This post probably isn’t fit for anyone to read. It’s something I’m trying to work through, emotionally and intellectually. It feels ugly to me and I’m more than a little ashamed of it. If I don’t get it written down, though, I’ll just keep dwelling on it. Sure, I don’t have to publish it, but my goal here has always been blatant ugly honesty. Just don’t read it, ok?
I feel cheated out of too many things. I was cheated by infertility, denied the ability to conceive a child without major medical intervention. I’ve written about this before and I’d more or less managed to come to terms with my feelings about it. Until now. Now, it’s one more tic mark in the column of things I feel cheated out of.
I was cheated out of the pregnancy experience. Yes, there were a few incredible moments that I’ll never forget, but they’ll always be shadowed by the vomiting and the illness. The second trimester, when things were supposed to improve will forever be lost in the fear of the gallbladder surgery and then the membrane rupture. I had one good week in all of that…one week of feeling good. One week of no vomiting, of a healthy, pregnant appetite. One week.
My very few memories of the night I went into labor are of frightening, painful experiences that make up maybe 10 minutes out of over 90. S has helped me fill in the blanks for that night, but largely I’ve blocked it all out. I was cheated out of any sort of birth experience. Yes, I know we did what we needed to for the safety of both babies and myself, but giving birth either vaginally or by c-section is an experience I’d spent a great deal of time thinking about. Knowing that eventually, one way or another I’d get to hear a first cry and the announcement, “Congratulations, it’s a …..” got me through more rough times than I can count. I’d particularly been holding on to that dream while on bed rest. I was more than willing to give up my freedom for as long as it took, as long as that moment waited for me at the end. I got cheated of that moment.
I have been cheated out of holding my newborn babies and counting fingers and toes, changing first diapers, giving their first feeds, baths. Their first “meal” of breastmilk came from the milk bank. I was cheated out of hours and hours of my son’s short life as I dealt with vitals checks, the administration of antibiotics, paper work, and waiting. I only got to see him maybe three times, possibly four before my last visit with him. I’ll never get that time back. Cheated.
I went to bed, so to speak, on January 2 pregnant with twins. My belly was huge and full of babies. I heard their heartbeats, nice and strong. I could feel Zoe and Lennox. I knew exactly where they both were. I woke up on January 3 empty. My babies were gone and I couldn’t remember anything about it. I couldn’t go see them. It wasn’t a transition from pregnant to not, I just suddenly wasn’t pregnant any more. I never knew, would never have guessed that labor provides a mental transition as well as a physical one. Cheated. I’d barely gotten my brain around the idea of being pregnant and now I’m having to wrench my brain around the idea of NOT being pregnant. Cheated.
I sit at my pump and look at a photo of my daughter. I have a cloth diaper that she slept on for a night to smell in the hopes of being able to pump enough milk for her. I’ve never heard her cry. When she is agitated, nurses calm her down. Most of the time, I’m not even there. Cheated. I nurse based on the clock, not based on my daughter’s need. Two am feedings are nothing more than a chore when your infant is 10 miles away. Cheated.
I know how lucky we are. This could have ended much, much worse. My babies could be growing up without me, or I could be facing a future without either of my children. I know that and I am thankful for Zoe’s progress every minute. But I was cheated. I did everything asked of me. I played by the rules. Why is it that I still lost so much?
I don’t know if we’ll try again. We still have frozen embryos and S still holds out hope that pregnancy, however brief, will have “reset” me. I doubt it, but I’m way more cynical than he. I’m not sure I can set aside this new fear to try. I’m no longer afraid I won’t get pregnant. I’m afraid of what can happen if I do.