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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    Gabriella March 3, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    what a beautiful story. Just beautiful.

    chelle March 3, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    You and Wonderbaby have the same beautiful smile!

    Beautiful story! I am really enjoying seeing everyone’s pregnancy pictures and reading their stories…it is making me feel less gigantic at the moment and a little more sane!

    Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" March 3, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I love that story. I love that you have that wonder’ful’ baby and I love that you are brave enough to share it all with us/me.

    Thank you.

    I wish I could hug you right now.

    Redneck Mommy March 3, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    You may have convinced me to share my swollen belly pics.

    Maybe. I wasn’t near as cute or as little as you…

    You looked wonderful. Not like the bloated, bleeting cow I resembled…

    Suburban Turmoil March 3, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you. This is awesome. You guys are making me feel soooo much better and less alone right now! :)

    slouching mom March 3, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Aww, HBM, you almost make me want to have another. Shh. Don’t tell my husband. He’ll freak, freak I tell you.

    Catherine March 3, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    This is beautiful. I, also, was “supposed” to miscarry, and breathed my way through many months in which we kept hearing the heart beat. My sweet little pea is now 7 months old and very alive. The day I found out I was pregnant, and the day I found out I might not be for long, I felt so so so grateful to have been pregnant for at least a day…at least a week…I truly treasured every moment and I still am doing so.

    I am beginning to wonder now – will I be able to do this all again? Will I be blessed a second time?

    Thank you for reminding me of this. It was too close to my heart to blog at the time, but maybe I’ll go back sometime and retell.

    On a lighter note – I also love H&M. Hmmm. I wonder if they’ll ever fit me again…

    Thank you.

    metro mama March 3, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    It’s a good thing the reward is so great, isn’t it!

    Beck March 3, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    With my second pregnancy, I bled suddenly and horrifically right in the middle of the fifth month and was told that my baby had died at the hospital. I spent 24 hours thinking that my baby boy was dead, and that was, as you said, the most awful thing in my whole life.
    He was fine. The grief I’d felt for him got me through his nightmarish 20+ hour labour. I can’t imagine living with that terror and grief for months, like you did.

    Christina March 3, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    I didn’t realize you went through so much with your pregnancy. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to constantly wonder if you’re going to lose the baby.

    Thankfully, I’ve had boringly normal (so far, knock on wood!) pregnancies. As long as this one would be so kind as to stay head down, of course. Cordy’s only complication was being breech, requiring a c-section.

    If you do decide to have another, I hope it is a pregnancy free of any fears, minus the standard ones we all have.

    Sharee March 3, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I spent two weeks of agony thinking my second son had died, only to dicover we had lost a twin. Sad to say, at 25 weeks, my li’l man didn’t survive … He was our third late term loss. I am happily preggers with our fourth baby … 27 weeks, 1 day … this little one WILL SURVIVE!!

    Marie March 3, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Oh goodness… I cannot imagine. Thank goodness everything worked out! You look so relaxed!!

    albamaria30 March 3, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. Pregnancy is wonderful and stressful and a mystery and a miracle. I’m glad you and WonderBaby survived — more than glad. And I’m glad you’re telling it. I am working up to telling my own stories now.

    Thanks again. I’m glad I found you (all of you mommy bloggers!).


    Lizzy March 3, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Beautiful post.

    And how lucky you are to have WonderBaby, and for WonderBaby to have you.

    In my 5th month of pregnancy, I had a gall bladder attack so severe I was nearly rushed into emergency surgery. I was told there was a 90% chance I would lose my son. I was alone in the hospital, my husband hadn’t arrived yet. And I had to make a decision. I chose the pain over the surgery. And I went a year without eating more than 10g of fat a day. But look at what I got! My boy! He’ll be a year old in just 3 weeks.

    It’s an amazing journey, the whole pregnancy and birth. So many opportunities for something to go not right. We are blessed to have our children, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say my thank yous.

    And thank you for sharing.

    The Flip Flop Mamma! March 3, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    What a great post. Your whole pregnancy must have been so scary. I’m 14 weeks right now, and so far this has been smooth sailing, with the exception of my morning sickness that lasted a whole week! LOL. I can’t imagine going through bleeding the majority of the time, I would have been a mess. You must be very strong.

    Sara March 3, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Oh my. I’m already baby hungry and despite the troubles and plain ol’ crap, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    Danielle Meehan March 3, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    My pregnancy progressed much the same way yours did. I had heavy bleeding at six weeks and it continued until about 20 weeks or so. They kept telling me to prepare myself, that there was a good chance this pregnancy wouldn’t last. Well we made it through the bleeding, 16 ultrasounds, one amnio and finally an early birth at 29 weeks. I wish greatly that I could have gone full term but I can’t imagine life without our little man.
    Wonderbaby is very lucky. Good luck making it through this pregnancy unscathed.

