Sunday, February 6, 2011
In the Night, Part 1
It happened last night, for the first time of this go-round. It was 3:30, and I had just gotten up with Fiona for the (gulp) third time of the night. As I lay down to try to return to sleep, I waited for the thump I liked to feel before drifting back. I have to be honest, when I wake up in the night these days (and with such frequency!) I'm often so exhausted that despite my paranoid brain, I forget to obsess about the baby's well being. But last night I remembered to obsess, and obsess I did. The baby was, quite clearly in retrospect, having a nice, good sleep, just as I should have been having. But I wasn't down with this plan. I wanted that baby up and moving, and I was hell-bent on making him/her do so. I spent maybe 15 minutes doing some quiet breathing, then started poking and prodding. After half an hour I ate a bowl of cereal and downed a glass of OJ.
After 45 minutes I started to panic. I wondered what I should do. Should I call somebody? Should I go somewhere, knowing I'm probably being paranoid? What would I do with the kids? Should I wake up Greg? We haven't even picked out names yet... it feels awful to imagine having to name a dead baby after the fact. And would we still go on our planned trip to Florida in two weeks if the baby was, indeed, gone? Well, I suppose we'd have to, for the kids, and wander around, dazed, watching the waves wash up on the shore, counting grains of sand through our fog of grief.
An hour had passed, and I was beginning to lose hope. I didn't know what to do.
Then the baby woke up, and had a nice long stretch, and wiggled around for a while. I don't know how long, because I fell asleep instantly as soon as I realized I still had an active, vivacious little being in there.
But what I'm left with, reviewing the panic, is this: when I envisioned myself going in to be checked, and imagining the worst outcome, all I could feel was shame. I felt as if I couldn't show my face at the place where I've had my other four babies, where the nurses know me so well that they move flowers to my room before I arrive and leave me post-it stickies welcoming me if they're off shift. I felt I couldn't walk in there, and know exactly where they'd be and what they'd be saying, talking about me in the work room, their heads shaking, not believing it'd happened to me again.
I felt I wouldn't be able to show my face at the support group I've given my heart and soul to; me, the facilitator, the symbol of a life rebuilt, shattered again. How could I look at them in the eye and tell them it would be okay?
And as for everyone else... the school, the friends, the neighbors. I could hear them, talking, the pity flowing. I couldn't bear the thought of being the object of their pity once again, the woman who could not bear a live child most of the time, the woman who must be "just amazing" for having survived this twice. I felt I could not face them again, ever, anyone.
Mostly, second only to the actual fear, I felt like I wanted to be swallowed up into the earth, because I couldn't stand the peripheral pieces that surround grief: the fact of me becoming, once again, the victim. The fact that somebody would have to give me bad news. The fact that I'd have to bear that news to others. The fact that this, like Charlotte's death, would never go away.
And so, now, I go off to read the baby name book. Because the only problem I anticipated last night that I could actually prevent is to pick a name. So I will.