One of the questions Susan asked me in our private childbirth class the other night was what fears I had about labor and delivery before Hudson was born. I could barely remember having any. I remembered being afraid I would throw up during transition, but other than that, most of my fears revolved around not being able to have the “ideal” birthing experience I wanted. My worst case scenario was probably that I would have to have a c-section. I honestly don’t think it ever occurred to me, not even once, that we might not bring home a live baby at the end of it all, only that the process itself might not go the way I wanted it to. I was blissfully unaware of the entire world of unexplained stillbirths, cord accidents, placental abruptions—I feel lucky now that I had no idea how wrong things could go, that I have at least one birth experience that is almost entirely positive and totally untainted by fear.
Susan then asked me how I thought I might feel about this birth if there were any way to put aside all those fears that I have now about what might happen to Jackson during labor and delivery. I like to believe that I would feel the same about it as I did before Hudson died—very confident that I could do it again and deliver a live, healthy baby without interventions or medication. I would feel strong and vital and very mother-earthy, much like I did in the days immediately after Hudson was born. For the longest time, whenever I would take Hudson to the pediatrician, which is in the same complex as the hospital where she was born, I would get the most intense feelings of nostalgia—about LABOR. Really. In hindsight, it became one of the most amazing experiences of my life, one I was actually looking forward to repeating. Susan reminded me so kindly that Hudson gave me that gift—yet another of so many innumerable gifts that incredible child gave me in the 17 months and 12 days she spent with me here and the nine more months she spent inside my body.
Now, of course, driving into that complex, where we took Hudson to the pediatrician on the morning of May 10, and where I took her to the emergency room at Children’s in the same complex later that day, has a whole different feeling. Now when I go there, I have the most intense feelings of both dread and longing (since that is where I last saw her). What an awful twist of fate that the place where we held her as she died is a parking lot away from the place where we held her when she was born.
Now, of course, it is impossible for me to separate my feelings of fear about what might happen to Jackson from my feelings of empowerment about what a great job I did delivering Hudson. The horror of having lost one child already is too overpowering and is still so terribly fresh in my mind. I honestly do not know what I would do if Jackson died.
The layers of loss just continue to peel away, revealing ever more raw skin underneath. My fears about labor and delivery are just another layer. How I wish, with every fiber of my being, that it wasn’t so, that we could rewind and redo and head into the final stretch of this pregnancy with nothing but naïve confidence in the power of my body and the goodness of the world, and plans for the first big sister/little brother meeting and photo. How I wish.