35 weeks + 6 days pregnant
15 Days until Sprocket
Many loss mums tell me that they deal with the subsequent pregnancy by keeping busy, but I feel like the opposite is true for me. I crave the mundane. Days spent watching tv and reading. These kinds of activities are uneventful but that’s exactly what I yearn for; to add an element of ‘normal’, ‘boring’ even, to contrast with the whirlwind which has been my life for the past year.
It doesn’t help that my whole life got tipped upside down around the time we lost Nieve. Matt was working away and continued to do so until July, we were evicted from our flat and forced to move house, and then there was all the extra drama caused by my dad leading to me feeling abandoned by one side of my family. Subsequently I crave stability. I crave routine. I crave a substantial period of time of time in which things feel secure and safe and drama-free. Mundane is a luxury, boring is blissful.
With the section date approaching I’m starting to panic. Many nights over the last week I have laid awake contemplating the c section and the days that follow. I’m trying to avoid reading anything online about the procedure as I’ll undoubtably read things that will fill me with fear, but it still doesn’t stop my imagination running riot. Last night I woke up having a night terror, likely due to the culmination of the daily fear and anxiety of this pregnancy along with the upcoming operation.
I’m scared I’m not ready, but I guess that’s a concern that most other mothers have too. Sometimes I overlook that fact; that many of my fears and concerns are the same as other ‘normal’ mothers too.
In my online pregnancy group many of the other pregnant ladies have spoken of their fears about their baby’s movements and wellbeing and some have admitted that this has been exacerbated by knowing my history. It’s so hard to strike a balance between being proactive for your baby and living in fear. I don’t wish the fear on any of them but if the extra vigilance saves anyone the heartache that I’ve endured then surely that’s got to be worth it?
This week I was scheduled to attend an antenatal class at the hospital. When the confirmation email came through I noticed it was titled ‘1st time parents class’ and it immediately triggered feelings of unease. Since the mere title of the course upset me I began to worry how I would cope with the course content and spent the whole day feeling anxious about attending.
In the end I talked myself out of it. The majority of it would be about labour I told myself, and that wasn’t applicable to me. I might get dizzy and faint from all the activity I considered. I could learn the basics from books or on the internet and most of it would be instinctive anyway I reasoned. The truth was I was feeling fragile and couldn’t face it.
Couldn’t face the idea of ’round the room’ introductions. Couldn’t face the idea of excited parents to be basking in their unabiding joy. Couldn’t face their naive self assurance. Couldn’t face the idea of diluting their happiness with my tragic story. Of pitying looks. Of instilling fear in others. Of feeling different or being assumed to be ‘the same’. Couldn’t face the idea of being spoken to like a first timer. Of hearing about aspects of labour and childbirth which could stir up haunting memories.
The thing is, my choice not to go has now exacerbated my feelings of anxiety. I have consciously chosen to distance myself from other parents. I have decided I ‘can’t’ relate to them without even giving it a chance. Is this unhealthy or a natural reaction? Will I feel more inclined to reach out to other parents once Sprocket is here or will I choose to isolate myself and remain in my ‘safe’ little bubble? I know what I should do. It’s just doing it that’s hard.
A part of the issue wasn’t just facing the other parents, it was facing talk about the next chapter. My midwife talked to me about what it’s like meeting your baby for the first time and there’s a part of me that’s in total denial that it will ever happen for me. I can now think, talk about and imagine him being here but it’s filled with doubt, trepidation and distrust.
As we approach the finish line my anxiety is growing. This pregnancy is about to reach a conclusion and that’s quite terrifying. My coping strategy all along has been to focus on getting through this pregnancy day by day. The birth never really crossed my mind because it felt too presumptuous and scary to think that far ahead. But now it’s a little over two weeks away and it feels like reaching the climax of an extremely intense experience.
Although this pregnancy has been incredibly hard, pregnancy is the familiar. I’m almost in a routine of survival and pretty much know what to expect from one day to the next. There is fear, but it’s anticipated, it’s almost normal to me now. The next part feels full of question marks.
Before I became pregnant I anticipated the fear and the worry. I wrote an action plan to help me to stay calm and in as much control as possible. I read about other women’s experiences of pregnancy after loss. I armed myself with strategies to help me cope and reached out to others who were in the same position as me.
But the fear over Sprocket not making it home has prevented me from undergoing the same preparation for the next stage. And whilst the avoidance of thinking that far ahead was initially a successful coping mechanism, the fears and doubts about the next stage are now starting to leak in and I feel ill prepared for them.
My response has been to continue the only way I know how, and that’s to keep taking it one day at a time. My brain can only deal with so much. I’m staying rooted in today and leaving tomorrow for tomorrow.