Thursday, March 27, 2008

wherein I come clean, come out, fess up, and spill my guts

"Do you think you know more than other people?"

I just finished telling her why I was freaked out following our perfect anatomical scan ultrasound with A, and this was Nurse Kind's question in response. I hesitated for a second. At that particular moment I really didn't want it to be true. Not to mention that it would probably get me a this one is coo-coo label on my chart. So I said "No. But I will probably be the most neurotic patient you have ever had from now on." "Neurotic is ok. We can handle neurotic" answered she.

I didn't want it to be true. I wanted to be just another neurotic pregnant woman. Since A's death, though, I have thought back to that conversation with a bit of regret. It didn't change anything, so I should've just said it, owned it. The thing is, I do. I do know more than other people. Or I did.

There, I said it. I won't bore you with the stories of the other times I knew things, or the things I can do. Not relevant. Let me just tell you about the childbearing related stuff.


My mother was the older of two daughters. So am I. For some reason, from very early on, I have thought that I would have two daughters too. At some point in my early adulthood I realized I wanted three children. JD is an only child, and at the time he was fine with one (I feel it would be relevant to note that this lasted exactly until Monkey was born), but was not opposed to more. What I told JD I saw when I thought about us as a family was that the older two would be girls, and that I had no information on the younger one. That was almost what I saw. There was in fact haziness in what I saw, and I chose to interpret it as above. But to be perfectly honest what I did see was the two girls and some haze around them. I chose to believe that the haze hid the identity of my youngest child. I can't discount the possibility now that it also hid my second-born.


The start of Monkey's pregnancy was rocky. The miscarriage was only two months before, and we had no idea whether the progesterone falling in the miscarried pregnancy was due to the pregnancy being doomed (hCG wasn't doubling properly either, although we did make it to the heartbeat ultrasound, only to miscarry the next day) or due to my progesterone defect. Early blood tests in the new pregnancy showed nicely rising and doubling hCG, but progesterone started falling again. I needed suppositories. It was the 4th of July weekend. I didn't know it when I raced out of my apartment to try to fill the script, but because of who the script was written by, I could only fill it at the campus health center pharmacy. Which, say it with me, was closed for the long weekend. Driving back from the regular city pharmacy where they explained to me that they can't fill the script, traffic was miserable, people were doing stupid things in front of me on the four way Stop sign intersection, and I was on edge. Suddenly, I heard her. Clear as a bell in my head. "I will be ok. And, by the way, I am a girl."

I made it through the next couple of days to when the pharmacy opened, and the next blood test showed us catching the progesterone levels before they hit the floor entirely. There were scary parts to that pregnancy afterwards too. There was a cramping episode that reminded me of the feeling the day before I miscarried. There was brown spotting at 14+ weeks. And then there was red, bright red flow. In the mall restroom, the day after my thesis defence. Placenta previa, partial, as it turned out later. At 31 weeks 1 day. By which point we already knew she was a girl. That first ride to the hospital was very scary, but the bleeding stopped quickly, and from then on I was fairly sure she would be ok.


Finding a name for Monkey was very hard going. We had a set of conditions that were very hard to satisfy, and for a long time we worried that we wouldn't find the name that fit all of them. At some point, JD suggested a name that shared the first letter with his grandmother's name, and thus would honor her, as a middle name. I liked it too much. I said let's not. That will be our second daughter's first name. We had a middle name to go with it too, but we changed it after the first ultrasound with A, when we still thought he was her.


I think I have actually admitted before to knowing we would conceive A right after we did. I then spent the next seventeen weeks convincing myself it was a girl. Because see, if it was a girl, I could believe she would make it. But something wasn't exactly right. As I recently told my sister, in response I stuck my fingers in my ears and went la-la-la-la. I needed that baby to be a girl. A girl would live.

We took Monkey to the anatomical scan. She wanted to see the baby, but she really wanted to know whether it was a sister or a brother. She wanted a sister, and was honest about it. Before that day we talked about what if it's a boy? Well, then he will be our baby, your brother.

They needed to measure the vital organs first. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Are you ready to find out the sex? Yes, yes we are. It took her a bit to find the anatomy, and in that gap I knew. I desperately needed her to say it was a girl, and I knew she wasn't going to. And she didn't.

