A Bellyful of Light

March 3, 2007


This is me, some 30+ hours before WonderBaby arrived in the open air of this fine world. I was in the beginning stages of labour; I thought (thought) that my water had broken (how one gets this wrong I still do not know) and had hied me hence to the hospital as instructed by my doctor (group B strep positive). It was complicated and frustrating and soon to get very, very painful, but I was – as I think the above picture demonstrates – pretty happy about the whole situation: free at last! free at last! Praise God Almighty I will be free at last!

Hence the big smile, the palpable air of ease. Note that I am cleaning my glasses. The most pressing bit of business in that moment was to clean my glasses. The better to appreciate the pending view between my legs, I suppose.

This was not my most challenging or uncomfortable pregnancy moment. This was my most challenging and uncomfortable pregnancy moment:

I am not quite four months pregnant in the above photo. The little bump that was the growing WonderBaby is barely visible. My ass is still tiny and I am still wearing size 4 H&M khakis. It was early days; early, early days.

But those were the hardest days.

I bled, off and on, from about 6 weeks of pregnancy through six months. Doctors could not explain it; they shrugged their shoulders, as doctors do, and patted me on the shoulder and warned me, with placid smiles, that I might very well lose this pregnancy. That lots of women ‘lose’ their pregnancies. That miscarriage is common. That there was nothing they could do, nothing I could do. Wait and see, they said. Wait and see.

When I passed the twelve-week mark, I was exultant: I’d passed the point of greatest danger. I had made it – we had made it! – to the second trimester. It would be, I thought, smooth sailing from that point on. After the first trimester, odds of miscarriage drop precipitously; all of the books said so. I seized on this fact like a life preserver: we need now only hang on, my bean. JUST HANG ON. But the bleeding didn’t stop. At fifteen weeks and some days, after a week or two of respite, it renewed its assault on my undergarments and on my soul: I was, I was certain, having a miscarriage.

I was delivering a lecture when the worst of it hit; I excused myself, attended to things in a washroom just outside the lecture hall, and then called the hospital. The resident-on-call said, sounds like a miscarriage. There’ll be nothing that we can do. You’d best go home and wait it out. I went back into the lecture hall, apologized for the disruption, and finished my lecture. Then I went home and asked my husband to take the picture that you see above. If this was the end, I thought, I at least wanted some record that I – that we – had made it this far.

It would, I thought, be the only non-medical record of a brief life. I spent that night curled up, tightly, under blankets, gripped by my sadness, bound by fear.

Sometime, in the night, the bleeding stopped. When we went to the hospital the next day, for an ultrasound, our bean – WonderBaby – was fine. We heard her heartbeat. We heard mine. Both were were strong.

The bleeding was never again quite so bad as it was that night. Somewhere around the six-month mark, it stopped completely. The doctors were never able to explain what had caused it. One of the many mysteries of pregnancy, they supposed. I spent the rest of the pregnancy in fear of those mysteries. I spent the rest of the pregnancy struggling with heartburn and backpain and swollen feet and fingers. I lost my wedding ring to the swollen fingers, and spend days crying over missing jewellry and outgrown shoes. Once, I got stuck in a closet, my fat ass and giant belly blocked by a box of baby crap that I’d pulled in behind me (pulling, not lifting, to be safe, of course). I sat there, crying, terrified and in pain, for a good ten minutes before the husband found me and pulled me out. There were a lot of moments of pain and fear and discomfort during that pregnancy. But not a one of those moments ever came close to those terrible days, and that terrible night, when I thought that the pregnancy – and the growing life that was the pregnancy’s work – would be snatched from me by some inexplicable force of biology.

No matter how hard that pregnancy got, I never – not for one moment – wanted it to be taken from me. I would have suffered through a full ten months of blood and fear – ten months squared – and still clung to every one of those months with every ounce of spirit in me. I would bare my soul to ten times that darkness – ten times infinity – to reap the reward of the miracle that carries that darkness.

I would do it all over again, in a second. In a second.

I really would. I just might.

(In honour of the lovely Lindsay of Suburban Turmoil, who is counting down *her* moments. And in honour of all you other brave souls, who are living your moments - good and bad – with power and grace. Who are inspiration to me.)

(Did I miss anybody?)

********

Edited to add: please stop in at the Basement, whenever you get a chance. There’s someone there who’d like an ear, and perhaps a warm shoulder, or many such shoulders, to lean on…

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    { 64 comments }

    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    i’ve bled with all my pregnancies.its frightening because you don’t know why.but all my babies have been fine.even the 2 high risk pregnancies,last baby was 7.5 weeks early.you look radiant in that pic HBM.almost makes me want another one…LAVENDULA

    Kate March 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Great tribute and as always great writing. I honestly thought by the end of the post you were going to tell us that you were pregnant. So I of course, scrolled down to the bottom first to spoil the surprise for myself.

