I'm now 26w pregnant, and it is odd to be back in this visibly, publicly pregnant state - almost as big as I was when we lost Z. And I'm just realising that, no, I didn't imagine it - my boobs really were this big last time, my belly really was this huge. It's almost as though, when Z died, a part of me felt that because I hadn't managed to deliver a living baby, that my pregnant and post-partum body was somehow imagined - or worse, a kind of fakery, when really - there was no baby to show for it. As though I wasn't entitled to have all this odd bodily paraphenalia of pregnancy. As though her death cancelled out the whole pregnancy and turned all our plans and love for her into self-delusion. Here I was, impersonating a mother. Back when I started this job, I thought of myself as an injured person recovering from a car accident rather than a new mother of four months. I was so focused on getting back on track so that we could get pregnant again - grief was an energy-sucking distraction, an indulgence.
I look back and I'm shocked at my own cruelty to myself. It took me quite a while, but I've now properly claimed that title of mother to Z. While it still breaks my heart that she's not here and whole, revealing her two-year-old self to us, I'm proud of her. And I feel like I've learned a huge amount about being a mother because of her. That I can survive the unimaginable, that I can feel that awful and still be me - even if it is a weepier, more fragile me. That things can be completely, irretrievably broken, and mundane or miraculous at the same time. I'm kind of stunned that I had this depth of love within me - to love a child who isn't even here, who gives us no tangible sign of response, and yet who makes love spill out of me in such a way that I have to lavish it upon the stars, earth, sea and air in the hope that maybe some of it will hit one of her atoms. She has, exactly as I feared, made me into a bit of a grief-struck crazy-lady, but in a much more whole and connected way than I ever imagined. I even have some fondness for my crazy-lady habits, because that's how I know that I'm her mama - because I'm the woman who pauses on the street to stick my nose right into the heart of the rose, and inhales, whispering, l love you, my darling girl.
We're at the point where we are beginning to plan for all the things we'll need if Adzuki arrives safely. It feels ridiculously foolhardy to do these things - to accept gifts of second-hand baby baths, to go to a breastfeeding preparation class, to start moving furniture so we can fit a cot in our room. A voice in my head constantly harps, Don't you know what happened last time? What makes you think you'll be needing these things? And the truth is, we don't know. Nothing can guarantee that he will come home with us, living and breathing. But I also know now that if all the awful things conspired and he didn't come home, I would still love him and he'd still be our son. I won't kid myself that one grief fully prepares you for another, and I am still terrified of all the possibilities for things to go wrong. But being able to sit with those possibilities also enables me to let in the good possibilities, and to appreciate that right now things are wide open, that for now I get to feel every kick and try to be awake to it - to experience the aspects of the pregnancy that are similar to my pregnancy to Z, and also those which are completely different.
El Prima and I are getting impatient now - mid May feels so far away. And we know from Z that it could all happen much sooner than that. I'm trying to hold onto the realisation I had while looking at the clouds the other day - that even when it looks like nothing is moving, if you give it proper attention, you'll see the slow shift of things changing moment by moment.
to linger on hot coals: an interview with Catherine Bayly - *To Linger on Hot Coals* is a book of collected poems by babylost mothers. Edited by Stephanie Paige Cole and Catherine Bayly, it includes the writings o...
1 day ago