Not a lot to report this week, pregnancy-wise. I’m in the awkward wait between appointments, not feeling movements yet, hoping my baby is still alive. We’ve been trying to enjoy December – decorating the tree, gift shopping, Christmas markets. I’m not finding the idea of Christmas as painful as I expected, although it does all feel a bit… irrelevant. Like I’m going through the motions because it’s something to do; I’m looking forward to seeing family and eating good food and receiving the coffee machine that’s on my wishlist. But there are no warm, fuzzy feelings about this Christmas.

And then, the anxiety of the new year looms.

I’ve been living in a grief bubble for the last six months. I stay at home, I rest, I try to look after myself. Very little is required of me. We’ve been surviving with me out of work since Dottie was born, but with the upcoming turn of the year comes the realization that I can’t live like this forever. And maybe I don’t want to? A few weeks ago, I woke up, and my first thought, out of the blue, was, “I want to live again.” I don’t know how, and it didn’t make any immediate change, but it felt like a step forward: admitting that I don’t want to be stuck in my grief forever. I want to rebuild my life. I want to enjoy things again.

I had a job interview this week. I didn’t get it, but that’s okay. It felt symbolic in a way. I put on smart clothes, I shook hands, and I answered their questions well. I felt “normal” for a while. I felt like maybe there is a world outside of my grief, and maybe I can rejoin it one day.

Despite this, thinking about the new year is hard. The only way I know how to think about the future is anxiously. Will I be able to find work? Will we run out of money? Will this baby die, too? Will we spend the next few months cautiously preparing to bring a baby home, only to lose them at the last second? How am I expected to enter 2024, to face turning a year older, without my first baby at home? And then, guilt. Why am I not finding Christmas as hard as other bereaved parents seem to be? Am I numb, in self-protection mode? Is this new pregnancy distracting me from the baby I should never have lost?

Thinking about 2024 means accepting that this baby exists and will come into the world one way or another. We are desperate to bring them home, alive and well, but I’m not yet able to hold hope as my primary emotion.

rainbow, stuffed octopus, and ultrasound image - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 15: Festive Anxiety

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

Yesterday, while Christmas shopping in town, we bought a soft, fluffy green octopus for Dottie’s stocking. It’s not lost on me that Dottie will never open her stocking, will never see the gifts that are bought for her. It’s also not lost on me that I chose that green octopus with the small hope that the baby currently living inside me will one day play with it. A few weeks ago, I bought a small wooden rainbow for the nursery, a gesture to honor the new life in me that is teaching us to hope again. I dream that one day, the nursery will be filled with noise, play, laughter, and not just mementos of longed-for babies.

Please excuse this jumble of thoughts. It’s hard, I’m realizing, to chronicle this pregnancy, when I am barely able to admit to myself that it’s real. Really I am chronicling my grief, my confusion, my fear; a desire to rejoin the world and overwhelming anxiety at the thought of it. Hopefully, soon, I’ll have an update on how the baby is doing and maybe a renewed sense of hope for the coming months.

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