minute hearing for work. I would fantasize to a certain point and then trail off and have to remind myself to keep going. Because I didn't want to keep thinking about this over and over and over. I wanted to think it out to the very end and then be done with it.

Mainly the fantasy involved a healthy version of Blue. He would have been born in DC in the middle of November 2011. His dad and I would have been slogging through a mostly unfulfilling relationship. I never imagined what the birth would have been like. Chris would have been there though. A low bar, I know. But I can say with confidence that he would have wanted to have been there.

I was making new friends in DC and connecting with old friends, including two new moms. But I realized how hard it would have been to see them, as they both lived in Virginia, which is like Brooklyn if you live in Manhattan. So close, and yet so far. Chris would have buried himself in real or imaginary work. I would have been solely responsible for caring for our home and overwhelmingly responsible for caring for our baby. Our only help would come from new, hired help, or from his friend with whom he had the weird, intimate relationship. The one whose son I think Chris would have rather had than his own.

When I was newly pregnant with Blue, a childhood friend who had moved back to our hometown suggested I leave Chris, forget about trying to get a job in DC, and come back "home." I was so convinced at the time that I couldn't have a baby alone, and that I didn't want to ask my dad, yet again, to bail me out from something I had gotten myself into.* Well, I don't think it would have been long after Blue was born that I found myself jobless, lonely, angry and sad and moving back to my hometown, telling Chris that if he wanted to see his son he could figure it out himself. And then I think, what would I be doing for work? Would I be a lawyer now? Or soon? Or would I be working at a bookstore for flexible hours and any kind of money I could get? Would I have settled down with Mr. E? I certainly would have met him, but under such different circumstances.

In the alternative, I think about what would have happened had we found out sooner in the pregnancy that Blue was sick. We wouldn't have tried to stay together. I would have been heartbroken. I would have been angry, thinking Chris got what he wanted somehow. It would have been easier on me, that is for sure. It would have been a less intimate loss at 10, 12 weeks. I'm not saying it would have been easy. At all. Just easier know. This circumstance is the most interesting to me, because in this case I might have moved back to Colorado. I might have made life-changing decisions, like having a baby with a good friend who was in his early 50s and still a little baby-crazy. I'm actually getting a little sad right now, because I think that might have worked. When I told him I was pregnant and that I wanted the baby but Chris didn't, I asked who would have a baby with me right away because now I knew I was really ready to have one? And he raised his hand. We met in Boulder right before I moved back East. We dated for a bit, and saw each other in New York a lot, but I could never get over the 18 year age difference. I see now that we don't really talk much anymore, and I miss him. I'm not going to call him the one that got away or anything, but if I imagine the two of us with a baby, it kind of works.

Finally, I think about what would have happened if I had had an abortion from the very beginning, as Chris suggested. Surprisingly (maybe), I still think that would have been the worst outcome. I wouldn't have ever known there was something wrong with my baby, something so wrong with him that I would rather he not live. And I would have never forgiven myself for not letting the unknown version of him live. I almost can't think about the outcome in this situation. I don't know that the depression that would have followed would have been something from which I could ever recover.

*It's not as bad as it sounds. My first job out of college was an internship paying $1000 a month and my dad offered to supplement my income so I could take the job. Then when I moved to the mountains and got a job selling radio ads I thought I would be making enough money in the next year to pay for the bikes I bought on my credit card. That may have happened more than once, but my point is that I wasn't, like, $50K in the hole from gambling debts or drugs.