The last week has been something of a rollercoaster ride.
I started telling people I was pregnant. I know, there's that 'you should be cautious' vote. I used to subscribe to that opinion; that it is better to not tell people until you are past the 12-week danger zone. I've done that, waited to tell. Okay, I waited once. The first time. All I found was that I missed the chance to share the early part with people I cared about. And I missed the chance to have them support me through the uncertainty. Not that I was all that concerned - I was innocent to the risks. They were academic, not applicable to me. Things worked out fine that time, and that's great.
But after that, even though I found it difficult to tell people, "no, sorry, not this time," I also found that I coped better with their support than without it. I felt more sane and real, and felt I had a better chance of weathering the ups and downs of grief and healing if people knew I was on that particular ride. So I told. And the next time I told again, and the time after that. I learned along the way to filter somewhat for the sake of other people's pain. Some of my friends took it too much to heart, and that wasn't what I wanted, either. I learned where the line was, and have held to it pretty well.
I told again this time, too. Not everyone, just a few, the ones that I knew wouldn't be heartbroken for me if I lost it again, but would be able to provide some kind words and support, should this one not stick, either.
Then WHOOSH, the rollercoaster ride dropped out from under me. I was dumped to the ground level and slammed sideways by a few words, barely a moment in time. I swear, I like rollercoasters. (And am I trying to convince you of that, or myself?)
The pain came from an unexpected direction. My mom. I love her, and we're pretty close. She also irritates the heck out of me now and then, but it doesn't bother me in the long run - she and I are not the same person, and there are bound to be things about me that bug her, too. Personalities aside, she's been a great mom. Following our initial role-acclimation after Gabe was born (grandmothering was as new to her as mothering was to me, after all), we settled into a nice mutual appreciation society. She has lauded my skills and instincts, and has told me more than once that I'm a better mother than she ever was. In return, I grant her the grace of being a major part of the reasons for my skill - she dragged our branch of the family tree out of a pit of horrors that doesn't bear telling, and reinvented motherhood for herself and her children, hoping to grow us better than she had been grown. She got some parts wrong, and other parts right, and never stopped learning, and is still learning - she's certainly a brilliant grandmother. Because of her start and her example, I could continue from higher ground, instead of starting over in the dark pit of abuse, pain, and despair my grandparents dug for their children.
Sorry, I'm digressing. I was discussing the rollercoaster drop. I called my mom and told her I was pregnant. I expected her to be excited, and she was. I'd forgotten how excited she gets each time. That much emotional investment makes me uncomfortable at this stage. I felt like I'd announced that I'd won the Nobel Peace Prize. Okay, okay, mom, thanks, but let's not get TOO excited just yet, okay? That's when the hit came. The next words out of her mouth were an implication that the miscarriages I'd suffered were my own fault. If I'd just accepted the souls that came, instead of holding out for the boys I'd dreamed of as a kid, I'd have had my third child by now, not have suffered all those losses. I don't know if I imagined the bitterness of her tone, the snapped off ends of the words indicating the degree of hurt SHE felt over my supposed willful rejection of my babies.
I remember a rollercoaster from my childhood that splashed down through water - was it the Matterhorn? This was far worse in both degree and temperature. The off-hand accusation left me paralyzed and cold, drenched in glacial ice-water, unable even to breathe for a moment. I am pretty sure I snapped back something about it not being up to ME what soul stays or goes. I don't remember clearly. My ears were still ringing from the shock.
But up again goes the rollercoaster, and we rapidly segued into safer topics.
Sigh. I know she wants me to want a girl. I know she wants me to have a girl. And I know she thinks I miscarry girls. But I just don't feel it. I'll love a girl with all my heart if I get one, but I don't expect one, and I feel no need for one. Some small regret if I don't, yes. There are possibilities with girls that won't exist for only sons - but they are only possibilities, not guarantees. I know plenty of girls who aren't girly at all, who aren't maternal, who don't want to know, let alone pass on, the stories of their foremothers. I don't get to pick the gender, and I don't get to pick the character, personality, style, and life path. With all the possibilities, I still don't have any burning need to have a daughter. I suspect that my mom thinks I just don't get it. Perhaps she's right. Okay, she probably is right. Yet I still don't feel any urgency to go there. I'd lose just as much by not having another boy, not experiencing what life is like with three sons, too. There's enough to miss either way, I'm not willing to load my life with angst over it. I am, however, willing to forgive my mother her frustration with my disregard of what she sees as important, though I'm not likely to forget it anytime soon.
