It’s hard to know where to start with this one. I have so many regrets about the medical management of the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I have been assured there were no indications of the problem in the placenta: Isobel was growing on track, her heartbeat was good, her movements were strong. Still I regret that no one noticed anything was wrong and I regret that she was not born pink and screaming before the placenta stopped functioning and starved her of oxygen. I regret that I didn’t savour every second of her life. I wished away the end of my pregnancy, too excited and impatient to meet my baby to appreciate the privilege of being hugely pregnant. I regret that my last post on Facebook before Isobel was born was me complaining about how long the last month of pregnancy felt. I didn’t know that pregnancy was all I was going to get with her. I would gladly be nine months pregnant for the rest of my life if it could keep her here.
Triggers are everywhere. I no longer go anywhere without waterproof mascara and a packet of tissues. I can spot a pregnant woman at a mile off. Sometimes I’m convinced someone is pregnant and when I get closer they are clearly not. I recently spent a large portion of a Broadway show trying to decide if one of the actors was pregnant or not. It seemed very important that I know either way. I wait for pregnancy announcements from friends, sure that if someone wants to tell me something it’s that they are pregnant. I watch to see if they are really drinking or just pretending, or if they are avoiding eating certain things. It’s not that I don’t want them to be pregnant, I just need to know.
Then there are babies. We moved to our area when I was pregnant as it is quiet and near a nature area with a river and a towpath. When I walk alone I pass pram after pram. I have shed many a tear along the path, missing the weight of the pram I should be pushing. Once I went for a walk and then went for lunch nearby. I saw 26 babies that day. One morning last week I heard a baby crying outside my bedroom window. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or not and wouldn’t have been all that surprised if I was. Baby girls are particularly difficult, as is seeing a mother and daughter. Children of any age can be triggers but they don’t quite impact me in the same way as babies. I don’t know if this will change as time goes on and it will be more children of the age Isobel should be. People jokingly complaining about their children or ‘liking’ articles on Facebook about the challenges of being a new mum is hard too. It seems like it’s impossible to watch TV or a movie without a pregnancy, baby, baby loss or child loss storyline. I left the cinema in tears on my first attempt at going to see a movie because of an infertility storyline. Reproduction is everywhere!
Everything that reminds me of my pregnancy with Isobel is a trigger. Places we went when I was pregnant, clothes I wore, things I liked to eat, music I used to sing along to in the car, series we watched on TV. Some places have a stronger connection with her death, the place I had lunch the day we found out there was no heartbeat and of course the maternity hospital itself is one of the hardest places in the world to go as it has the tripartite of triggers: memories, pregnant women and babies. Even my house is full of memories. When I go to the bathroom I’m reminded of all the millions of times I waddled to the bathroom every night. When I lie of the sofa I remember lying watching my belly move. Isobel’s room still contains her bath, her bouncer and the drawers are full of clothes, muslin cloths, baby towels, nappies and wipes. The Mother and Father’s Day cards Simon and I got for each other from the bump are still on our television unit.
Sometimes I wish I could go and live somewhere where children are not allowed and pregnant women are expelled as soon as the test turns positive. But more than that I want to live a full life and not be restricted by avoidance or limited by emotions. So I go out, I see the pregnant people and the babies and I try to appreciate them for how adorable they really are. So many triggers are just in my mind anyway in the form thoughts, desires or memories and there is no getting away from those. I think about Isobel constantly, prompted or unprompted. Sometimes I wish I could have a little break from it but actually imagining a time when I am not thinking about her seems worse.