"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't mention the bump

I'm still here, but have gone quiet for a bit.  It is so hard to capture everything going on at the moment.  I'm at that funny stage where some people will look pointedly at my middle and say, "Are you....?" and I'll have to confess, Yes, Pregnant, while others are still surprised when I tell them.  Either way, there is a lot of telling going on, because being the blathermouth that I am, I'm not likely to leave things unexplained or unelaborated.  And yet, it all feels so awkward, because so often there is a great yawning gap between their and my understandings of what all this pregnancy business means.  For me, this is not a easy topic about happy future plans and discussion of baby products, it is a hot ball of molten lava which is both an amazing, miraculous thing and a very dangerous and unpredictable substance.  I need to put on the fireman's gloves for that.  It is here, on the newsy surface of things which people feel happy talking about, whether they know me or not and yet it is chained directly to my heart, so that even just telling people I am pregnant feels like an intimate exposure. 

For people who don't know our story, this inevitably leds into variations of the question "Is this your first baby?".  I'm getting better at getting the words out.  No, our first daughter died...  car accident ... eight months pregnant.  And now that I've said it so many times, I can almost roll it out easily and move on with the conversation - out of self-preservation rather than callowness.  They usually apologise - this was not the territory they were meaning to steer us into.  So I need to sum it up so that we can move back to safe territory - "It's okay.  It just meant that getting pregnant again was a Really Big Thing.  Extra precious."  Which doesn't really even begin to sum it up, but that's the best I can do for chit chat. 

For friends and family who know the back-story, many have surprised us with the genuine intensity of their joy for us.  It feels like a gift in itself, but I can't quite meet them on that optimistic territory - I just stand there smiling nervously and saying, "Yes, fingers crossed". And I think for a second - am I actually pregnant?  Or have I just made a silly mistake?  And I have to prod my belly surrepticiously, feeling for that taut roundness of womb. 

Because, as amazing as it is to be pregnant again and to be feeling those first flutters, I have no illusions that this is a done deal.  Knowing how many things could still go wrong (and have gone wrong for other babies I know of) makes it all the more precious.  That bit is true, even if a small corny word doesn't capture the tenderness of it.  But there's still a part of me that wants to save the celebrations until this chicken is well and truly hatched.

Zainab would nearly be two by now.  Most of the babies who were belly-side with her are now speaking, playing games, running on sturdy small feet and learning to crack tantrums.  Our street is lush with roses at the moment.  I lean right in to smell them, crush the petals to my lips and talk quietly to my baby daughter.  Her star has reappeared, now in a different part of the sky.  The ritual of missing her is built into my life now - I stand at the dresser and consult her serious sleeping baby face on which brooch to wear, which earrings.  When things are hard, I sigh "Oh Khallila" for her comisserations.

So many cues are interwoven with the missing of her.  Wind in the gum tops makes me picture her as snugglepot and cuddlepie bush baby, learning to sing magpie warbles.  The startling orange-red of pomegranate flowers against grass green leaves - those are the colours I wear for her.  Poems, comic topiary, haloumi cheese, earrings - my link to her is cobbled together from so many little things.  Even the little time I hive away for writing or art - this is a part of my life she reawakened in her short path through it.  And every bit of being pregnant reminds me of her - suddenly I can recognise myself again as the mother-body who housed her.  I'm becoming familiar with this mosaic-daughter, pieced together from so many small reminders and memorial acts.  But I still hanker for her wholeness, and the thought of her dark-haired small form moving and making noise. 
Image from here.


  1. i totally get that vulnerability you feel when you become exposed as pregnant to other people. i wasn't prepared for how protective i became of harvey once i started to show with dot. an yes those questions 'is this your first/only child' will keep on coming. really beautiful post hanen.

    btw you are painting a picture so far of a pregnant woman with really big knickers on and firemans gloves! love it. take care, its a big couple of months coming up hey xxx

  2. i'm not really sure there's anything i can say, other than that i read your post, and it's lovely.

  3. It is amazing to me how we can now tell their stories and almost not bat an eyelid. Just rattle off the facts, stony faced. I guess that's what time does.
    Thinking of you all.

  4. This post is lovely, and that last paragraph - oh, it just got to me. It's amazing and beautiful how pregnancy after a loss brings so many memories back, so strongly.

    Keeping you in my thoughts and sending love.

  5. Hello there...First off I wanted to thank you so much for your email. I composed a prolonged and superflous email in response, sent it off, only to be told by blogger, oh wait you can't respond to the response you read via email. DAG!

    I would love to see that belly that is making you confess.
    I am at 5 months starting to be able to tell people matter of factly...sometimes I shed tears in the process as they offer their condolences but it is so much a part of this story, my story, Camille's story. Nothing but truth will do and so it spills out of my mouth. I don't know yet what it is like to have grief tangled up in pregnancy, only grief tangled up in raising a small child. Very different from eachother, yet still both very tangled.
    I am thinking of you all the time and sending my love across the ocean.