*Possible trigger – post about rainbow pregnancy. Just wanted to note that here since the title didn’t necessarily make it obvious, for those who don’t want to read about this topic*
In many ways, this entire pregnancy with Ella Jane has been filled with deja vu. Jacob’s and Ella Jane’s due dates are exactly a year and 5 weeks apart. Accordingly, I’ve again counted all my weeks of pregnancy starting on Sunday. I’ve been pregnant in all the same seasons, during all the same holidays, through all the same changes of weather, and each of these milestones can trip me up and make me feel one or both of two difficult feelings: (1) this last year never happened, and/or (2) this is all happening the same way, it could have the same result. Needless to say, neither of those thoughts are comfortable ones to sit with. And as I near the end of the pregnancy, the deja vu only becomes more frequent, and the sense of what I stand to lose more profound.
Last year we had “last” get togethers with friends and family…”last hurrahs” before baby, if you will. Erik and I had “last” date nights before time alone as a couple would be scarce. We had the well-wishes, and the “it’s so soon”s and the “Elizabeth won’t be at that meeting/event, she’ll have a 1 (or 2 or 3) week old then!”s. Guess what…we now get all of those all over again. We get the “enjoy your sleep/date nights/quiet/alone time now, you won’t get it again in a while!” It’s only natural. And please don’t take this the wrong way, I do NOT fault the people saying these things to us. Sometimes it’s even us saying them. Because it’s probably true, and to not acknowledge that I’m having a baby next week would definitely be awkward. And to the extent people might recognize that they said the same thing last year and are repeating themselves, I’m sure they are only doing it from a place of optimism and love.
But it still stings. It still feels like we got a whole 13 months of sleep, date nights, quiet, and alone time that, as wonderful as those things are, we never wanted. It’s still more difficult than it is exciting to be re-packing hospital bags, washing and hanging baby clothes, and getting the nursery back into a baby-ready state after it sat cluttered and closed for months. It still makes me tense to suggest or act as if we are in any way taking for granted that Ella Jane will arrive safely and that we won’t go through the heartache again. Even though I know that all the odds are in our favor, and it’s best to be positive, and we do need to be prepared, that was all true 13 months ago too, wasn’t it?
Over the last year, I’ve definitely learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. So when these situations arise and they cause painful emotions, I let that be okay. It’s okay that it’s painful, and it’s also okay that someone (or I) said the thing that doesn’t seem quite right. Because we are all doing our best in an uncomfortable situation. The danger is when I let my mind wander to the “what ifs.” And it’s really easy to do. What if these again are not our last date nights? What if we get another year of sleep uninterrupted by baby cries? What if lightening does strike twice (because though they say it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure if you’ve been struck by lightening you’re at least a little nervous during a thunderstorm).
My best recourse to prevent these uncomfortable feelings from spiraling into full blown panic has been to focus on the here and now. I remember saying to our pastor in one of his several visits to us after losing Jacob that the next time I was pregnant the only way to get through it would be to focus on gratitude each day that I had a live baby growing inside me. This is one of those instances when hindsight actually proves my thinking right. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the opportunity to carry Ella Jane another day (or another hour), or for her kicks and squirms, or for the peace I do sometimes feel about her well-being. So when I feel myself sliding toward panic, the only real remedy is to focus on physical sensations and the present. To take deep breaths, to say a prayer or mantra, to feel a kick or squirm, to do some yoga. Although we are programmed to focus on the past, fearing a repeat of impossible experiences and emotions that are still so vivid in our memories, or the future, talking about last date nights, presumed exhaustion from lack of sleep, and meetings that will be missed, all we really have is the present. So no matter how scary it might be to look back or look ahead, there is this safe space called “now” and pausing to appreciate it while we are able is about the only way I’ve found to bring peace amidst the very uncomfortable deja vu of this pregnancy, especially its long last weeks.