Son of my oldest and dearest friend, who unfortunately lives on the other side of the country, he was born February 20th. His mother was the first person I told about my pregnancy last summer. We were due exactly one month apart (me, April 1st; her, March 1st). For a few weeks we were each others' rock, venting daily on the phone: my troubles with Lance, my horrific morning sickness; her toddler's speech issues, her exhaustion. That was an extremely difficult period for me, physically, emotionally and mentally but she made it bearable. We went through it together.
Then I miscarried. The daily phone conversations slowed down. She felt uncomfortable discussing her pregnancy woes with me when I was no longer pregnant, and I felt uncomfortable small- talking with her about other things, with the elephant of her pregnancy taking up all the breathing space. We still talked, frequently, (she is my best friend after all) but it wasn't the same. Every day her pregnancy progressed reminded me that mine had ended. Fortunately, a few months later, I was pregnant again. Our phone conversations began anew in earnest.
Hugo was born in February, a healthy beautiful baby and I was happy for her. I really was. Crushed, too, that my baby would not be born in a month, the way we had hoped, but okay. After all, I was pregnant too, by this point about 12 weeks pregnant, and I knew I'd have my baby come September. (I am due September 1st, 5 months to the day after my first due date)
Then I miscarry again. April 2nd, the day my baby should have been born; instead I had a D&E. After that, the black time, which I finally started to pull myself out of in June. I took the kids home to see family. And to see my best friend, and her three wonderful children, including the 4 month old Hugo.
He is the cutest baby you will ever see. I loved holding him and smelling him. But when I got back to California I cried for hours. I will never have 3 children. I will never have a baby again to smell, to hold, to love.
I am thrilled to get to watch this little boy grow up. But every milestone he reaches, from the first crawl to the first college acceptance letter--will remind me of my own lost boy--lost boys--and the milestones they should be reaching too.
Daughter to Lance's best friends' sister (got that?), she was born in the beginning of February. Her mother lives in Northern California but used to visit frequently, which I loved, because she has two girls similar ages to my two. One night in September she was visiting--we were both pregnant at the time and I went over to a friends' house to see her. We spent the time commiserating about the 3rd pregnancy, how no one seems to care about the 3rd, how people are actually kind of rude about it. Like, 'why would you have a 3rd? That's so irresponsible.' I bitched about my husband, told her what an ass he was being. "Yeah, you know what I told him? It's too late now, babe. What are you going to do? Pray for a miscarriage!" I said, laughing. She laughed too, and we clinked wine glasses. It was my first glass of wine of the pregnancy. I was 13 weeks pregnant, and feeling human for the first time in months. It seemed like a good time to have a glass of wine.
The next morning I discover the dead baby at my monthly OB appointment.
When Leah was born, in February, I was already pregnant again. I had the same pang on her birthday as I did with Hugo, but again, it was okay. I would have my baby, just not exactly when I expected.
A few days later we learned that Leah had Down Syndrome. Her mother had passed the 1st and 2nd trimester screenings with flying colors and so there had been no need to take the diagnostic tests. But an anomaly, and Leah was born with the syndrome.
It's a very difficult diagnoses. We go to visit in May, when I've lost the second baby. Leah is 3 months old now, but still very floppy, more like an infant than a 3 month old. Kendra, her mother, is having a really tough time but she is trying her best, she is muddling through. I ask her how she's doing.
"Bottom line, she's my daughter. And I love her with all of my being. So I have to do everything I can to help her." She says. "But it's hard, " she adds, in a whisper.
Turns to me, asks,"What about you?How are you doing?"
"Oh, you know. I'm okay. I'm pissed off at Angelina Jolie. But I'm okay." I pick up Leah and rub her back, drink in her baby smell. Pause.
"But I would kill to have Leah." I say quietly.
"I know", Kendra responds.
October 2007. I am sitting in Vivian's ballet class , smiling at the other mothers but not joining in the conversation, sitting off to the side, pretending to be engrossed in a book. I have just miscarried, I am still bleeding from the d&c. None of these mothers know I was pregnant. I notice some squealing where the other mothers sit, watch as one after another they get up to hug Betsy. "Congratulations!", I hear. "You are due in July?!"
Every week, she comes in with tales of the pregnancy. How she has explained it all to her 4 year old daughter (She is not even out of the 1st trimester yet). How she hopes it's another girl, but if it's a boy she is considering the name Isaac. How her clothes don't fit but she does not feel sick at all (She never gets morning sickness, isn't that odd? (I'm rolling my eyes here, if you can't tell) She just loves being pregnant!)
Then, in January, I am pregnant again. I start engaging in the conversations more. Asking about OBs, asking who will do a VBAC, counting the days until I, too, can tell everyone that I'm pregnant, when I can share in the squeals and the joy and the love. But in March we switch to a ballet class that is more convenient for us. I don't see her anymore, though I get periodic updates from another mom who has also switched.
