When I was pregnant with Annie, I was constantly gripped with a sense of foreboding, convinced something was going to go wrong. I know now that most of that stemmed from my experience with Madeline’s pregnancy and sudden death. At the time, however, I was convinced it was because I was intuiting signs from my body. No matter what I said or how I acted, on the inside I was convinced that something was going to go terribly wrong. Maybe somehow I was preparing myself, that if something happened it would somehow hurt less.
With my last pregnancy, I had a similar sense of impending disaster. And while I definitely had some signs that contributed to that feeling, I think the biggest reason I felt uneasy had nothing to do with the pregnancy at all. In February, Jackie was told that her tumor had stopped responding to treatment, and that she was at the end of her life. Knowing that she was in her final days was all-consuming for me. No matter what I said or how I acted, I was gripped with a fear that this was going to be the day she died, because no one had any idea exactly how it was going to go down. My worry for her colored everything around me.
The end for Jackie was like slowly watching a paper bag drift to earth. The bag would dip close to the ground, but then a gust of wind would push it hundreds of feet into the air. Sometimes the trials she was on appeared to be working, and other times the MRIs showed that was not the case. I spent months squinting at that paper bag, willing it to fall slower, softly, gently. I ran below, hoping to catch it and help ease it down. I never took my eyes off that paper bag, even when my own suddenly slammed into the ground right at my feet.
I never let myself get truly, wholly sad about the miscarriage because I knew something else was on the horizon. I couldn’t help but compare the two losses in my mind, even though I knew it wasn’t fair or rational. But in the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage I kept saying over and over to myself, “This isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to you, this isn’t even the worst thing that will happen to you this year.” I was protecting myself, but also preparing myself. I stepped over my paper bag with the intention of coming back to it later…after.
Yesterday I came across the only ultrasound photos I have from the pregnancy, a hasty cell phone snap of still images on the computer screen taken at my seven week appointment. I didn’t ask for a print-out…I don’t know why.
It’s been four months since I miscarried, but the only emotion I feel now is guilt for not being horribly grief-stricken. Maybe it will hit me come December, when the baby would have been here. I don’t know. Maybe my paper bag is in an updrift. Hopefully it will fall gently to the ground.