Monkey was all about honesty. "I wanted them to say 'girl.'" I know, honey, I know. That lasted all of twenty seconds, I think. "That's my brother!" said the proud big sister pointing at the screen, obviously working hard to pick the right English words and put them in the correct order. Her mother, however, was not so easy to sooth. Holding JD's hand, with my stomach many feet below me, I said "I don't see this ending well."


And this brings us back to Nurse Kind and her question. I told her about the ultrasound, and I told her I was afraid. And she asked me that question. I will be your most neurotic patient ever, I promised. I just don't have the belief, the surety that this will work out. She also asked what my biggest fear was, and I said preeclampsia. I was at the edge of the age difference between the pregnancies that increases the odds for it, and for some reason that was what I thought would do us in. A failure of the imagination, clearly.

A few of my IRL friends knew of my premonition, and to them I talked about my new fears. One of them, Irene, the friend who was four weeks behind me in her pregnancy, said look, you will have your second daughter, she will just be your youngest child. Irene knew I wanted three. She also later confessed to thinking this was all hormones. I am grateful for that line, though. This is what I eventually used to calm myself down, to talk myself into thinking it was going to be ok.

Not that I was serene and assured or anything. In the next month my blood pressure jumped, not dramatically, but noticeably. I felt like shit. Here it comes, thought I. JD bought me a monitor, and I watched the blood pressure like a hawk. I worried so much, Dr.Best ordered a 24 hour urine collection on me even though he didn't think I was going preeclamtic. I still worried. But by 34 weeks even I had to admit it didn't look that scary anymore. If he came then, we would be looking at a couple of weeks in the NICU, but the chance that he wouldn't make it was minuscule. Like I said, failure of imagination.


We had a great deal of trouble finding a name for A as well. The night of the day A died, I was sitting on the couch trying to do my kick counts, which never came. But while I was at it, we talked about names and some other stuff. JD started to suggest a middle name in honor of his grandfather, the same grandfather our next girl's middle name is supposed to honor. He said after the way this pregnancy was going, he wasn't sure we would be up for another one ever. So I spilled it. Look, I said. I know that girl. In fact in this pregnancy she has been more real to me than the boy we are having. We can't not do this again.

Later that night, in the hospital room, I told JD that maybe that is why I knew that girl so well-- to know that we have to survive this, to know that one day she will come.


I tried to not get attached to A. For a long time there I didn't think we were going to get to keep him. And if that was the case, I needed to protect myself. Fat lot of good it did me. Not until after he died did I know how much I loved him, really. I had glimpses before. But the full knowledge only came with grief, was only illuminated by it.

Thinking about that I decided that "next time" I would give my heart without apprehension. Not right away, of course, for I told myself I was no fool. My biggest fear in the early days was one of those not really early miscarriages, the 10-13 week one. The mindfuck of oh, I am sorry, were you starting to believe things would work out this time?, the feeling of so much wasted time.

When I did get pregnant this time, I found myself doing the denial thing much more than I anticipated. And yet, it is cracking, my ice queen facade. I am starting to live up to the name of my blog. And it is a scary, scary thing to let myself do. And yet, since experience shows that for me the other option is futile, I am letting myself do it. Not necessarily hope, but love. Anyway. Either way.


I went into this pregnancy not wanting to know more than other people know. So I did my best to shut it down-- I can do that too to some extent. Not knowing has been hard. I think I heard her once. But I don't know whether it was from within this time, or from without, like with A. I don't know whether it's finally her.

Tomorrow we may find out the sex. It's no guarantee, of course. A girl may not make it either. A boy might make it anyway, and prove me wrong. But I do think I would feel better if it was a girl. Ok, understatement of the year. I may freak out if it is a boy. And that is exactly why I am finally telling you this-- so that I don't look like a complete ungrateful bitch if I do freak out about the sex. I hope if it's a girl, I will feel more secure. And even if I don't, at the very least the name thing will be in the bag, and in this household that is noting to sneeze at.


Two things left to say. One, early on when I thought back to that question from Nurse Kind, and I answered it in my mind with evermore firm "Yes, yes I do," I tended to add "I wish I didn't." I don't think I think that anymore. I watch so many bereaved parents struggle with guilt, and it makes me so very sad for them. I have none of it, and this is still so freaking hard that I can't help thinking they must have it so much worse. To be fair, there are probably multiple reasons for my lack of guilt (like the autopsy results, for example, or the fact that I was that paranoid in that pregnancy). But I can't discount this one too-- I couldn't make him stay. He wasn't staying, and I know it now.

