As I was saying, it is just not possible to get through Advent and Christmas without being bombarded by pregnancy and childbirth. The good news? I nursed the baby during the church service tonight; what could be more perfect than that? The music director smiled; we were sitting in overflow space in the choir loft.
And I cried through a lot of the service, because I couldn’t help but think about how incredibly painful this pregnancy was for me.
My OBGYN said it best. “Of course you’re scared. Your body thinks that pregnancy is a bad thing.” Because it was. She told me, at every visit, that I was doing great and that what I was feeling was perfectly normal for someone who has had a traumatic pregnancy loss, or traumatic childbirth. That helped, but it never took away the constant fear.
I had PTSD. Every time, and I mean every time, I felt the least bit of discharge, I startled. My body thought I was bleeding again. And guess what? I put out a lot of fluid when I’m pregnant. And there just wasn’t anything I could do about it. My head knew that I was probably fine, probably not bleeding. But my body? It wasn’t listening to my head. It was going to keep me alive, damn it, and if that meant keeping me in a state of hyper-awareness for weeks on end, then that’s what it would do. And it did. And wow, did it just suck.
I had wanted so much to be pregnant. For years, before I was even close to considering actually getting pregnant, I wanted to be pregnant. I don’t know why; it wasn’t about the baby or the children that would come after; I just wanted to be pregnant. And from what I can tell, looking past the PTSD, I think my body is good at it. I think I would have enjoyed it, if I hadn’t been so sure (in one part of myself) that the baby, or I, or both of us would die.
My birth plan? Nobody dies. That’s really all I wanted.
I cried a lot. I cried at prenatal appointments. I cried so hard I had to leave the room a couple of times during the “prepared childbirth” (ha!) class. On the intake form for the class, there was a spot to write what your fears, so the instructors could address them. The nurse running the class said that everyone had put “pain” as what they were most afraid of. Me? I left it blank. Dying, that’s what I was afraid of, but I didn’t write that on the sheet. Pain? I can deal with pain. Dying, on the other hand, not so much.
I cried trying to read the pregnancy books. I cried when we visited a farm and saw a goat with her hours-old twins, banging their heads against her so the milk would let down. (She ended up having triplets. We came back after lunch, and there was the third, lying in the placenta. I guess it was warm. Ick.)
I basically spent the entire pregnancy in fear and crying, and I couldn’t talk or think myself out of it. Because I knew. Even though the chances of anything bad happening were small, they were real. And people who had seen this before kept telling me that what I was feeling was perfectly normal under the circumstances.
I had just started to enjoy being pregnant when my water broke. Almost literally. We were about to go outside and take pictures of me being pregnant, visibly being pregnant, but we went to the hospital instead. I still resent it. I am still angry that I didn’t get to enjoy being pregnant, that I held my breath for the whole time, that it was just so hard. It wasn’t until I met my doula that I felt like myself for the first time in the whole pregnancy, but that’s a story for another post.
Maybe next year it will be different. Maybe next year I won’t be thinking about Mary facing the possibility that she might die in childbirth. Maybe next year I can just watch my son enjoy the lights and colors and singing and happy people on Christmas Eve.