********WARNING – BABY LOSS DISCUSSED BELOW. IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED BABY LOSS OR BABY LOSS IS A TRIGGER FOR YOU IN ANY WAY, I SUGGEST YOU SKIP THIS POST.*******
I’ve decided I’ll tuck pregnancy posts away on Fridays, when fewer people seem to read/comment anyway. Hopefully this way they will be easily avoidable for those who’d just rather not read about pregnancy right now. I have been where you are and I support you 100%! So please feel free to click away, like two sentences ago.
So we found out almost three weeks ago that we’re having a boy. I have to admit, I was surprised. I didn’t realize I thought we were having a girl until the tech was like, yep, there’s the penis. I just sat there, flummoxed, wondering how and why my second daughter had male genitals.
Turns out she has them, because she is actually a boy.
After about three days of processing this information (and I still seem to be processing it, I will admit), the fear started hitting me in waves. You see, I was always a little worried that I would have a boy, not because boys are considered to be more rambunctious, not because I worry I won’t know how to foster a son’s love of team sports (which I know nothing about), not even because boys are more likely to be interested in violent video games that I don’t want to think about, let alone making responsible decisions about (and yes I know all these examples are incredibly stereotypical, and might not apply to my son at all), no the reason I have always been so scared to have a boy is because my mother lost all of hers.
My mother gave birth to four girls, three of them were very healthy. She also lost three boys, all around 20-24 weeks. From what I can piece together, at least one was a stillbirth and the other must have been a preterm labor because the baby was alive when it was born. I haven’t really figured out what happened to the third; my mother doesn’t really like to talk about it.
My mom lost her three boys and she was never properly allowed to mourn them. She did not give them names or bury them or have memorial services in their honor. They were just unceremoniously disposed of at the hospital and she was asked to move on with her life.
She never found out why she lost all her boys. I’m sure a big part of her blames herself, her body. She says she would get these horrendous fevers and then she’d birth her dead or dying sons. There was nothing she could do to stop their coming. In her mind, her body rejected them.
Of course back then they didn’t do any genetic testing to determine what might have been wrong. There was no way, really, to know why she lost her sons. Maybe her body really did reject boys. My friend–who is now an MD–believes there may have been something wrong with my father’s X chromosome. She assures me the chances of that being the case are way higher than my mom not being able to carry boys to term. And there is always the possibility that it was just random bad luck.
But carrying four girls to term, even when one had significant health issues and losing three boys? I can’t fathom that that was just a really shitty coincidence.
So when I heard that I was carrying a boy I almost immediately started to worry that I might lose him.
I know I am not my mother. I know her story is not my own. And yet, I share so many of her reproductive issues. What if she did have some rare physical condition that makes it impossible for her to carry a male child to term? What if I share that same rare condition?
Right now I am 21.5 weeks pregnant, but really, if you go by the date of my last period I’m only 20 weeks (the baby measured 10 days ahead at both my 12 week and 20 week scans so they moved up my EDD). That means this month is the one where it may happen. If I am going to loss my son like my mother did hers, it will happen in the next four weeks. And I will admit, these four weeks will be terrifying for me.
I know there is nothing I can do to reassure myself that I will not lose my son. I try to tell myself that medicine is so much better now, that even if my body does try to reject my baby boy they may now be able to save him. I tell myself the chance of this even happening are so small, that I have no real reason to worry. I tell myself all sorts of comforting things and some of the time, they actually make me feel better. Some of the time, I’m not worried at all.
But other times, I am terrified.
Last night I lounged in bed as my little man danced and flipped inside me. For thirty minutes or more, I lay there still, cherishing each and every kick and eventually I just started sobbing with this immense gratitude. I am so incredibly thankful for having this baby inside of me, for those moments when I feel him move and my heart swells to bursting with this love I can’t quite articulate. I just can’t believe I have been given this second chance, this opportunity to experience pregnancy again, to have another baby. I know I could lose this baby at any moment–I’ve heard so many stories of those who have–but I am so overwhelmed with what I’ve been given so far, I find that this time around I am able to be truly thankful for what I have without needing a guarantee of what I WILL have. Last night, feeling my son kick inside me was enough to make me cry with happiness. I didn’t need to know he’d be okay, and that is a huge step. I hope I can hang on to that throughout this difficult month and the less difficult months that will hopefully follow.
Whenever I feel my fears tugging at me I remind myself that I truly believe this pregnancy was meant to be. I was meant to know this little boy, even if I only ever know him as playful stirrings inside me; he was meant to be a part of my life. And I take great comfort in that, despite the fear that I still might lose him.
I am carrying my son inside of me. From what the doctors can tell, he is healthy and strong. I am not my mother. Our story, my son’s and mine, is not hers. And I am so grateful for our story, no matter what the ending.