Before Colette, I was the biggest planner of them all. I felt like if I had control of a situation, if I could come up with a plan, allow for all contingencies, and then be the point person, then things would go the way they were supposed to go.
I did this throughout life, through trying to conceive, our fertility treatments, and then through pregnancy.
When we went to our first OB appointment while pregnant with Colette, I did my homework and was prepared with a list of questions, to ask about every single detail of how a pregnancy and birth would go, when appointments would be, who I would call about what, etc. In fact, after leaving the first appointment, I went home and made all of my appointments for the entire pregnancy. I got regular email updates about what week of pregnancy we were in and what we should be doing at that point in the pregnancy. At work, by week 16 or 17, I had a memo ready for whoever covered my leave to have everything they would need to do my job. I was prepared for the pregnancy and motherhood.
Of course, when everything comes crashing down and you realize that all the planning in the world does not make a difference to an outcome, you change, you adapt. The naiveté of thinking you can plan for all scenarios falls away and, in its place, comes the perspective of let’s take this one day at a time and hope for the best. I feel like when I get questions like, will you have a baby shower or will you decorate the baby’s nursery or anything else, I answer with a shrug and a don’t know. I know that those who know me stare back at me, confused, wondering why this woman who always had everything planned out to the smallest detail does not know how to plan anymore. And the truth is, I do not know how to plan anymore, mostly because I do not see a point to it.
14 weeks is a big step in the surrogacy process.
This is the time when we have to do things like purchase a life insurance policy for G, plan who the guardian of our unborn child will be in case we both die before G delivers, and start paperwork to submit to the state so that we are the ones listed on the birth certificate right away. I am quick to respond to emails and to signing us up for the life insurance policy for example, but the truth is that I would do anything that it took to bring a baby home.
While getting to these stages and crossing off these checkboxes is exciting, I am also very scared. Making plans for this pregnancy and this baby is terrifying. I know what can happen, and I know that all the plans in the world did not prevent hospitalization, preeclampsia, growth restrictions, premature birth, NICU stays, or ultimately Colette’s death.
Every time I start to plan or talk about our little LL Cool T arriving in the world, or even scarier, coming home, there is excitement followed by an overwhelming sense of panic.
Then, because this roller coaster of loss, grief, and trying to bring home a living child is not fraught enough with pain and confusion, there usually is a feeling of guilt or anger over not being able to enjoy this pregnancy. I feel guilty that I am not in the same headspace as I was for Colette where I got to feel my body change and to experience the ups and downs of pregnancy, where I got excited over every little thing and constantly talked about life after she was home. I am angry that we went through this experience and that we cannot just relax and enjoy the journey or just think about life when LL Cool T comes home.
I want to enjoy this pregnancy. I want to plan for a baby coming home. I want to truly believe with no doubt that this child is coming home to us. But, the experience and pain of loss prevents me from truly doing this. Like I said, I would do whatever it took to bring this child home. So, if it is signing legal documents, purchasing a life insurance policy, or anything else, I will do it. Simultaneously, I also have this nagging voice in my head that warns me I am cursing the whole experience by making the assumptions that this pregnancy would result in a baby that comes home.
I realize that this is ridiculous, that millions of women every year and for decades have gotten pregnant, made plans, and had babies that were born healthy and came home as expected.
Just because we drew the short straw and were not that lucky does not mean that this pregnancy is the same or will end up in the same result. I also intellectually realize that making plans is not actually the reason why I developed preeclampsia or why Colette was born early or why Colette died. But, the emotional part of my brain that cannot comprehend why this happened cannot understand that part and searches for a reason why all of this happened.
At the end, trying to bring a child home after loss means that what should usually be a joyful and exciting process is one filled with emotions ranging from excitement to crippling fear to overwhelming anxiety. The fear and anxiety of trying to bring a child home after loss never goes away. It ebbs and flows, always present and always ready to disturb the peace and joy of a future that involves a child living at home. In the meantime, I try to take this day by day with fingers crossed and a heart full of hope that this outcome is different.