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Now that Geordie and I are actively trying to conceive, I’m thinking more about what kind of birth I want to have and where I want to have it. I’m thinking about this because it’s what other – normal – women think about when they’re having babies. I’m thinking about it because I want to ignore the fact that I will not be having a normal pregnancy, even if there is nothing wrong with me or the baby or anything else.

My daughter was stillborn. That automatically puts me in the “high risk” category. Even though I had no problems with the three glucose tests I took. Even though I never had signs of pre-eclampsia. Even though everything was going perfectly until Lauren’s heart stopped beating. Obviously, something went wrong. Unfortunately, nobody knows what or why.

I understand why I would be considered high risk, I do. The last thing I want is to lose another baby. Nobody would want that. But it frustrates me that it means that I might not be able to make the decisions during pregnancy or delivery. Again.

See, in Japan, birth plans are pretty much unheard of. The doctor is in charge; what the woman wants doesn’t always come first. In fact, depending on the doctor, it doesn’t even factor in. My first doctor in Japan was awesome, but very Westernized. He had his own clinic and, being unaffiliated with a hospital, was free to allow his patients to make their own decisions. It wasn’t until later, after we’d moved and were looking for a new doctor, that we understood how incredibly progressive he was. We rejected a couple of nearby hospitals because they did not allow fathers (or any non-medical personnel) into the delivery room. We only heard of one clinic that offered pain relief during delivery, and they were no longer accepting anyone around my due date. Although I had a birth plan in mind, I didn’t bother to write it up, much less present it to my doctor at the hospital we eventually picked. We didn’t see the point. Nobody ever asked my opinion about anything or my preference. It was always, “This is what we are going to do.” And they only did that because we asked them. The first part of my induction with Lauren went terribly because I was never told what was happening. If not for Geordie’s presence, I would never have known what was going on.

That’s just the way it was. Given the circumstances, there was nothing to be done about it. But I believe that, even if I had been giving birth to a live baby, I wouldn’t have had much say in the matter. I almost believe they gave me a little more leeway – because I’m American, or because my daughter was dead, I can’t say. In the end, my doctor did the best he could, and I liked the staff well enough. Except for that midwife. I still think unpleasant thoughts about her.

The plain and ugly truth is that – according to “studies” – a woman who has had a stillbirth has a higher risk of having another one. How much higher is the risk? Twofold to tenfold, according to one. That seems like a pretty big range, right? If the risk of stillbirth is 0.4% for a first-time pregnancy, then it could be anywhere from 0.8-4% for subsequent pregnancies. It all depends on the cause.

So what if the cause was unknown? Lauren’s cord and placenta were fine and healthy. No knots or kinks – which is important, because cord accidents apparently can recur. The same thing with placental abruptions; those also have a possibility of recurrence. Bad news for mothers who have had those problems – but what about me?

I don’t know. I do know that I follow the blogs of at least two ladies who have given birth to healthy second babies after the unexplained stillbirths of their first children. I also know that I’ve heard the stories of at least two ladies who had two unexplained stillbirths before delivering a healthy baby. I don’t know where that puts me. All I know is that I’m terrified of losing another baby. I will do whatever it takes to be able to bring home a healthy baby.

But I also want to have some say in my pre-natal care. I love the idea of giving birth in a birth center, not a hospital. I just don’t know if that’s an option for me.

Tomorrow, Geordie and I are going to an open house at a birth center run by midwives. The woman who spoke to me on the phone warned me that I might be “risked-out” because of Lauren’s death. But she also said that they needed more information to make that decision. And she also said that, if I am risked-out, they might be able to offer some suggestions on where to turn to find the care I’m looking for.

So, I’m worried but hopeful, which is probably something I should get used to. It’s likely to be my most consistent feeling during pregnancy #2.

Finally. February is over, finally.

Finally.

I don’t have much to say today, other than that I’m happy February is over. The house is no longer falling apart (though the fence is still in need of some attention, but it’s holding fine for now). The kittens are mostly over their colds – Mirin started sneezing last week, but she’s still fine and active, and Yuzu is pretty well over it now. I’ve lost five pounds in the last two weeks and hope to lose another eight or so by the end of this month.

The only dark cloud on the horizon is the sequestration. Geordie is a civilian working for the government. Fortunately, he’s not going to lose his job (that would be the absolute worst-case scenario and seems highly unlikely), but he probably will be furloughed. Details are still hazy. The most likely outcome is that Geordie will have a four-day work week for a certain amount of months. Not terrible, and we have managed our money pretty well so we’re financially stable at the moment. But losing a day a week is going to force us to tighten our belts a little bit more. Number-wise, we can do it, so we’re not that worried. It’s just that we’re going to have to be less frivolous and a little more thrifty.

So far, this is not affecting our TTC plans. We’re still planning on trying, and we’re still planning on trying starting this month. Which is terrifying in its own way. I don’t want to count on getting pregnant as easily as I did with Lauren, but if it did happen, I could be spending the rest of this year pregnant. I could be holding a baby – my own child – at the end of this year.

It’s what I’ve been wanting for so long now, but it’s a shock to think that it’s not just a plan now. It’s an action. I can stop saying “we’re planning to” or “we’re going to” or “we’re hoping to.” I can say, “We’re trying to have a baby.”

Finally.

And now, here is a picture of a kitten sitting in a trash can.

yuzutrash

I’ve been in a weird mood this past week. I blame it partly on the season – mid-winter has always been my least favorite part of the year. I blame it partly on the three-day weekend – it’s great that Geordie gets a day off to relax and spend time at home, but I always feel like I’m playing catch up.

And I blame it partly on . . . I don’t know how to explain it. Memories? Not nostalgia, but kinda nostalgia.

Two years ago, Lauren was in development. We had no idea; even I had no idea, not this early on. Two years ago, our lives were on the brink of changing, in so many ways.

Everything feels all jumbly this week.

I don’t want to wait until March to start trying. But no way in hell do I want to try before then.

Is it weird that I don’t want our second child to be born in autumn? That I want that season to belong to Lauren? I know a couple of babyloss mamas who have had/are having their rainbow babies very near to the birthdays of their lost children. Is it weird that I couldn’t imagine having to share Lauren’s birthday with another child? Is it selfish? A little crazy?

I’m anxious to start trying, and the thought of it excites me, that we’re finally able to try again.

But at the same time, I’m terrified. I have doubts. I almost don’t want to.

Yes, I realize that’s normal. But the problem isn’t that I’m terrified of losing another baby (though I am). It’s not that I’m afraid something awful will happen (though I am).

The problem is that, deep down, I still just want to have Lauren back. She’s the baby I want. Right now, at this very moment today, she is the only baby I want.

I’ve written about this before, I know, but it’s been particularly troubling to me today. I can’t imagine being pregnant with any baby but Lauren. I can’t imagine bringing home any baby but Lauren. Even after having been without her for so long, I keep feeling like I’m just waiting for her to arrive. Like those last couple weeks of the pregnancy. I’m still waiting.

The worst of it is that I hate that I feel this way. I’m being unfair to a child who hasn’t even been conceived yet. While I realize that my outlook may change completely when (if – that’s a completely different fear) I get pregnant, right now, I can’t help feeling this way. Trust me, I’ve tried to reason with myself. It hasn’t worked. Grief is not often logical, which is what makes it so hard to deal with.

So, it’s been a rough week. I figure the rest of winter will be pretty rough too. As usual, I just can’t wait for spring to get here, only now I have more reasons than ever to feel that way.

It would be nice to feel normal again, but that’s a hopeless cause, I think. Normal really hasn’t got much meaning for me anymore.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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