So back up goes the rollercoaster, chug, chug, chug.
When I told my in-laws, they were cautiously optimistic. I was feeling ill, that was good, and we compared morning sickness stories. One sister-in-law offered her heartfelt wishes (and I'm sure prayers to follow) for a good outcome. I talked with the other sister-in-law about my feelings at this point, and the bitter sorrow of realizing that I'd lost the sense that pregnancy is connected to an actual baby. Pregnant is just a physical state for me, not something that automatically has another whole new human being involved. Too many times, I've experienced symptoms and then nothing else. After that discussion, I felt lonely and lost again. It shouldn't be this way.
Down again, not as jarring a drop, but still a down-slope.
And up again, as I overheard my older son, Gabe, talking to my younger son, Bren in serious tones: "Now Brendan, you will have to watch me very carefully. Pay attention, and you can learn everything you need to know to be a big brother." Brendan responded with a solemn nod and eyes wide with awe of the responsibility presented him. They're great kids.
And up another slow incline, as my husband kept track of my moods, asked me how I was feeling, and agreed that I should definitely use pen on my pregnancy calendar.
And down again. On Tuesday, my symptoms faded. I woke up in the morning feeling GREAT. No nausea, no sleepies, just wonderful. Hmmm. I watched symptoms through the day, hoping to get the excessive salivation, at least. Nope. Down and down we go. Then I noticed that the metallic taste in my mouth was gone. I wasn't having to pee . . . AHHH! A serious panic attack ensued. MOB. Miscarriage on the brain, and as wild, uncontrollable, and unmoved by logic as any mob in the typical sense of the word. But I have an answer for MOB. Testing.
I called my midwives, and asked them if they'd be willing (please?) to order quants (hCG levels, two days apart) for me. No problem, they faxed the forms off right away. I left work early to get there in time, only to find out that they close an hour earlier than I thought. Dang. Have to wait another day to find out. But having done something active to find out, I felt a lot better. I got the kids early, and went home and we played in the yard, me pushing them on the swings in the absurd chill of this crazy early spring until our hands were blue and our noses pink from the cold. By dinner time, I was feeling properly put off by smells, had nice levels of hunger and salivation, and my mood was coming up.
My husband gave it another boost upward, telling me that he had consciously opened his heart to another child, to make sure that there was no negative energy coming from his side. We'd discussed timing, and intent, and had been trying . . . but hadn't gotten around to really welcoming another child, all official-like.
Up again, and up some more! I got the first blood draw immediately after the lab opened in the morning. Waiting wasn't even that hard. I was turning green (in the ill kind of way) again, and feeling a bit foolish for having worried so the previous day. Still, it would be good to know.
My midwife called me at work in the afternoon. My numbers? 5440. She said for this stage of pregnancy, they use a range of 100-4,000 - so I was high! Very high. High is good. High is much less worrisome. High also means somewhat higher odds of twins (though some singletons are higher than most twin pregnancies, so this isn't more than just interesting news . . . yet). Small eek, but I know we'd welcome twins, too, even though it would mean yet another birth NOT in the Birth Center.
More importantly, I fished around on the internet and found information suggesting that even at my advanced maternal age (37), my odds of miscarrying if my numbers are over 4000 are about 6%. Whether those odds hold true under clinical conditions, I have no idea. But I'll take them anyway.
Up, up, and up, with the birds and the clear blue sky, and the view spreading out to the far horizon. Not even the (quite rational) cautious-enthusiasm from one of my sisters-in-law could bring me down this time.
I've got good odds of stickage. I'll take those odds, and enjoy the view from waaaay up here for now. It is lovely. I appreciate it with every cell in my body, every flicker of energy in my soul, and all the more for knowing how far down I can go.
I like rollercoasters. I really do.