Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Disappointed But Not Devastated | (3 is a magic number)

A February fog.

"Disappointed, but not devastated": the official stance Wolfman and I took on my miscarriage in May. (Comparatively, our official stance after the positive pregnancy test results three weeks previous had been, "Shit.")

I had hoped by this time, nearly six months out, my emotions and thoughts on the matter would've settled into something not tidy (never that), but appreciable--a sweaty manuscript I could, at least, grapple with. Instead, I have nothing, mind and heart a complete blank. The emotional landscape of this event in my life is one with neither blue skies nor looming clouds, but awash in white wispy nothing. In the months since my bleeding stopped, I have only grown more numb to the repercussions of my miscarriage, and perhaps part of the reason is because once I'd passed the tissue that could've been my second baby, my period started again exactly one month later. I had no reprieve, my life did not pause, everything moved on as it always has, as if nothing happened. Even my body, which experienced this event more than my mind, did not take an intermission to mourn. The pregnancy was too early, too new, was barely a thing at all. I had only just learned the fact of it before I had another fact to process--the lack of it.

When I carried my first baby, high on pregnancy hormones, I thought I'd be a mother a couple times over, at least. But, after the trauma of birth, the anguish I often felt in that first year with an infant, and the three years (and counting!) of sleeplessness, I realized I didn't want to do this again. For these and so many other reasons, Wolfman and I have made the decision together to join the One-And-Done Club. People ask all the time if we'll have another (unsolicited questions about your fertility and family planning don't stop after having a child), and it is always with complete relief and complete certainty that I say, "Absolutely not." I do not feel shame writing here, for your judgment, that I would not be the caliber of mother I am if I had more than one child. I don't have the patience, stamina, funds, or desire to mother more than just Martigan. He is my one and only.

So when I saw that positive pregnancy test in May, I felt a weird mix of dread and giddiness; it must've been something like mixing uppers and booze (though I'm a good girl and wouldn't know). The dread I've explained, the giddiness, however, is a little harder to qualify. In the weeks leading up to that positive pregnancy test, I'd been struck with an intense baby fever. I made frequent trips to the rack of infant clothes at work, ostensibly to sort and organize, but really I was shopping. I didn't realize I was pregnant, but I somehow knew. That is the only explanation I can find for this sudden, out-of-character desire to fondle tiny sleepers and awe over itty bitty dresses. Pregnancy the first time around was a kind of mystical experience, and my second pregnancy, though short, was the same. I was struck with baby fever because I was struck with a baby. This, I know. (Since the dissolution of that pregnancy, I have had no similar dreaminess over babies and their ephemera.) I want to make clear here that not every pregnant woman will experience those first weeks of fertilization the way I did. I only mention this part of the story because it is part of my story.

Whatever mind games my hormones were playing on me, the very raw truth is that I did not want to have a baby, and I am not in the position to have an abortion, but I was pregnant. I felt sorry for accidentally getting myself knocked up, for putting this burden on my marriage, my relationship with my son, the already shaky foundation of our paycheck-to-paycheck finances. And then, once my first trimester spotting turned into bleeding and tissue-passing, I felt sorry for not wanting that baby and not feeling sad to see it go.

When I told Wolfman I suspected I was miscarrying, he told me in that measured way of his, "This isn't your fault. This isn't my fault. We shouldn't feel guilty." When two magical thinkers build a life together, there is a lot of real estate for guilt. If that wispy, white nothing of my emotional landscape is hiding anything, it is a cloaked ship of guilt. Guilt is the secret wet knot of emotion I've laid a blanket of numbness over in subterfuge. I didn't want a baby, and so that little soul packed her bags and left to try her luck elsewhere.

I don't think about my miscarriage every day. Occasionally, with no warning, the thought does occur to me, Oh yeah... that happened to me, and I feel a kind of passive relief laced with just a pinch of regret. In the moments when we've been struck by some financial blow (which comes often enough), I've said to my husband, "It's a good thing I'm not pregnant," and he has agreed heartily, if a little morbidly. A pregnancy now (a baby in February) certainly would complicate and crowd things, would make our future a little more uncertain and unsteady. We would've made room, in our lives and our hearts, but I'm glad we didn't have to.

I took to Pinterest in the process of writing all this out, to get a snapshot of what miscarriage feels like for other women. It's a sad tag, and my heart ached for the women who ached. I don't ache. When I see women who are about as pregnant as I would've been right now, I think about that potential child. February has always been one of my favorite months for no reason at all, and this coming February I will probably do a lot of thinking about the second child that could have been. That's what Barbara Kingsolver says of miscarriage, that if you ask a woman who's miscarried, "how old would your child be now?" she'll know. I suppose I'll always know, too, but not in any way that breaks my heart. It was all too brief, too unwished for. That's not a kind way to speak about this event in my life, but beginning to end, it was not a kind event.

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