This takes me nicely to the philosophical point two. Nothing I said here makes what happened meant to be, part of the plan, for the better, for a reason, or something I needed. Seeing something coming doesn't make it a good thing, a necessary thing, or even a pre-planned thing. What I know now is that A wasn't staying. But observing a phenomena doesn't make it happen, and seeing it before others do doesn't prove its origins. Oh, and by the way, knowing it didn't cause it either. I promise.


I am going to go to sleep now, and hope that I didn't just become "that weirdo" for you. I know what I say sounds crazy. Why do you think I put off writing this for almost a year? I have a PhD in hard science for crying out loud, so what business do I have writing this at all? The thing is, though, I still know what I know. And tomorrow we may know a little more.


Anonymous said...

It can be so hard to know. You explained it very well. Thank you so much for sharing. Love to you.

niobe said...

It doesn't sound crazy to me.

I *knew* the twins weren't going to make it. That's why, after a perfect 12-week scan, I started asking the nurse about how many babies she'd seen that had died during the 2nd trimester. That's why I threw out every ultrasound picture on the way out of the doctor's office. That's why I refused to accept any of the baby presents my mother bought for me and made her give them to my pregnant SIL. And, because I never really got attached to them, that's why the twins' deaths weren't nearly as difficult for me as they might have been.

Sincce I felt sure from the beginning that I wouldn't be able to keep them, I never got to the stage of actually loving them. Which is, of course, not necessarily the case for other people. For example, for you.

Mandy said...

Not crazy or weird at all.

The two babies I lost felt completely different to me for the short time I carried them. With my daughter, I had a dream she would be a girl and I knew she'd be ok.

With my son, I woke up 7dpIUI and knew two things. I was pregnant, and my progesterone was dangerously low. I'm ever grateful my RE's office didn't treat me like I was insane when I called and told them that. They supplemented me right away, and blood results showed my progesterone was in fact very very low despite KNOWING I'd ovulated.

I had dreams of both of my children before I was ever even married, but I had dreams of my lost babies too...and while I knew, I always hoped I'd be wrong.

Knowing doesn't make it easier, doesn't ease the pain and absolutely doesn't mean it feels meant to be.

I'm praying for you and your little, and hope this time all is well.

Beruriah said...

You know I know you're not crazy. And you know why. I am so anxious to hear the results of today's U/S. And as always, I'm thinking of you. Much much love to you all.

Cobblestone said...

I knew things that ended in my widowhood, it's not easy to know.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Not crazy.

I'll be refreshing all day, with my fingers crossed for you.

Anonymous said...

This is not crazy, just beautifully honest and vulnerable. I too have *known* the things related to my pregnancies.

The odd thing is, with my 3rd (and last) pregnancy, I knew before conception it was a girl. I'd felt that I'd always know and was just waiting for her. Fro the first instant I'd day dream all day about her and it was clear as day that she was a girl. It wasn't that I really wanted a girl for any reason, I already had a boy and a girl, I just felt that I knew. I'd always expected 2 girls and a boy. Just once, at 3 months, I had a dream where I took the baby out of my tummy "for a visit". It was a boy. I just laughed it off. At my 5 month ultrasound, they told me it was a boy. I felt deflated. I felt something was really, really wrong. I just couldn't find a way to wrap my mind around it. One day in the shower, a feeling washed over me and I knew
that everything would be alright no matter what the outcome. The happy ending is that everything is alright and I know have a healthy 6month old boy. But, I am still sometimes haunted by the discrepancy in what I *knew*.

I only share this to say that whatever you find out, it can be ok. For some reason today, your post brought tears to my eyes. I believe you will be ok. I wanted you to know that. Thank you for sharing this.


Tash said...

I had the same soggy feeling. Maybe it was the episodic gushes of blood from 6-18w. Or the repeated ultrasounds where i kept thinking, "maybe next time, I'll see you in real life." Or my "I wonder if this will be the other shoe dropping" comment to my husband while patting my stomach. I didn't set up a crib, or a room, or hardly any clothing. I didn't nest, I denied. I often wonder if this was some evolutionary thing, trying to prepare me for what lay ahead, and how much worse it could've been (can I imagine worse than shock?) if I hadn't had steeled myself for 40w already.

