Thunder rolled in this morning with the empty stomach sounds of hunger. Distant lightning flashed on the horizon, and the rain came down in sheets.
I’ve been reflecting on my pregnancy, incomplete though it was, ending tragically at 17 weeks. When we found out our child had died, and when I felt her leave me in a birthing scenario I would never have imagined, I knew, undoubtedly, that something was missing.
I felt empty. After my urgent d&c a couple of days later, when the last little bits of her life were scraped away from me, I felt a hollowness unlike anything I’ve known. Something important was missing now. Someone was missing, and out of reach.
Throughout the 17 weeks of pregnancy, I felt uneasy. I didn’t trust myself. I recall being guarded about myself, not wanting to share the news. I struggled with severe morning sickness, terrible aversions to food. I’m pretty sure my diet consisted of more white bread than any human should consume in a lifetime. I felt afraid, even early on, that I was doing something wrong, that I shouldn’t tell the world, because this couldn’t be lasting.
But as it goes, telling one person is like a drop of watercolor, bleeding and running out to the edges in a moment. I came to terms with being publicly pregnant, though I suspect that my lack of enthusiasm may have raised a few eyebrows with the ‘oh that is so exciiiiting!’ crowd. Somehow, I always felt like a fraud.
I recall talking on the phone with my sister, telling her, ‘this doesn’t feel real, I feel like there’s nothing in there’. Everything felt surreal to me, as though some mistake had been made, maybe I wasn’t really pregnant. I had dreams that I went to see Dr. L only to discover that I had never had been.
Looking back, I already felt like something was missing.
I’ve said many times before that I feel like I should have known that my baby wasn’t growing. I should’ve known when our 9 week ultrasound showed our little peanut tucked away, low at the bottom of the screen, not moving or wiggling. But her heart was beating away. I should’ve known when, at our 12 week appointment with Dr. L he was unable to find a heartbeat on the doppler. I should’ve known when the nausea stopped. I should’ve known. I should’ve known that something was missing.
Looking back, it seems like I did.
Somehow, in my heart and in my body, I knew something was missing. I felt incomplete. Everyone told me that it never really feels real until you see and hold your baby.
But my feelings would never be taken away by that moment of happiness. My feelings would only be cruelly validated.
I look back on those feelings, that dreadful heaviness that I was missing something that other pregnant women seem to have, and I feel bogged down and solemn.
I wish I could recall my 17 weeks with my baby as happy, cheerful, full of hope and excitement. Yes, there was hope and love and I wanted this baby. I wanted to be this child’s mother. I imagined myself with her, imagined her as a baby, a toddler, as a kindergartener. I loved her. More than I could ever have expected.
But the looming feeling that something was absent from my life looms over me even now, now that there is tangible proof of that absence. I look back and don’t remember days of glowing skin, comfort and satisfaction.
I remember fear.
And it makes me feel, some days, as though everything’s been taken. Not only has my baby been taken, my pregnancy been ended far too soon, my plans and hopes destroyed, but on days like this, when I recall, so vividly, that feeling like there really was no baby, I feel like even the 17 weeks that I have are tainted. I feel like even that time, the only time I will ever have with her, is plagued with memories of fear and unease.
I wish I could be soothed by happy memories of rubbing my belly, feeling little kicks, feeling a growing child. I don’t have that. I have memories of wanting all those things.
I wanted to feel my baby grow stronger, bigger.
I wanted to feel my baby kick and wiggle, nudging me from the inside, curling up under my heart.
I wanted to feel pregnant.
But I didn’t. For 17 weeks, (save for about 11 weeks of nausea and discomfort) I didn’t.
I felt like something was missing.
And something was.
And someone is.
Evening slips into the sky with more grumbling thunder, churning clouds. The electric scent of storms hangs in the air.
The promise of rain.