Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Confession

Here it is, my confession.
It has been over four and a half years since my blissful, perfect pregnancy ended in the accidental death of my beautiful daughter. Since then, I have had two, healthy, anxiety-wraught pregnancies, ending in the healthy birth of my son and daughter.
Here is the confession. Confessions.
First, I still can't stand seeing pregnant people who I don't know. If I know them, somehow it's okay. I have gotten to the point that I can be happy with this. But strangers? I still cannot surpress the urge to run up to them and tug on their sleeve and say, "But don't you KNOW what could happen? How can you look so smug?" And each time I think this I berate myself because for all I know they have had 24 miscarriages but I still think it. I try not to, but I do. I don't like this one bit.
Confession number 2. When my friends have their first baby, I feel jealous. I look at the picture and I cry, but not for them, for myself. I can't help it. I just want to have that. I remember the feeling of being completely thunderstruck by this life that I had created and I think, imagine if she had been living. Imagine then what that would have felt like. I will never know. It feels so unfair and I can see the joy in their eyes and I want it for myself. I want to go back in time and get it.
But something happened today, something happened for the very, very first time. My friend had a baby, and it was her first, and I cried, and cried, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks at my little desk (which is built into an old stairwell off of our kitchen), and felt even a little shy when Greg came to look at the photo for the first time because of how much I was crying, and how I couldn't even really speak to say to him how happy I was for her. So happy. Happy for her, and not even a teeny-tiny bit sad for myself.
Why is this?
Maybe it is because Jenny has been trying to have a baby for about 10 years, for 3 years with her first husband who left her in the midst of their infertility crisis and then for 3 years with her dear Lawrence who is baby Porter's daddy. So there's this, the fibroids and the IVF and the miscarriage and then finally, at the very end, a beautiful little baby boy, so gorgeous, so here, and alive, and wrapped up burrito-style, and in the picture of her with him in her arms you can see it in her eyes. She can't believe it. There is no part of her that takes even the slightest hint of an eyelash of her son for granted. She knows he is a miracle.
Is it that? Is that why my tears were purely tears of joy?
Or is it this, the letter she sent me a few months back, starting off with talking about her planned c-section since she had had so many fibroids surgeries: it will feel to go to bed the night before and know that's the last night...we hope. I always have to add that - we hope. We hope it will all go well for the next six weeks so that we get to that point. When people tell us, "this is the last Christmas you'll have without a baby!" I can't help but add, "well, we hope so!" The dream still feels fragile to me - maybe it always will.
And I have been wanting to tell you, Carol, that I have conversations with Charlotte on a regular basis. I hope that feels okay to you - it is not in a freaky scary sort of way, more that I feel even more connected to what you were experiencing as you were pregnant with her. I mean, Charlotte has never been far from my thoughts ever, but now when this baby moves I think about how she used to swim around, and I sort of talk with her about it, and think about her life. It's been a really nice thing for me, even though it is also so very sad to me that she never got to experience "out here". Obviously she is part of your family just as Liam and Aoife are, but in many ways, as much as anyone else can be, she is part of my family too - she is really built into the fabric of my heart. It has been nice for me to know a little more about what is was like for you to be pregnant with your first - I don't think anyone has any idea what its like until they do it themselves, which is one of the myriad reasons I wanted it so badly. Anyway, Charlotte keeps me company, and while her birth might be something people would tell me not to dwell on, it's really not what I focus on anyway - I think about how healthy she was and how beautiful and perfect she was. And her birth reminds me of what can happen in life - unexpected and accidental and heartbreaking, but also what can come of it and what each of us does with those experiences.
Oh my oh my. Could I ever have PAID a friend to write something more beautiful and poignant? And so I am concluding, here and now, that I don't have to think to myself this, which I usually think when somebody has a baby:
Now she can really imagine what it was like for me to lose my baby.

Because she doesn't need to. Somehow she already knew, and now she has been blessed with her own baby. I am so happy.
It feels nice in my heart to feel this pure joy. Baby Porter lives in Washington, so I don't know when I'll ever get to meet the little guy, but I am so happy for this couple who has worked so hard for this baby and finally has him.
And, back to my confessional, it is a rare, nice treat to not feel self-centered and wallowing in my own pity when somebody else is in the midst of their own pure joy.

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