Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fragile Hope

On Saturday I learned that someone I care for deeply is pregnant. She is due a few weeks after me. In almost the same breath with which she told me that she is pregnant, she said "It is not going to happen." She has two beautiful children, but since the second was born she has had three miscarriages, in her words, "each worse than the one before". A loss at 8 weeks. A loss at 12 weeks- with a cancer scare attached. And her most recent loss at 20 weeks. She too gave up trying only to find out shortly thereafter that she is pregnant again. And she greets this news with understandable anxiety. I'd even go so far as to say that she greets this news with terror. And I understand. I don't understand from the inside as I have not suffered the loss of a pregnancy. But... I do know that after my first insemination cycle failed, long time ago now, I pretty quickly said "Oh my God. What will I do if ever I miscarry?" Just not conceiving month after month after month was a rehearsal of hope and grief, over and over and over again. But still, I do not compare it to the devastation of miscarriage or still birth.

I have already blogged here about some of the anxiety or fear I have felt in this pregnancy. When my symptoms backed off at seven weeks I became very nervous that I was no longer pregnant, or that there had been some mistake, that, perhaps, I had never actually been pregnant. It is still hard to believe from time to time that I really am pregnant. My friend's daughter asked me this past weekend "How long have you been pregnant, Sarah?" "Oh, about eight weeks." "You don't LOOK pregnant." I agreed. I do not. And I explained why.

But on the plane to Chicago, and then in the hours of sitting and listening at this training event in St. Louis I have been knitting a baby blanket, for our baby. And Rebecca, my seminary roommate, has been sitting one table over and she has been knitting an adorable sweater (she went with orange and yellow, by the way) for our baby. And yes it is early. And yes, anything could yet happen. But... by the grace of God we will welcome a child into the world in December, and soon thereafter I will wrap him or her in a blanket knit by me, with hope knit into every row. And I will dress that baby in the adorable sweater I'm now seeing in the works and take a picture to send to Indiana, and I will know the hope that is represented in that sweater, a sweater that will be complete before the first trimester is.

Little by little people with me at this training event are finding out that I am pregnant. I'm nibbling on crackers constantly. I look a bit like death warmed over (I think). I was having a hard time staying awake yesterday afternoon. I'm avoiding caffeine and alcohol. And I'm knitting a baby blanket. Sometimes these factors trigger a question or sometimes I just feel like offering an explanation. Yesterday evening one of the participants admired the blanket I'm making and asked if it was for the same baby for whom Rebecca is knitting. I confirmed that indeed it is and told her just who that baby is. I also told her that it is early in the pregnancy. She asked "How early?" And when I said "Nearly nine weeks," she winced. "Ooh, that is early. Just get to 12 weeks before you tell anyone."

I understand that philosophy. I do. But... despite my anxious tendencies, despite all the reasons I have to be suspicious of hope, despite all the vulnerability of this season of our lives... I'm actually hopeful. I'm actually joyful. I'm actually grateful. I know that it is not a given that I would be able to feel this way so soon. And I know that it is perhaps dangerous to feel this way so soon. But I have never had this experience before. And though I do not know what the outcome will be, I am having this experience now. And if I am able to let hope conquer anxiety, that is a gift and a privilege that I want to gratefully receive.

14 comments:

laurie said...

BRAVO!! embrace this...you deserve it. wrap your heart around it and love every minute of it. chris and i as well chose to tell people when we were 7 days pregnant with IVF. the more prayers the better!! i read in one of my many "going through infertility books" to have responses ready for such idiotic statements. something like...do you think it's pretty safe to say i might get to the bathroom in the next 20 minutes??...humor will go along way. i too sufferred from "am i really pregnant, or still pregnant syndrome". thankfully chris was in residency and able to bring home the doplar (?) so i could listen to the heartbeat a million times a day! i think they sell them now. i love you and am rejoicing with you and kevin~laurie

esperanza said...

I am so glad to read this.

Shalom said...

I can only imagine the anxiety that goes along with such a long wait. But I pray daily for you that the joy and hope finally simply overwhelm the anxiety so you can enjoy every day. (Insofar as 'enjoyment' and 'nausea' go together.) Peace always.

KnittinPreacher said...

My prayers are with the three of you every day. Stay with the hope, joy and gratitude.

You've got my fingers itching....

daisy said...

as I stated to the one you care deeply for as I do, just day by day, live and love that day and the baby. Each day is a gift. Sharing with others does bring much support and joy. Daisy

Jon said...

It's very, very scary but it sounds like you are living with it well. I always told myself that the odds were in our favor (I know, a sort of shallow help).

I would also say that in my experience the doctors find a way to scare the crap out of you. If they tell you the baby is too big, small, there's too much fluid, there's not enough fluid, something's on the screen, etc, etc, etc, try not to take it too seriously. Stick with that hope.

steve said...

Very well said. All hope is, in some ways, fragile -- particularly in situations where it has been dashed in the past. But to continue to hold onto hope, despite (and perhaps in some ways because of) its fragility...that, I believe, is a path of faith. Peace, friend.

Magdalene6127 said...

(o) this made me weep.

Love you so much.

Iris said...

(o)

j said...

Yep--just hold onto the hope and live in it. That fierce and powerful kind of belief has good energy attached to it (which is not to say that your thoughts and emotions are solely responsible for the growth of your baby, of course!)...and I can't think of any possible way that good energy could harm your baby. Just hope and believe. You are surrounded by good people who hold that hope with you, and who will support the whole journey.

Lorraine said...

Keep knitting and keep loving that baby, and try not to listen to all the oh-so-NOT-helpful comments thrust on you by other people. I've always wondered why people feel obligated to tell pregnancy horror stories to pregnant women (or to anyone with any kind of medical issue). Seems to me that the only appropriate response by someone who you've just told that you're pregnant is "oh I'm so happy for you! and that blanket is such a lovely color." period.

{prayers} and {hugs}

LittleMary said...

this is a rich entry, S., i am hoping along with you. and orange and yellow are my favorite colors.i wish i knew how to knit.

Silent said...

I love your last paragraph particularly. You ARE having this experience now. And I believe from now on you will always be a mother--no matter what happens in the days, weeks, years to come. The truth is that we never know--after 12 weeks, after 20 weeks, after 40 weeks, after a baby's birth. I belive that the best thing you can do is live today loving your baby and yourself. ((Sarah))

PK said...

Still rejoicing with you. Proud of you... that you are able to sit in the joy... and not be overwhelmed by the possibilities and improbabilities of pregnancy. Soon... you will not look... or feel like death warmed over. You will glow... only like a pregnant woman can. God's peace with you in these early weeks!!!!! (((baby))) (((you)))