Daring to Dream

I wish I could shake this dreadful sense of foreboding and just enjoy these moments.  I don’t remember   being this ‘doom and gloom’ about either of my other pregnancies. Maybe it is because this time the medical professionals have continually reminded me of the complications that being over 40 can bring? No wonder I feel flipping ancient! Maybe because this time there are complications that could have disastrous implications (even though 1 in 4 women have Group B Strep and manage just fine).  Maybe because I feel like it would be karma for not wanting this in the beginning?  Maybe because I’ve been on such a rollercoaster that I need this to be worth it. Maybe because of how much I want this now and I’m scared it will be taken away from me, and then what would I do?

My friends threw a baby shower for me yesterday. It was lovely, they all went to so much trouble and I was truly spoilt with things for me and baby. But even as I opened the gifts of little pink shoes and little pink clothes, I couldn’t help but notice a feeling of detachment. Like they were lovely things but they weren’t for a real live baby. It’s weird, I can’t explain it. If they weren’t for a baby then what would they be for! 

When I got home (and after a long rest on the sofa) I started to look through all the lovely things I had been given by my generous friends. So many things. All beautiful too, there wasn’t anything I had to politely say thank you for whilst wondering how I could get away with baby never being seen in it! All lovely. And all a weird little omen. The voice in my head was all the time saying, “What on earth are you going to do with that lot when there’s no baby?”  There. I’ve said it. 

I feel deeply uncomfortable when people talk about the future – about when the baby is here. Because I can’t see her in my future.  I can see the midwives’ faces covered in sadness, and hear the tone in the doctor’s voice as he tells me the news. I can see me, distraught and unable to function, curled up under a duvet never wanting to come out. I can hear my screams. I can’t see a happy ending.

Why the hell not? Is it normal? Is it just one of those things that pregnant women feel towards the end but never say out loud? Or am I seriously screwed up? Because I’m not talking a fleeting fear, I mean that I cannot shake the conviction that there will not be another baby in our home.

If I wasn’t so practical and others hadn’t pushed me, I think I’d have waited until after she arrived to buy anything. But now I’ve got a houseful of things and a little pink bedroom, and I can’t stop myself from wondering what we will do about it all when…

It’s debilitating. I want to feel more than dread when I look at those things. I want to pick up the little dress and hold it close over my belly and smile as I imagine my little princess.  I want to see a future with this new beginning. But I dare not dream.

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2 thoughts on “Daring to Dream

  1. Of course, I have no pregnancy experience, so I cannot offer personal testimony, but I’d be willing to bet you’re not alone in your thoughts.

    In fact, I know of at least one story, a friend of mine. She and her boyfriend had been together since right after she graduated high school. They lived together for nearly ten years before they got married. Neither one wanted to have children. So, she was on the pill. All was going rather well until their wedding night.

    She had packed her pills in the luggage that had been sent along with whomever was picking them up from the hotel they were staying at after the reception. So, for one night, in the ten+ years they’d been together (and had, apparently a very healthy sexual life), the one night without a pill, she got pregnant.

    She was my boss at the time. She had been in her office, and I’d heard the phone ring. There was this gasp, a slamming of the phone, and she ran out the door in tears, barely able to say that she wouldn’t be back. Well, we all thought someone had died. She called in sick for the next several days.

    Finally, when she was back to work, she told me (and swore me to secrecy) that she was pregnant. She’d not told her husband, because she wasn’t sure she wanted to keep the baby. About ten days later, she told her husband, who ended up being rather delighted (which, of course was not helpful).

    For the entire time she was pregnant, I can’t tell you the number of times she cried on my shoulder about not wanting the baby, about only having it because her husband wanted it. In fact, the entire time she was pregnant, she never referred to it as a baby. She called it “It” or “This Thing”.

    Finally, the baby was born, and they named him, but for several weeks she couldn’t even say the baby’s name.

    I’ll never forget the email she sent me one afternoon. She’d been home alone with the baby. She was cranky, still unsure of motherhood, fearful she’d be horrible at it. The way she tells it “It was napping. I went into the room to check on it, to make sure it was okay. I stood there, watching it breathe, thinking all these depressing thoughts. Suddenly it opened its eyes, and looked right into my eyes and smiled. In that moment, in that smile, he was no longer an it. He was my son. His smile melted my heart, and made everything ok. His name is Spencer and he’s my son. Somehow his smile said ‘I know you’ll try your best, and it will be ok.’ I started crying. I picked him up, held him close, smelled the beautiful smell of a baby. I moved him, so I could look at his face again. Again he smiled. I have learned that there is magic in baby smiles.” (This is a direct quote from the email … I’ve saved it all these years, because it was so beautiful, and that it would be a great line in the novel that I’ve never written.

    But, I think that there are many women who struggle silently. Culturally, we are taught that motherhood is the greatest achievement of a woman. It is, in its way, a belief that puts a lot of pressure on a pregnant woman. It even pressures those who don’t have kids. A family friend (her mom and my mom were friends, and we’ve known each other about 40 years.) She married her high school sweetheart, and neither of them wanted children. She’s now 43 or 44, and she still gets treated strangely by other women when she says she never wanted children. Over the years she’s had women at work stop talking to her. We place a high value on motherhood. Perhaps it has to do with the primitive instinct of knowing that part of us will live on … I don’t know. But, I imagine that pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood — all on top of a career, is probably very stressful. And, I imagine that there are more women out there who struggle as well.

    I think it’s very admirable that you’re willing to be open about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow what a story! And thank you so much for your kind words. I can empathise with your old boss. Although we planned our first child, the depression made me feel very much like she did. I too had an epiphany over one moment with my daughter (although she was almost a year old before that happened sadly and I had a lot of ground to pick up). I started writing for myself – a bit of therapy to get the (sometimes destructive) thoughts out of my head. But if it helps others in the same position not to feel like they are the only ones, that’s an added bonus.

      Like

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