How expecting a healthy baby after a medically fragile one is as scary as it is awesome
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.” - Stephen King
Recently, two close friends each had wonderfully healthy baby boys. I did wonder if I would be resentful - of their labour, of their quick return home, of their baby’s easy weight gains. I found myself instead very relieved for their beautiful normality and very hopeful for us. Seeing their experience, so close to our turn to do it all again, generates new, wonderfully fresh, thoughts in me about how it could possibly be.
A fair few weeks ago, I said to Marcus tearfully that I just wanted to jump from being happily pregnant now to having a healthy Happy Zoosee in our arms. There was a great chasm in my mind around what happens between these two places – a chasm that was filled with fear and sadness.
I think it was because I was also happily pregnant with Albie and then in his birth and the days afterwards it all went westward too fast. Despite the reassuring scans, the idea of a healthy baby coming home with us still seems rather fanciful to me.
When I think of starting on motherhood round two, my logical mind can understand that it will all be different this time. And that is so exciting. So, so exciting!
But my body and my soul, only knows an experience of motherhood that I really don’t want to go back to. Of course, we knew great joy and love with Albie, as all new parents do. But there was also so much terror wrapped around that love. My memories of Albie’s infanthood are very much tainted with the 1.5 metre long cord that attached him almost continuously to his oxygen saturation machine, daily weigh-ins, endless pumping, and a tired, unwell baby. I was so fearful Albie would die, for so long.
I am a natural optimist. I do see this world as beautiful – and our lives within it a gift. I have become more and more conscious though of what a protective coat Pollyanna has been for me. Looking back at Albie’s baby days, these days and these days and even these days were all so hard and yet, I presented it to the world with such lightness. I know how important it is to laugh in the face of great sorrow – but to not recognise the sorrow’s existence at all? I’m not sure that is so healthy for anyone. Perhaps I was trying to convince myself, as much as anyone, that despite appearances to the contrary, all was okay. I can forgive myself for that.
But now that we come to go back to the start again, there is no ignoring the truth in me. They weren’t happy and easy days with Albie, and I have felt such resistance in me about this pregnancy.
There. I said it.
Sometimes, when the truth isn’t exactly pretty, it is a tricky beast to share. Hence the silence on this blog – I’ve been clammed up, trying to conjure a more palatable way to say that I’ve been scared to become a mother again.
I do know it is a selfish thing to write. I know I have a lot to be grateful for. You all ride along with us here – in friendship and companionship no doubt – but without the same set of experiences as me. And I am worried you’ll misunderstand what I am trying to say. I know I am absolutely lucky, and I do love this child. It has just been much more complicated than I ever would have envisaged.
Thankfully, I can write of this all here, a little easier now, because I have moved on a little from it. For the first time in my life, I’ve been going to weekly psychotherapy and it has been fantastic. A not-so-slow reveal of myself to myself that has been letting in a little more acceptance and a lot more peace. And, if I look at this post too, perhaps just a little more honesty as well.
We have just under ten weeks to go. I set up Happy Zoosee’s bed beside ours. A little early, perhaps, but it was heart-filling all the same.