Have you ever noticed that once you buy something, you see it everywhere? My parents bought a Toyota Highlander a few years ago. I never noticed them before, but once we had one, I saw Highlanders everywhere. Likewise, once I made plans to travel to Ireland this summer, I began noticing news articles about the country, products that were manufactured there, celebrities who were born there. I noticed Highlanders and Ireland because I had a reason to see them everywhere.
It was the same with my pregnancy. Once I had been only vaguely aware of things like diapers and Dreft. Now, the world seemed to be full of babies and pregnant women. They were everywhere – in movies, in magazines, and on TV. I like to watch “The Office” on NBC. It’s not as funny as it used to be, but by now I have a vested interest in the characters, so I keep watching. The season finale last year ended with Jim and Pam finding out they were expecting a baby.
Jim’s reaction just killed me. It broke my heart, too. It must be nice, I thought, to be expecting a baby with a man you love who loves you. A man who, while panicked out and nervous, is ultimately excited. And plans on marrying you in any case. I cried.
From my journal: "I will never know that. I feel it deep down. Let's face it. It's not like I date or anything. It's not like I'm ever really going to get the chance for that kind of happiness ... It would be nice, wouldn't it? To not have any of these complications I've endured with H. To have people excited for you, happy for you, buying you presents, sending you cards, asking happy excited questions instead of being disappointed in you ... to go to childbirth classes with your baby's other parent, to know he'll be there the whole time with you ... I know what I could have, how much better things could be - should be - and it hurts me. It kills me. And I worry so much, and I worry about after she’s born - I am going to worry about every little thing, I just know it. And it would be so nice to have someone to share the worry with ..."
I was exhausted all the time. Pregnancy and fibromyalgia were a formidable combination, and I couldn’t imagine how much more miserable and exhausted I’d be in a month. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of my sweet baby girl – knowing that it was all for her, for her safety and health and comfort. I couldn’t believe how quickly time was passing me by. My due date was nearer and nearer but I didn’t feel any nearer to a decision.
I missed my father terribly. I wondered, not for the first time, if I wanted to keep my baby to fill the emptiness created by my father’s death. There were, I reasoned, worse reasons to have a baby. And I already loved her so much! But I worried. A baby, I thought, I can handle. But babies don’t stay little forever. Before I knew it I’d have a toddler, a small child, an elementary-schooler. Could I handle that? What would my life be like? What would hers be like?
I’d always wanted to have my children close in age as well – preferably with the same father as well, but that couldn’t be helped now. But this baby might be all I got. I wondered if I could be happy with that – just me and my little girl. I hoped so, because I had pretty much given up on men in general. "They are stupid, selfish jerks who expect too much and don't think they should have to do anything in return," I wrote in my journal.
Again and again I considered the idea of adoption. But I didn’t think I could bear to give my baby up. I knew it made me horribly selfish, but, I thought, okay. I’m selfish. Plenty of selfish people become moms, and things work out okay for them. Surely, I thought, my selfishness would be balanced out by the good it would do my baby to have her with me. She knew my voice, my heartbeat. Any child of mine would be decidedly quirky. I could help her with her quirks and love her anyway.
I finished my childbirth classes. I was a bit nervous about that. In my mind, once I finished childbirth classes I’d feel much more confident about labor and delivery. I didn’t. I knew I’d get through it somehow, but I didn’t like to think about it. Part of that, I think, is that I knew that once my baby was born, I’d have to decide what to do with her, and the thought of making a decision terrified me.
My little girl would be worth the worry and stress, I thought. We discussed newborn care during the last class, and there was a poster of a funny-looking little newborn, all mottled skin and clenched fingers and toes and squishy face and too-big head. Absolutely adorable, as were the newborns in the labor videos we watched. I wrote:
"The newborns at the end were so precious. So sweet. All wrinkly and funny-looking and wide-eyed and bewildered. They just killed me. And I thought, wow. Six weeks and I'm going to have my own precious little bundle of squishy sweetness who needs me, who has kicky feet and a teeny-tiny chin and a wee nose and pretty lips and long fingers and fat toes. My very own little funny-looking newborn with red spots and bendy legs and puffy eyes. Perfection."
I was nervous and excited and I absolutely could not bear the thought of placing my baby. I recalled all too clearly the kind of pain I’d felt when my dad died. I didn’t think I could bear it again. I wished I could just keep her in my belly forever. She was happy and safe and warm and well-fed in there, easy to care for and carry and keep safe. I'd gotten used to being pregnant, and I liked having my little girl with me wherever I went.