    Mamacita Tina March 5, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Very scary moments for you. Thank goodness it turned out all right. It’s unreal that the percentage of miscarriages is so high and we have little knowledge as to why. I have a dear friend who has had two miscarriages. She so wants to be pregnant, have children. Very sad.

    AdventureDad March 6, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Nice story. Your stomach in that first picture looks small compared to wife during our first delivery. Actually, it was the same HUGE size seconded time around.

    We also had bleeding for two months with our daughter. Many scary moments before the bleeding finally stopped. After a while we just accepted that it was not up to us and there was nothing we could do. Made us a feel a lot better and more relaxed.

    If it’s meant to be, everything will be fine.

    AD

    Kate March 6, 2007 at 10:26 am

    I’m sorry that we have that in common, pregnancy-wise. What a nightmare. I actually just blogged about it recently…
    Here: http://kate2kids.blogspot.com/2007/02/odd-time-of-year.html
    And then here:
    http://kate2kids.blogspot.com/2007/02/february-for-real-this-time.html
    And finally, here:
    http://kate2kids.blogspot.com/2007/02/worth-risk.html

    Not that I think you’re overburdened with spare time, just that I just wandered through similar musings myself and can’t come up with pithier comments for you now.

    Jennifer March 6, 2007 at 10:27 am

    I bled on and off for my first trimester, too. The best (sounding) explanation I ever heard was that my cervix must be sensitive to hormone changes. Just like you, my baby was born healthy and beautiful. We have a lot to be thankful for.

    jmvanwinkle March 6, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Beautiful post. It also brings back my moments of scariness and wonderfullness (is this even a word!?!) of pregnancy. My G-Man will be 2 in 2 days…and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Isn’t it amazing how strong moms can be? I’m proud to be one. :)

    Michele March 6, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Wow, we must be on the same wavelength.
    I was just reading my archives from exactly a year ago and crying again at this post about the bleeding I endured when I was pregnant with my twins. Reading it, I can still feel the pain and raw fear like it was yesterday. So very scary and never an explanation for why. But they will be two on Sunday so the beauty and joy they bring me is a balm to that bad time.
    I’m ready too, but I dont know if lightening will strike twice in my poor, cluttered womb.

    Her Bad Mother March 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Michele! Where’d that link go?!?!

    Horn-tooting is encouraged ’round here, and I’d like to read that post. So get back here and re-post it!

    (please)

    Michele March 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Here is the link, but I cant format it properly for some reason so please copy/paste:

    http://mommycakes.blogspot.com/2006/03/babies-story.html

    jchevais March 8, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    What a gorgeous story. Thank you for sharing it.

    scarbie doll March 8, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks for that. I needed to remember that there’s an awesome reward at the end of all this.

    Size 4 H&M khakis? I might just hate you a teeny bit for that.

    Jerl March 10, 2007 at 9:59 am

    You are an exceptional woman! I can’t say with my Funny Babes, I had an easy pregnancy. I found out that I was preggo when I was already 15 weeks. Hubby and I tried for a long time and the doctor confirmed it was going to be hard for us to have one unless we go for AI. So I got a fluffy Huggable little pup (now 4 yrs old), Pretty Girl and never expecting to be preggo again. The reason I got into 15 weeks w/o knowing is that I just gave up getting negative results. I remember 3 days before I found out, I was running doing errands and carrying my furkid in my backpack (bought one for her). I felt so tired and heavy and I also felt like there is something going to come out from me. I got home and took a looooong nap. How did I find out? My sister-in-law gave me a stick to try for the last time. It came out positive and from then on, I was so careful and always paranoid that I may lose my baby. Lots of U/S bec. I also had too much water. Then they thought I was diabetic and I had to endure a lot of needle testing bec. of that :-) then on my last U/S (I was overdue), they told me I’m running out of water so I went into the hospital right after that. I was a c/s.

    The annoying part of my baby story was a mother who stayed with me in the same hospital room (semi-private since all the private rooms are taken) who kept on complaining that my baby “cries a lot.” If it wasn’t for my freshly stapled tummy, I would have walked to her bed and strangled her. The woman was horrible. Calling the nurses (who was also annoyed and feel sorry for me) complaining about me and the baby. She wanted to be transferred to a private room…

    Would I want a second one? Yes. But not right now. If I don’t, it is still ok… I already have a wonderful funny boy and a pretty girl (furkid) that I love with all my heart and soul. That’s enough for me.

    Suburban Turmoil March 5, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Oh my goodness. I just read this- again- and didn’t remember until I read it at the end that you wrote it for my virtual baby shower! WOW. You are such an amazing writer. You get me every time, even the second time around. :)

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