It came without warning, without a thought really, it just happened. I was stopped at a red light, I hadn't felt the baby move for a while so I was pushing and prodding at my belly, again, trying to make it move. It seemed like it took forever and then they came, the kicks. I wrapped my arm around my bulging waist and the words came out, "I love you baby."
I guess all of my conscious attempts at not getting attached have failed. Which isn't to say that I have been actively trying not to love this baby, but I have been actively trying to prepare myself that I might not get to take this leprechaun home, alive. I often ask the little one, "Please don't die." or "Please kick for me so I know you are still alive", but I have never let myself admit any feelings for him or her, it just seemed way to daring, too dangerous to even attempt. Because letting myself feel things for this baby means, well you know what it means, if something goes wrong, ugh, I don't even have a word for what it means, but you who wear my shoes know what I am talking about. Have I been kidding myself that if I didn't let myself feel anything outwardly that if something went wrong I would somehow be more ok with it? I don't know. Why would I think that? Can I really be so simple minded that I think that by trying to ignore any feelings of attachment or dare I say love, that another stillbirth would hurt me less? Yes, I am and yes, I did, and yes, it is so stupid. I mean catastrophically stupid.
And today, when the words tumbled out and I hugged that place that so far has done right by this leprechaun of mine, I realized that the only thing I am doing by not getting attached to this baby is denying myself the unbelievably pure and sweet feelings that come from truly loving your child. My love for this baby has always been there, of this I am sure, but I have not let myself feel them, not one bit, until now. Today, I let myself get swallowed up in the real joy of it, the real hope of life, only for a little while mind you, but I did it. I am scared to death of it, all of it. The feelings, the loving, the risk of it, the possibility of another 'bad outcome', the weight of the choice to try to let myself love this baby, wholly and completely before I know if it's really going to make it out. I have made myself quite comfortable with the fear and the dread, and the anxiety. They are enormous burdens that I strap on my back every day, but for a long time the weight just seemed like part of me. And it felt safer to feel scared and anxious, truth be told, than it would ever feel to be hopeful and brave. And then today, those words came out and I swear it was as if a film was stripped from my eyes, the colors seemed clearer out my windshield. I realized I did love my baby and it felt good to love this baby, even if I could only think about it for a second. It was enough to start to chip away at some of the baggage dragging behind me that had suddenly become much too heavy to carry anymore.
I hate feeling scared and anxious, I hate shoving down any thoughts of hope for this baby. I hate that whenever people talk about "when" the baby comes, I always, either out loud or in my head, correct them and say if. I want to live in the world of the "when's", not in this crappy, dark world of "if"s".
I have wanted another child almost since the day my daughter was born. I waited patiently, never asking, not even once, for that baby. I never wanted to fight about it with my husband and when he finally said the magic words I was giddy. I had no fucking clue what we were headed for. And then when it all circled the drain, I did have to fight for that, this, child. My husband wanted NOTHING to do with another attempt at a baby. I argued with him, he didn't want another tragedy, the baby he would want. I told him flat out, our marriage would never be the same if he gave up on this, on me, on the baby. And yet at the same time I knew exactly what he was doing, he was protecting himself and me and our kids from a second trip to hell. He even asked me, "Do you really want to subject the kids to this again?" Usually a good move to bring the kids in to it but not this time. I was too selfish, too determined not to at least try, try not to have my last childbirth experience be one of death and pain and empty arms. I blinded myself to the emotional side of a pregnancy after a stillbirth. I knew there would be 'issues' but I told myself, you just have to deal with it, focus on the destination, not the journey.
Turns out you have to focus on the journey because, yep, the destination is still unknown. I know exactly where I want to go, always have, but I still have very little control over whether or not I get there. My whole philosophy of just jumping on the baby train, closing my window shades and turning up the music real loud while I wait for the conductor to tell me where I am getting off is not working for me anymore. I know I won't know where I am getting off until my feet hit the ground again but for now, I think I am going to turn the music down, pull the shade up a bit and maybe even peek out the window once in a while. Turns out I think I might want to see a bit of the scenery as it passes by, I might want to remember this trip as more than just a white knuckler I endured. There may come a time when another tiny passenger who made this trip with me asks me to retell how they made their way into this world.
And I think I will answer, 'if" I get the chance, that the real journey started one day with just a few simple words.
I love you baby.