In May, I have lost the 2nd pregnancy. I sign Isaac up for soccer, which meets every Wednesday at a nearby park. By coincidence Betsy is there, with her now huge belly, watching her daughter. She is thrilled to see me, and again I am regaled with pregnancy tales every week. This time I can't really bear it, so I have the neighbor start taking Isaac to soccer. Before I do, Betsy tells me, excitedly, that her daughter and Isaac will be going to the same kindergarten. I will be seeing her all the time in the fall.
In July, I get an email:
'Genevieve Theda, born June 30th. Healthy and happy, mom and baby doing great!'
At Vivian's new ballet, there is another pregnant mom, this one very pregnant. We have switched over in March, and to my untrained eye it looks like this woman will have the baby any minute. But week after week, she still shows up, looking bigger than the week before. I am intensely jealous of her large belly. I myself am starting to show, but still gun-shy about telling anyone. Still unsure that I will actually bring home a live baby. I decide I will tell them the next week.
Then I miscarry.
That week, the pregnant lady (I have never gotten her name, though we exchange pleasantries) is not there. The following week she is, this time carrying a teensy infant in a sling. This is Daeva. All the moms ooh and ah over the baby--really, there is nothing sweeter than a helpless newborn--but I can't look. I escape down the hall to get coffee, keenly aware of the bloody pad in my underwear.
She has been there every Monday since, growing rounder and stronger, a peaceful sweet baby who rarely cries. She is just a few weeks younger than my boy would be.
At the kids' Karate class, I sit next to another mom, watching our girls in the "tiger tots" class. It's pretty cute, and I enjoy watching Vivian do something physical. Generally speaking, she is not an active child. I have struck up a friendship with this mother, Collette. She is friendly and funny and our daughters seem to like each other. It is January or February, I am pregnant, but not obviously so. She confides in me that she is pregnant, due August 2nd. "Really?" I exclaim. "I feel like I look more pregnant than you do, and I am not due until September 1st!" This cements our friendship and we spend the next several weeks discussing our pregnancies. How the siblings will handle it, how it's been so long we have to buy all new stuff, whether we want a boy or a girl, and so on. She is one of the only mothers I have told. I love our Friday afternoons together.
Until I miscarry.
The next Friday I have to tell her that I am no longer pregnant. And then every Friday after that I sit next to her and watch her belly grow. She is extremely cognizant of my feelings but I insist that we keep speaking of her pregnancy. I ask how she's feeling, what she's done to get ready. I am not purposely torturing myself, I genuinely like this woman and I do want to hear about it. I am living vicariously through her, I suppose.
I have not seen her since the baby was born, a few weeks ago. But I think she will be at karate this Friday, teeny infant in hand.
One of Vivian's best friends at school is a little boy named Dylan. His family moved to LA from London in February. When I first met his mother, I thought she was a little heavyset; however, after a few weeks it became clear that she was pregnant. She is due in May, and in March I try to work up the nerve to tell her that I am pregnant too. That never happens, and I miscarry in April. A month or so later, Kaylana is born. Her dad gleefully comes to pick up Dylan, waving around his iphone with pictures of the beautiful infant.
"That's the way to do it, right, love?", he says to me, watching as I herd my kids into the car. "First the boy, then the girl, then done!"
Smiling, I say, "Oh, right."
"No more, though! Done now!" He grins at me, and waves, and heads off with Dylan.
Every day at pick up, Kaylana and her mother are there. The other children, my own included, are fascinated by her teeny tiny toes, her squawks and, later, her smiles. She looks exactly like her brother.
She is 4 months old now, getting bigger every day.
January 1st, 2008. We head over to a friend's house for their annual New Year's Open House. I am just barely pregnant, about 5 weeks. In the kitchen with the host, Michelle, I grab her arm.
"You're pregnant, right?" I ask. (I had been out with her a few weeks earlier and I noticed her drinking water)
"Um . . ."
"I am too!" I say, excitedly. "When are you due?"
"Oh, yay! Congratulations! Wow. I'm due August 3rd. What about you?"
"September 1st! I'm just a month behind you!"
Then we commiserate for awhile, venting about the exhaustion, the morning sickness, the fear.
Our pregnancies progress the way pregnancies do, each of us feeling terrible but still managing. Both of us are desperate for a VBAC, although I am superstitious enough to not want to think that far ahead yet.
When I am about 14 weeks pregnant, we go over to visit their new apartment. They have moved to a larger place, a little bit farther away, and I realize it is very close to the specialist who will do my 20 week scan. I make plans to stop by on my way home from that appointment.
At 17 weeks, I miscarry. Around the time my 20 week appointment should be, I ask her to come by my house and pick up all my baby stuff. The double stroller, the little boy clothes, all of it.
Shamefully, I haven't seen her since then.
On 8/8/8, Beatrice is born. I speak to both parents and congratulate them, make plans to meet the littlest member of their family in a few weeks.
I will watch this baby grow up, too. If Hugo is the doppelganger for my April 1st pregnancy, then Beatrice is the same for my September 1st pregnancy.
Yesterday, at preschool a new mother was dropping off her daughter. She is hugely pregnant. I smile at her, ask when she is due.
"August 30th", she says with a smile. "I can't wait to meet this baby!"
Thursday, August 14, 2008