And this is a pervasive problem; how many of you are reciting your mental list of the flaws you think your body has right now?
And then my body couldn't make a healthy baby. Suddenly clear skin and cellulite free thighs disappeared as worries. I stopped looking at my body. I stopped yoga. Stopped dancing. I hated my body for killing the baby; sometimes I am still so angry with this flesh that failed so badly. Along with emotional grieving, this body also mourned: the aches from an utterly empty uterus, the breasts that swelled with milk and then never returned to normal since I never lost weight, arms that needed to hold a baby so badly that they clenched and throbbed and then disappeared. It's like mind, arms, womb, breasts, voice all separated, dissociating to grieve privately, unable to also feel the pain of the other parts.
My doctors told me over and over that one can't do anything to cause bilateral renal agenesis and that it wasn't my fault, but then who's to blame? The undeveloped organs were caused by something happening or not happening and I know exactly where Toren was for his entire life so this wasn't something that occurred when he was outside of my care.
* * * * *
My stages of grief work went like this:
1. Shock and numbness
2. Get through each day
3. Get through each day sober
And now it's time to gather the body parts together to re-integrate as a whole person. Before attempting a subsequent family (new partner and perhaps a pregnancy that may turn into a take-home baby) I want to feel whole, strong, capable, and ready. This may sound weird but it's like my pregnancy with Toren has not ended yet. Where a mother's body is concerned, pregnancy should go like this: pregnancy weight gain, huge belly, lose weight with delivery, lose more weight breastfeeding, and finally going on a diet to get back to one's pre-pregnancy weight. Toren's pregnancy stalled out at the pregnancy weight gain step. I'm still hanging on to him, still waiting for the outcome that was "supposed" to happen.
Defeated uterus, tired brain, futile breasts, and painfully empty arms ... being well indoctrinated that the cure to most physical annoyances is to lose weight, going on a diet was my automatic first solution. Can a diet make a deadbaby mama whole? Where are the magazine articles addressing this body image problem? I don't think weight loss itself is the key, however the healthy behaviors that often lead to weight loss, such as exercise and a nutritious diet, could be beneficial. Even so a weight loss ticker has been added off to the right.
Here's how these extra 28 pounds came to be:
- 8 pounds from writing my thesis (no exercise + take out for 3 months)
- 12 pounds of pregnancy weigh gain (which is mysterious and embarrassing since Toren was so tiny and there was no amniotic fluid)
- 8 pounds from consuming impressive quantities of wine for 2 years
Changes made so far:
- Only occasional drinking (2-4 drinks per week), tapering down to wondrously sparse alcohol consumption.
- Making a salad or sandwich for lunch instead of bringing a microwave meal.
- Personal training - however my gym use has been limited due to my broken patella - bah!
* * * * *
Now for a "you-simply-can't-stop-being-annoyingly-pregnant-can-you?" blurb.
Yesterday I asked my pregnant colleague who talks about all the stuff she needs me to do while she is on maternity leave in December how her dr's appointment was (because it is polite to ask). The answer was that she waited for an hour to see the dr for 2 minutes and that prenatal visits are a waste of time, however she did get to hear the heartbeat. Either she really finds pregnancy boring because she's already successfully carried a pregnancy to the end or she is minimizing her excitement for my benefit so I won't think that being pregnant is anything to write home about.
Can you believe that? She told me that prenatal visits were a waste of time - like I had never been to one and would never want to go to one now!
Prenatal visits were anything but a waste of time for me. The first 2 were normal and exciting but after the heavy bleeding starting at week 13 the visits were more frequent and I held my breath each time until the doppler picked up Toren's heartbeat. Then of course there was the anatomy visit and boy do I ever wish that were a boring day rather than the day that began years of agonizing sorrow.
She's planning a c-section, which I have no issue with, but the reason she told me was that when she was induced for her last delivery she waited for 20 hours (boring) and then had a c-section. I didn't say that it took 72 hours from the time my induction began to when Toren was delivered, but it didn't feel like a long time because there were so many emotions to process and fears to conquer. I was in no rush to leave the hospital without him.
This is all really bitchy but it illustrates the different perspectives on simple things that come along with a deadbaby.