Should I find myself in your shoes, I will be torn between wanting another daughter to have the family I thought I would have, or thinking another daughter would certainly die and a boy would make for less stress and comparisons in my head. So I get this. And I don't blame you, even though I know in the end what we all want is the same: a life child.

I envy your ability not to fear love, Julia. I cower in the corner and cannot bear to face it. I'll be thinking of you today.

Amelie said...

Wow. That's a long story for one post. I don't think you're weird for knowing, but I cannot remember knowing this way (at least not consciously), and I'm not sure I envy you for that.
Thinking of you.

christina(apronstrings) said...

i do feel like we know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. i believe in inner voices.
when my mom married my step-dad, i was only four. but i knew she was making a huge mistake that would lead to our suffering a lot, and for a long time. i also knew that no one would listen to a four year old. and it wasn't because i wanted my parents to get back together-because i had never met my father.
but, i also think that you've gone through a lot and that that may add a voice that isn't truly yours to the chorus.
i want a girl for you if it will make you feel better or more at peace.
i want a girl too. ; )
also, i am sure that it was difficult to come up with a name like monkey. hee, hee.

c. said...

I don't know if I knew at the time necessarily, but when I look back now I sort of feel like I did. I felt that I would never get him...and I didn't. I'm not sure if this is just something my mind has created in the aftermath. I don't think it's strange or odd that you knew.

As for the disappointment you may feel today, I get that, too. I'm not even at your stage yet and I grapple with wanting a boy to replace the one I lost or a girl, a sister for my dd, that I wanted in the first place. Not to mention having a girl would make things feel less, I don't know, the same. It's so hard, Julia.

I will be thinking of you ALL day. Good luck today. I guess, in a way, I really do hope you know things...

Snickollet said...

I love this post. It's so beautiful and honest.

Before John and I got married, I had these nagging feelings that the bubble was going to burst, that no one could be happy the way I was forever. At about the same time, I read a story about a woman who lost her husband to cancer and was trying, after his death, to have their baby via IVF. I thought it was the saddest thing I'd ever read, and I could not imagine being as brave as she was, to go ahead and have that baby even though her husband was gone.

And now, well, now here I am.

But this is about you. My heart is with you.

serenity said...

not crazy at all.

fingers crossed for you today...


Ahuva Batya said...

Thank you for sharing so much of your heart with us; it was truly moving. YOu are not crazy; there is far more to this world than can be seen or understood. This post was really a piece of you and powerful to read.

kate said...

It is not crazy...there are many things that cannot be explained by science. I wish i knew this sort of stuff...i have no intuition in these matters.

Thinking of you today, and awaiting u/s news...

Cindy said...

I remember so clearly when I was pregnant with my second, all of my happy friends/family would say, "How are you feeling?!" and I would answer without fail, "Worried". Everyone thought I was crazy because there was no indication anyting was wrong. One day I sat in my backyard contemplating my fruit trees, thinking that by the time the pears arrived I'd have a newborn. Except, I could NOT picture it. Me, newborn, image, no feeling. And then I knew. And I starting grieving, I think, before there were any official indications that I would lose him. It almost made the actual day of loss easier...or at least, less of a shock.

Thanks for sharing and thereby validating the feelings of so many others. Thoughts are with you on this day.

Beth said...

Some things in this world we are given to know. So many things Ive known ... some I wished I didn't, other times I was grateful.

With my third child who lived I knew -- absolutely knew -- that I'd miscarry if they didn't test my progesterone again. 'But your levels are fine ... they're fine ... they're fine ... OMG your levels bottomed out: you Must begin taking supplements Today.'

Well, duh.

Thinking of you today, as ever.

Janis said...

No, you're not crazy. And I am SO glad you wrote this beautiful piece, even though it made me cry. Holding you in my thoughts and waiting for the results... ((hugs))

Karen said...

you sound like me. Sometimes I know things to. I find it profoundly unhelpful, being proved right later does nothing for my ego and I often look for the off-switch of this strange sensory gift/querk of mine.

Magpie said...

Not crazy, but rather very self-aware.

I hope today goes well.

The Town Criers said...

It actually doesn't sound crazy at all. And I'm just sending good thoughts for the ultrasound.

Bon said...

not crazy at all.

i was so sure both my sons were girls. with O in particular, i desperately needed him to be a girl, and i was sure that all would go wrong again because he was not...because i was meant to have girls and had been sure of this since i was four.

and yet, all has been okay with him. and i hope, either way, so much of the same for you, all the while saying "i understand."

