This post is negative, whiney and rather pessimistic. You may want to skip over this one.
The holiday greetings conundrum is an exaggerated version of the usual dead-baby-conversation icebreaker all babylost parents face. When a friend, neighbor or colleague asks how my holiday was I have a choice. I can throw out a customary answer, “Busy; you know how it goes.” Or I can answer honestly, “It’s really difficult. Our son would be at a very fun age this holiday season.” The former discredits my daily experience but allows the social interaction to occur and end without the opposite party feeling uncomfortable. The latter often leaves the other person’s brow furrowed with disconcertment. Usually the other person says something they believe to be sympathetic and sensitive. Usually what they say is actually insensitive and makes me feel worse.
I would out-and-out regret being honest at all in the first place, but part of me feels as though I am crusading for all bereaved people. That by using the opening in conversation to push my ongoing grief into the spotlight momentarily, I force the unscathed to remember my tragedy and to recognize, even briefly, the agony I continue to live with. Sure I walk away feeling worse because of their ineptitude and insensitivity, but maybe they’ll be more aware with the next bereaved person they confront.
If one more person wishes me a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays I am going to punch them in the face. The random strangers bother me less. It’s the people in my life who ought to know better. Passing in the hall at the office this week a coworker says to me, “Did you have a good Christmas?” “No,” I replied flatly and kept walking. She stopped dead in her tracks, jaw slightly agape. “What?!” “No. It’s really shitty without my 14-month-old son.”
I had similar exchanges with three staff members at the perinatologist’s office the day before. And in all of these brief conversations the other party, lacking any substantive reply always, always responds with a reference to Baby Dragon – “Well you’ll have this little one next Christmas!” This is infuriating. Surely if they took a minute to think first, they wouldn’t say something so stupid. But social pressure insists we wrap up our chat neatly and on a positive note.
We are at 37-weeks. If this kid doesn’t come on it’s own we’ll induce at 39-weeks which means one way or the other we’ll be having a baby in the next couple weeks. And yet the hospital bag is not packed. The car seat is not installed. The baby laundry is not done. Is it denial? Probably a little bit. Part of me is still hesitant to truly believe we are having a baby and that this baby will actually be coming home with us.
I sometimes feel like Charlie Brown. Like I’ll come charging up to kick the football and at the very last second, it is whisked away and I end up flat on my back, hurting with the breath knocked out of me.
I am petrified. We’re at the finish line of this pregnancy and this baby could die any minute. Just -- like -- last -- time. My naivety has been obliterated. I know now, that I cannot protect this baby any more than I could protect A.
Maybe the fear is feeding the denial. If I don’t think about the approaching due date then it isn’t real, right? All of a sudden I am deflated of any self-confidence. I am scared of the pain of labor (even though I dreamed and prayed for it back in the spring when we were trying to get pregnant). I am terrified but I can’t put my finger on exactly what I’m terrified of. I do know that this terror is preventing me from spiritually and emotionally welcoming this child to the outside world. Said emotional and spiritual clamping up is probably affecting my body and preventing labor from starting on its own. I am too scared to welcome this birth with unabated enthusiasm.
The fear is paralyzing. I sit and stare at the to-do-before-Dragon-arrives-list but don’t actually do the things listed. In fact I’ve found it harder and harder to get out of bed each morning – a classic avoidance technique I honed in college. You know the sleep for hours and hours tactic?
And yet as in the darkest days of my grief, time ticks on which means birth is inevitable regardless of my acknowledgement or readiness.
Stay safe baby Dragon; stay safe.