July of last year I could have been having a baby instead of finding that the baby I carried had Tri. 21. In October of 2011, I had tested and found to my great joy that I was pregnant. You see, I had wanted, felt intensely that we should have one more child after R. When I found out that was I finally expecting a baby, I was nothing but overjoyed. For a week, I felt like I was floating through life. There were names to debate with H (I was sure this baby was a boy). Day dreams about a baby to nurse and snuggle. Another life to bring into the beastie fold.
And then just as suddenly as it had happened, it was over.
All my plans mocked me. The tiny baby clothes I had started to slip out of storage lay abandoned. I could not bear to see them. Each day getting out of bed felt like the biggest chore. I slugged through meal making and child care. I gave the barest minimum and spent most of my days lying in bed sobbing as I nursed R. I wanted to be over the sadness. I told myself "Good god, woman, you were only a few weeks along. Snap out of it." My pain was a barrier that kept me from everyone, and I already felt horribly isolated here in Athens.
Finally there was a day when I didn't cry. And slowly, I walked out of the fog and back into life. The sadness was still there, and the mourning I suspect will never leave. A friend encourage me to name the baby, and even though I felt I didn't deserve this act, I did. It helped. The baby had a name, and I could carry him with me. I packed away the baby clothes.
One day, I realized we weren't going to have another baby, and I began to make plans to get rid of the clothes. I sobbed the day I sorted through them. But I felt like I was only wanting a baby because I felt loss in life. I wasn't sure what my future plans would be. I felt kind of aimless. Having a baby would give me something to do. A purpose. Or so I thought. That was a shitty reason to have a baby.
And then I found out I was pregnant. Again. I must have took a dozen tests over a two week period. Over time, I began to hope just a little that this one would stick. I never let go of the fear though. Every morning, my first thought was "Is the baby still there?" Every twinge, every odd feeling lead to hours of worry, Google searches, and lots of anxiety. But despite myself I began to dream for this baby. I started to pull out the little sleepers, and make wish lists on Amazon. Eventually we started to choose names. Phoebe for a girl. Leon (Leo) for a boy.
Then I got the call that put a minor road bump in all those dreams. What I don't often tell people about that call was that our risk for Tri 18 was also high, and it was ultimately why we decided to get the amino. We were fairly sure we'd terminate for that disorder although not for Tri. 21. I can't tell you how hard this time was between that call and the long weeks until the amino. I had finally allowed myself to open up to the joy of this baby and now I was facing losing he/she. I cried a lot during those long hot summer days even as I tried to bury myself in things to make me forget. But it was impossible to ignore those first small stirrings. The starting swell to my belly.
At some point, the stirrings stopped or at least I couldn't feel them. I convinced myself that the baby was dead. It was even more horrible than the first time. I cried and cried. I no longer cared if this baby had a trisomy. I just wanted the baby to be alive. All that matter was that she was alive. I started to hope she had Down syndrome because that was the surest condition to guarantee her life. But deep down I felt like she was already dead. I just knew that when they ran that wand over my belly there would be no movement, no heartbeat.
So of course I started making deals with the supernatural.
When they ran the wand over my belly, and I saw that baby (a girl they said) rolling around, kicking her little feet, waving her arms about, I started to sob. The tech was pretty disgusted but I didn't care. Jude was alive. That was the shift for me. Jude being alive was by far more important than an extra chromosome. It was the beginning of a thought journey that would eventually lead to where I am now. Jude was alive, you see, and that meant day dreams, amazon wish lists, and little kicks to keep me awake at night. While I still had a way to go in my acceptance that she was going to be just fucking fine, I was beginning because I had lost once before. The pain of that lost, the absence of that presence will always be with me. The thought of there being two such losses was unbearable. I could live with an extra chromosome, and while I could of course live with the pain of two losses, I knew which scenario I'd prefer.
You see Jude is special to me not because of her extra bit. She's special because she's here. In my arms, in our family. When I say she's just another beastie that's what I mean. She is another being to add to this wonderful family. Our last child. Our full circle. She made it, and I don't give a shit what she brought along with her. It doesn't change any of the dreams I had while gestating her. She will of course not follow my dreams. She'll follow her own just like the other beasties. But it doesn't matter. The dreams are just ways of opening up for the presence of another in our lives.