~Denise~ said...

Thank you for sharing you experiences.

Much love to you.

CLC said...

I don't think it's crazy at all. I always had a bad feeling about my pregnancy even though I was never sick. I just couldn't envision myself with the baby, so I never really believed I would have her. I never bought baby furniture, clothes or anything. Well actually I bought one takehome outfit, and that's what we buried her in. I never actually thought I would be right in a million years, but now looking back, it's like I knew all along.

Coggy said...

I have a PhD in hard science too, but I believe it. I was convinced I wouldn't get to keep Jacob. I didn't know what I meant by that feeling at the time. I didn't expect what happened, I would just get very panicked that something was wrong and he would never be mine. I just knew. It made me feel physically sick when people tried to buy things for him.

I also knew even when we were you know 'in the act' that I would get pregnant that time with him. It was the most oddest realization. Likewise I knew I was having a boy.

I know far too much now too and the problem is it is all too much part of my nature to go research what I don't know until I do understand it, which is a blessing in disguise. I find it very hard to quiet my mind with the things I now know.

meg said...

None of it sounds crazy. Good luck today at the U/S. Thinking of your lots.

wannabe mom said...

i didn't have any intuition with the twins not making it nor that they were girls. i got attached, and fast. i have intuition about other things, like calling my mom when she's just about to call me.

i don't know if this pg (i just reread that and i mean mine, not yours!) is going to make it either, but acting on what i now know makes me feel more secure and not naive like before.

beautiful post. i hope the u/s goes well. lots of hugs.

Antigone said...

I wish I could have any amount of certainty about pregnancy. Luckily my pessimism has offered me some protection from my several losses.

Lisa b said...

I also felt I knew something was wrong with my daughter and I was right. I'm a science teacher so I keep correcting myself to think I worried something was wrong, but really I knew. Right from the beginning.

I hope you had a good night's sleep and some good news today.

LAS said...

This doesn't sound the least bit weird to me. I completely understand what you mean when you talk about knowing something - it's just a different topic. There are things that I know, that haven't happened, but that will. How do I know? Because I know. It scares me - I don't talk about what I know because it isn't good and it scares me too much and I am afraid if I say it, it will somehow become real.

Julia said...

Thank you all, so very much for your kindness and for sharing your intimate stories in response. It's a relief, and it's an honor. Thank you.

Christina! I laughed out loud at that last bit. But I am still going to have to get you for it later.

zarqa said...

Not crazy at all.
That second philosophical point rings and rings. I never knew anything when I lost my son at 34 weeks. And I know nothing now. Oh, I know the science better. And it's the science that I clunge to when I got pregnant again. Not love and certainly not faith.
See for me, believing that I "knew" would make me too crazy and would mean, to me, that there is something supernatural about it all. And, in my mind, if there was something supernatural and intuitive about it all, then babies wouldn't die, would they? Such is the state of my faith after my loss. I wish someone would convincingly argue me out of it. That you managed to keep more of your faith and trust and love in enviable.

Lori said...

Oh, Julia. I love that you shared this. Every word of it rings with truth and love, not craziness.

The first words I said to my husband when he arrived at the hospital were, "I knew they weren't ours to keep." I had never said anything like that before, and I didn't even prepare to say it then- it just came out. In that moment I knew, and I realized I had known it all along. But like you said, there are all kinds of "knowing" and that doesn't make me psychic or our lives pre-destined. It just was, and is.

Anne said...

Long-time lurker here, wanting you to know how much your post moved me. You are loved, respected, prayed for, thought of, and admired for the ability to put all of this out there. Thank you for your honesty, you so-not-crazy lady. You're not "that" lady - you're a human being who possesses both intelligence and emotion. Sometimes it's hard to juggle the two but I'm praying you continue to do just that. Love to you and the family...all of you.

dorothy said...

A friend of mine posesses this prophetic gift as well--really "knowing" when things will be ok or not. I do not have this gift at all--I had no physical or "other" signs to show that L. was in distress or had died.

Having been in the science world for so long, the thought that science--or anything or anyone for that matter--couldn't save my baby's life was devistating.

After a year, I am in a new place; new understanding...and open to the unseeing side of our lives. I now know that i still do not have any sense of what may happen, but I at least feel more "aware" of that fact--and it's remarkably reassuring (most of the time). :)

Thank you for this post--it brought me more peace--and I hope some relief to you.