|Me on the rocks, taken in Dysart by my very talented SIL|
When I was released from the hospital and left the building without our baby, we passed a heavily pregnant woman. I crumpled into a quivering mess of tears and snot and needed Dave to prop me up so that we could make it to the car. In that moment, I wanted to be someone else rather than who I had become: a DBB*.
From then on, my perception of pregnant women has radically changed. Whereas once I was indifferent (before pregnancy), I became awed and curious (during pregnancy) then finally, anxious, nervous and envious (after pregnancy). When I would see a preggo lady waddling towards me, I would avert my eyes and try to not guess where she might be in her pregnancy and not think of where I would be in mine at that time. I would also get really, really nervous for her. I’d mentally scream out warnings – “Hey you! Be careful! Love that baby every day because you might lose him or her, like I did!” Or, “Did you know that I’m part of the 1% of pregnancies that end in the second trimester?! I didn’t know it could happen but it did, so I hope to goodness it doesn’t happen to you!!” Of course I didn’t yell these things out, but I really, really wanted to.
Inevitably, OPP hit closer to home. As a woman in her early 30’s, it’s just a fact that you would know at least one other woman who is pregnant at the same time as you. I had three. It was all peaches and cream until WHAM! I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And that was hard. One person was a co-worker. She had her baby shortly after I had mine so I haven’t had to see her. Another is a close friend who went into labour I think shortly after I did. When I went home, I decided I couldn’t see her and be near her newly arrived daughter, her first born. We have just resumed phone calls, though she was reaching out through email over the last few months. And lastly, the other woman is my BFF who was about 8 months pregnant when I went home and saw her. For this visit, we opted to prepare each other for our first meeting in a year when so much had happened. Seriously, it was like getting ready for a middleweight fight. But in the end, meeting my BFF was good. We hugged and I felt her huge belly between us but luckily, that was the only thing that was in the middle. Thank goodness no other "stuff" made it's way between us. I’m grateful that the first pregnant person I had contact with was her. I don’t think I could have reached that milestone with anyone else.
So now, nearly 5 months later, it’s still hard, but I’m trying my best. My friend at work is pregnant and now noticeably so, so it’s in my face at least 5 days a week. Am I happy for her? Of course. She’s been trying for this baby and I’m happy she has this chance to partake in this miracle. Am I sad for myself? Most definitely because we had previously planned on getting pregnant together and spending maternity leave at each other's flats. But I can’t stop the world from turning. I only hope I can feel that phenomenon again.
The one type of OPP I can feel thrilled for without reservation is a DBB who becomes pregnant again. There is a woman in our support group who is pregnant again after losing triplets last year. When she told me her news, I burst into tears of joy and hugged her. I barely know her but I can understand where she is mentally. As a purely selfish gesture, I asked if I could feel her belly (very uncharacteristic of me). I just needed to feel that life after so many weeks of the oppressiveness of death. She obliged me and I was transported to when I was at that stage of my pregnancy. And it made me feel warm about OPP and so happy that bitterness and jealously hasn’t enveloped my heart.
*DBB is Dead Baby Mama, shorthand in the parental bereavement community. I will not let it define me.