This post mentions my current pregnancy.
I forget everything.
I forget who I am. I wander the house and try to remember what did I like to do? what did I fill my time with?
I used to joke that pregnancy has a way of preparing you for motherhood, beginning with this annihilation of the self, this forgetting. Always tired, never enough time. First trimester spent on the couch or in bed, sleeping, feeling like crap. You work, you feed yourself, the dishes pile up, the smell in the kitchen sink makes you lurch backwards, away. Dust and cat hair curl in the corners, behind doors. You look wistfully at the garden, tomatoes and beans rotting on the vine. It is too much effort to go outside. The grass is getting longer and you can’t summon the energy to care.
Second trimester with its constant hunger, you pack an extra lunchbox for school. You stuff snacks in your purse, always prepared. Loaded with this extra weight, the extra bags—all just training for the diaper bag.
Even getting in and out of the car, at eight months, requires extra time, multiple trips. No longer able to twist back over the seat, you have to get out and walk around to the back door. Just getting you ready for the baby, you think, for the unclipping of the car carrier, the staggering up the steps to the back door, hands impossibly full.
Eight months, my old self draining away to make room for this new, this mother.
When Joseph died, time folded in on itself and there I was, myself again, unpregnant. Time stretched away in front of me but all the old things held a new emptiness. Same job, same house, same yard, same car. My new body fit easily back into them. I remembered how to do it all, how to stand close to the sink and wash a heavy pot, how to swing into the car and toss my purse over to the passenger seat, how to pack only one lunchbox.
We buy a new lawnmower and plant the garden we didn’t think we’d have this year.
Here I am again, 11 weeks pregnant. Six weeks of always tired, never enough time, lying in bed or on the couch, feeling like crap or sleeping. I work, I feed myself, the dishes pile up, and the dust and cat hair curl behind the doors. I forget who I am. I forget what I like to do, what I used to fill my time with. I forget everything.
He is everywhere in this pregnancy. Underneath everything, the deep ocean currents that don’t ripple the surface. He is a transparent overlay in my memory, and the root of every notion of pregnancy. I put my hands on my belly and try to picture this baby, an inch and a half long, and I think of Joseph. I climb in the car for my morning commute, intending to spend that time with this baby, but every morning I think, this is what I did with Joseph, and I spend the thirty-five minute drive with him, instead. I turn restlessly from side to side in the night and spend my early morning sleepless moments reliving Joseph’s pregnancy. The weeks I would lie awake for an hour in the middle of the night. The way I had to heave my belly over to the other side with my hands. How I situated the body pillow under his weight to relieve the strain on my muscles and ligaments.
I know this is only natural, this tendency to compare. We look to our prior experiences to inform the current ones. To see what we can learn; to see what we have already learned.
The morning sickness seems worse this time. It makes me irritable, resentful. When Anne can’t take my complaining anymore, I call my sister. It’s all for a good cause, she says.
What if it isn’t?
This is the fear that grows along with the baby in my womb.
I hear over and over the echo of the nurse who led our birthing class at the hospital: Pain with a purpose. Pain with a purpose. It is this line that broke Anne, when Joseph died. When the doctor told us I would have to deliver our dead baby.
I forget sometimes that there is a purpose. All this pain, this nausea, this physical discomfort as my body remembers how to stretch and grow—it is just that: pain. Because I cannot assume. It seems impossible that I will get to take a baby home from the hospital this time.
I forget sometimes that this is what I am doing: growing our second baby.
I forget sometimes to hope.
How has subsequent pregnancy changed your grief? How have you coped with subsequent pregnancies?