    Andi March 3, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    We lost our “Jellybean” at 13 weeks 1 day. We were on our way to the emergency room less than 24 hours after hearing the heartbeat for the first time. I had spotting through most of my pregnancy with Sprout and was monitored through the entire pregnancy. I marked my pregnancy in milestones based on Sprout’s chances of survival outside my body.

    Anonymous March 3, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Oh Catherine I am so sorry you had to endure that stress. As you say with a happy ending we would be willing to do it all over again in a second.
    I just have to say – size 4- you really want me to hate you a little? Now is not a good time for me. I wasn’t aware of this fatty posting business. I’ll have to think about it. I am very fat and very white. Its a frightening combination.
    Lisa b

    Her Bad Mother March 3, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Lisa, DUDE. I gained 90+ pounds during the pregnancy. I got so far past size four that I can’t even look at those pants now. Onion rings and ice cream cones were my way of coping with pregnancy. Onion rings and ice cream cones padded my ass BUT GOOD.

    scribbit March 3, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for this post, I think I understood how you feel. Having had seven pregnancies myself I can understand the stress and trauma that kind of thing brings on. My husband and I have mentioned that having another child isn’t the hard part, it’s going through another preganacy and having more problems, complications, tragedy, pain, etc. before producing (or not) another child is more than I can handle at this point in my life. I’m done.

    kittenpie March 3, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    I had a bleed at one point too – so scary, and I was totally dismissed at the hospital, for by the time I got to see someone, it was pretty much over. So while it was just one really short incident, between that and falling, FLYING down our icy front steps (also turned out fine), I totally understand the stress and fear, and can’t imagine living with it for months. So good – soo, soo good – that everything was fine.

    And? BTW? Can’t believe you look so happy during labour, you weirdo!

    Fairly Odd Mother March 3, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Wow. I can’t even imagine how scared you must’ve been that night, just waiting for it all to end.

    I also can’t believe I laughed in the midst of such a riveting post but that image of you stuck in a closet was a bit funny. Sorry!

    gingajoy March 3, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    That was just wonderful. When you explained the reasons behind that 4 month photo–after we’ve seen it. Just takes my breath away.

    I have two children. I’m finished. But in some ways I am in denial that I’ll never be that body again.

    Nancy March 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    I knew how the story of your pregnancy ended, but it didn’t stop me from gasping when you talked about the lecture and that night. I am so glad everything turned out OK and that you have your beautiful, wonderful, Wonder Baby.

    Suburban Gorgon March 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    You never cease to hit me right between the eyes with these posts about motherhood, woman.

    Jennifer March 3, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    This was such a terrific post! I’m 29 weeks pregnant with #2 and feeling sorry for myself (uncomfortable, tired, irritable)…this is a great reminder to enjoy and appreciate the miracle that it is.

    Lynanne March 4, 2007 at 12:54 am

    Wonderful post! This is the stuff you don’t find in the pregnancy books (but should!)

    The Mad Momma March 4, 2007 at 2:16 am

    oh that was beautiful… with 10 days left to my due date it’s so easy to forget all the discomfort i have been through… in fact when i look back now, i had a tough time while pregnant with the Brat and really envied those who sailed through.. and its nice to hear from others who had a bad time… makes you realise you are not alone….

    Kyla March 4, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Ahhh, the very first sign of the wonder that would be Wonderbaby. Way to show those doctors, WB. This was beautiful, HBM!

    Lady M March 4, 2007 at 3:31 am

    That was beautiful. Even knowing that WonderBaby arrived just fine, I was worried all through the post that you two weren’t going to make it. Lovely, lovely babies. If I get convinced that I should have a second, I think I will continue to hide behind furniture for pictures though.

    c4cara March 4, 2007 at 4:38 am

    I could never post my last pregnancy photos! I was enormous and SO grumpy.
    You look lovely, and wonderbaby is lovely.
    How can any part of motherhood ‘come naturally’? It’s all so mysterious and heartbreaking and ….
    Fuzzies for you and thanks for the writing…

    TB March 4, 2007 at 4:39 am

    It really is such a journey, isn’t it? As soon as you learn you have this tiny life inside the world opens up, not only to the endless good possibilities, but to the worries.
    At 33 weeks, I have a feeling this is only a tiny fraction of what is to come.
    It’s amazing and exciting and life changing and a little terrifying all at the same time.

    flutter March 4, 2007 at 4:57 am

    I think I have to go cry like an idiot, now.

    kgirl March 4, 2007 at 10:09 am

    I certainly know that fear. happily, i also know that joy.

    another beauty (and not just the pics).


