"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Shopping for my ghost-baby

I don't know if this was torturing myself, but I got the idea in my head that I would buy some Christmas things to donate to the giving tree at work.  The instructions said to label the gifts with the age and (if appropriate) gender of the child the gift would be suitable for.  Here, let me imagine a hypothetical child who I wish I was buying a Christmas gift for.  She's about to turn two, and apart from her curly dark brown hair, that's all I know about her.  I'm not sure I can successfully combine my grief for Z, my desperate hankering for her to be here, with the altruism that Christmas giving really requires.  All the same, at least this way of remembering her, of showing my love for her, has some benefit for a child who needs it.  Yet it spikes my heart that a living child will get to use these things while Z never will.
The girls helped me pick out two things - a little navy and white striped summer playsuit and a fisher price pull-along telephone - ubiquitous toy of doctors waiting rooms and kinders.  I was amazed they are still making them.  Yay nostalgia.  Buying things was hard.  Leaving them there under the Christmas tree was harder.  It still shocks me that this happened to us, that I have a daughter, but she died.  I can't manage to pat this grief into any kind of shape today. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Don't mention the bump

I'm still here, but have gone quiet for a bit.  It is so hard to capture everything going on at the moment.  I'm at that funny stage where some people will look pointedly at my middle and say, "Are you....?" and I'll have to confess, Yes, Pregnant, while others are still surprised when I tell them.  Either way, there is a lot of telling going on, because being the blathermouth that I am, I'm not likely to leave things unexplained or unelaborated.  And yet, it all feels so awkward, because so often there is a great yawning gap between their and my understandings of what all this pregnancy business means.  For me, this is not a easy topic about happy future plans and discussion of baby products, it is a hot ball of molten lava which is both an amazing, miraculous thing and a very dangerous and unpredictable substance.  I need to put on the fireman's gloves for that.  It is here, on the newsy surface of things which people feel happy talking about, whether they know me or not and yet it is chained directly to my heart, so that even just telling people I am pregnant feels like an intimate exposure. 

For people who don't know our story, this inevitably leds into variations of the question "Is this your first baby?".  I'm getting better at getting the words out.  No, our first daughter died...  car accident ... eight months pregnant.  And now that I've said it so many times, I can almost roll it out easily and move on with the conversation - out of self-preservation rather than callowness.  They usually apologise - this was not the territory they were meaning to steer us into.  So I need to sum it up so that we can move back to safe territory - "It's okay.  It just meant that getting pregnant again was a Really Big Thing.  Extra precious."  Which doesn't really even begin to sum it up, but that's the best I can do for chit chat. 

For friends and family who know the back-story, many have surprised us with the genuine intensity of their joy for us.  It feels like a gift in itself, but I can't quite meet them on that optimistic territory - I just stand there smiling nervously and saying, "Yes, fingers crossed". And I think for a second - am I actually pregnant?  Or have I just made a silly mistake?  And I have to prod my belly surrepticiously, feeling for that taut roundness of womb. 

Because, as amazing as it is to be pregnant again and to be feeling those first flutters, I have no illusions that this is a done deal.  Knowing how many things could still go wrong (and have gone wrong for other babies I know of) makes it all the more precious.  That bit is true, even if a small corny word doesn't capture the tenderness of it.  But there's still a part of me that wants to save the celebrations until this chicken is well and truly hatched.

Zainab would nearly be two by now.  Most of the babies who were belly-side with her are now speaking, playing games, running on sturdy small feet and learning to crack tantrums.  Our street is lush with roses at the moment.  I lean right in to smell them, crush the petals to my lips and talk quietly to my baby daughter.  Her star has reappeared, now in a different part of the sky.  The ritual of missing her is built into my life now - I stand at the dresser and consult her serious sleeping baby face on which brooch to wear, which earrings.  When things are hard, I sigh "Oh Khallila" for her comisserations.

So many cues are interwoven with the missing of her.  Wind in the gum tops makes me picture her as snugglepot and cuddlepie bush baby, learning to sing magpie warbles.  The startling orange-red of pomegranate flowers against grass green leaves - those are the colours I wear for her.  Poems, comic topiary, haloumi cheese, earrings - my link to her is cobbled together from so many little things.  Even the little time I hive away for writing or art - this is a part of my life she reawakened in her short path through it.  And every bit of being pregnant reminds me of her - suddenly I can recognise myself again as the mother-body who housed her.  I'm becoming familiar with this mosaic-daughter, pieced together from so many small reminders and memorial acts.  But I still hanker for her wholeness, and the thought of her dark-haired small form moving and making noise. 
Image from here.