Last week, we had our twenty week scan. Everything looked normal, as we knew it would: Benjamin looked entirely normal at twenty weeks. That didn’t stop me rushing home and googling the baby’s head circumference until I found a graph that put it on the 60th percentile. That’s got to be good, right?
So now we are into that no-man’s-land, the period between 20 and 38 weeks during which we know something happened in Benjamin’s brain (or rather, something didn’t happen that should have). Within eighteen weeks we will know whether to expect a healthy baby, or no baby at all.
I’ve tried to avoid all the ‘pregnancy propaganda.’ I haven’t signed up to any of the weekly emails telling me “your baby is now the size of a butternut squash;” “this week you should be choosing wallpaper for the nursery;” but I am still bombarded with unbearably positive images of pregnancy. At my weekly pilates class we are encouraged to “hug our abdominal muscles around our baby.” The midwife gives me leaflets about breastfeeding, talking to the bump, singing to it even, getting to know the baby before it is born. And why shouldn’t she? Not many women are placed in the no-man’s-land. You either can’t wait to meet your baby, or you do something about it pretty damn quick.
Contradiction is my constant companion. Cognitive dissonance, if you will. It is increasingly obvious that I am pregnant; still I spend my energy trying to ignore the fact. I know that there is every chance this is a healthy baby; I fear what will have to happen if it isn’t. I love my son dearly, I believe that he is happy and that his life has value; but I cannot receive another like him into my family. I grieve with friends who have lost children; yet I know that if my own child doesn’t make it, it will be my own doing and I will have no right to grieve.
And so, as my energy slowly returns, I try to fill my time, to distract myself from this mental tug-of-war. Not with choosing baby names, sorting tiny vests, writing a birth plan. With working and researching and writing angry letters to the council about school transport. With coffee mornings and playdates and planning Halloween costumes and ripping weeds out of the garden. But then something will happen to stop me in my tracks. I cannot end this post without reference to a dear lady, who was good enough to reach out to me when I first started to share my hopes and fears for this pregnancy. She was also pregnant, with near-enough the same due date as me. Today she learned that she has lost her baby.
It’s illogical, of course. I am tired and shocked and hormonal and alone. But I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign: a message that life is fragile, and precious? Some days, perhaps I feel the baby kicking, I am filled with love and wonder and hope for this new life. Others, like today, it is as if I am stuck on a hurtling freight train, moving inexorably towards an abortion, and I cannot get off. All my motherly instincts are beating at the doors but I Can’t. Get. Off.