    Joker The Lurcher March 4, 2007 at 10:26 am

    i had the same experience. i had a miscarriage before my son was conceived and then my pregnancy with him was just like this – bleeding until very late. at about 20 weeks i had to leave work and go home as i was haemorraging bright red blood everywhere. but he hung on to 33 weeks before arriving. it turned out i have fibroids which must have been where the placenta was fixed to (god – how do we give out so much personal detail on the net?). so glad it turned out ok for you.

    mamatulip March 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I bled early on in my pregnancy with Julia and was convinced I was miscarrying — again. I can’t even explain or express the relief that flooded me when I saw her, the size of a bean, jumping around on the ultra sound screen.

    Such a lovely post, C.

    Much More Than A Mom March 4, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    That must have been very scary. As always, you’ve put your experience into words that bring tears to my eyes. It’s probably a good thing I’m not a Torontonian – if we were drinking wine (at a playdate, of course) I’d be a mess of tears constantly if you speak the way you write.

    You’re so lucky to have each other. What a miracle.

    Kellie March 4, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your powerful story. I too spent the majority of my pregnancy in fear that I would lose the amazing child I was carrying. My amazing girl just turned 7 months old. Wow. You captured in words something that can feel impossible to articulate, and you did it beautifully. Congrats to you and your lovely new babe. come visit us sometime at http://www.amazingnoa.blogspot.com

    Damselfly March 4, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Aw, thanks for sharing this. How awful it must have been to try to finish your lecture. I think even in “normal,” “problem-free” pregnancies, a mama wonders how her baby’s doing in there. How much more nerve-wracking it must be when there are complications or other troubles.

    Mom101 March 4, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    (can finally comment…hoorah)

    Thanks for the reminder that complaining about cankles is a luxury. After the 4 month toxo scare this time around, I should be celebrating the remaining 5 months of flab. Of course I won’t. But at least I’m thinking about it now…

    NotSoSage March 4, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Beautiful post. What a heartbreaking reason, but what a joyful result, for that photo.

    We spent our ride home from the in-laws negotiating when we would start trying for #2…I am feeling babylust Big Time.

    mo-wo March 5, 2007 at 12:58 am

    So THAT’s why you call her WonderBaby. Her first wonderous affect. First of many.

    Lena March 5, 2007 at 1:56 am

    Oh! What would the world BE without Wonderbaby??


    FENICLE March 5, 2007 at 1:57 am

    What a beautifully written account of your pregnancy and birth experience. I think we often take for granted when things in our lives go on without a hitch…and things like this make us reflect.

    You are so brave posting your belly pics!! Although if my skinny ass & waist were that size I would have too!!

    merseydotes March 5, 2007 at 10:24 am

    After Petunia was born, I had a ROUGH time with healing from my second degree tear and with a rampant yeast infection in my breasts. It was so awful, and I really debated whether I could even go through that experience again.

    I finally warmed up to the idea of a second baby and got pregnant last summer. I found out at twelve weeks that I lost the pregnancy.

    Now we are trying to get pregnant again, and I am swearing to God, the Fates and anyone else who is listening and has some pull over the cosmos that I would happily endure all the pain and scarring and tears all over again just to have another baby. It is amazing what we are willing to go through for the miracles that become our children.

    ewe are here March 5, 2007 at 11:32 am

    What a lovely, lovely post. It made me tear up at the end upon seeing that ‘new’ little face of WonderBaby at the end…knowing what a struggle it was for you for so much of your pregnancy. I can’t even imagine what you must have been feeling … let alone go back to finish your lecture! Wow. Just wow.

    I know I’ve been a tad grumpy lately encouraging BabyBoo to get the heck out –we’re being gently induced this week if he doesn’t get out on his own!! — but, at the same time, I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have such fairly easy pregnancies. And I really have enjoyed talking to the belly again, especially as this is very likely going to be our last pregnancy.

    Hopefully, we’ll have good news by the end of the week. ;-)

    mothergoosemouse March 5, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Stuck in a closet – god, I’d have been freaking out about that itself, let alone the unexplained bleeding.

    But yes – no matter how hard it was (and I’m one of those lucky ones who never had it really bad), it was an infinitesimally small price to pay for the wonder and joy of my girls.

    Lovely tribute, as always.

    SOLOMONSYDELLE March 5, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I am glad that despite the trying times you have a beautiful little baby to call your own. I am also glad that your experience has not discouraged you from going through pregnancy again. Children, despite the drama, are definitely worth the stress. God bless your family and yourself. Take care!

    Jenifer G. March 5, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Such a lovely post, and the photos are brilliant.

    I have had two miscarriages and it certainly is like nothing I have ever experienced. It is so profoundly sad and horrific and common all at once.

    I am so lucky to have Papoosie Girl and Rosebud and their happy faces and bright spirits are such a blessing.

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