I have now been pregnant for about three and half days longer than I was pregnant with Hudson, who arrived at 38 weeks and 5 days. Jackson is still wiggling around plenty, but he is apparently turned posterior (as evidenced by ultrasound and by the searing momentary pain I get in my lower back when he moves sometimes) and Monday’s sonogram estimates that he weighs 8lb13oz right now. His position and his (apparent) size may be keeping him from making his way further down. We had our first real blip on a non-stress test on Monday—my strip was “reassuring but non-reactive” meaning that his heartrate was accelerating with movements, but not accelerating as much as it’s supposed to. I think it probably really was just a blip, with no real import—when I go for those tests first thing in the morning, he always seems to be moving plenty before I get there and then as soon as they hook me up to the monitor he goes to sleep, so he moves very little and his heartrate stays pretty steady for the most part. At yesterday’s OB appointment, the doctor said I was about 2-3 cm along and he apparently stripped my membranes some while he was checking me in hopes it might get things going for me (he didn’t tell me he was going to do this beforehand, though, which was a bit odd, but I decided if it worked, I certainly wasn’t going to complain). But here I am, a day later, with no change at all. I definitely started having more contractions yesterday than I’d had before, but they never became regular or painful, and they appear to have disappeared altogether today. Holding pattern.
With all the anxiety I’ve had throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been so eager not to be pregnant anymore, especially as we started closing in on the end—when I hit 37 weeks, I said I was going to start a full-on labor induction campaign, doing all the natural things they say might help bring on labor. But two weeks later, I have yet to really do any of that—I still walk the dog once a day and have continued going to yoga, and I’m sitting on an exercise ball all the time now (in hopes of getting him to rotate), but other than that, I’m kind of just hanging tight and waiting. Yesterday, after a Facebook post about the OB appointment, people made several different suggestions, including acupuncture and essential oils. And yet here I am, a day later, having taken no more steps towards pulling the trigger on anything that might definitely get labor started.
It didn’t take a whole lot of pondering about this for me to understand it. I am definitely ready not to be pregnant anymore. I am also pretty ready to meet Jackson, too, I think. But what I am still not ready for is a mommy world without Hudson, a world where I have to learn to mother a living and deeply loved child right alongside a deceased and deeply loved child who we are still so actively grieving. Part of me is ready for Jackson to be born just so that I can stop wondering what this world is going to be like and just start living in it, but another part of me recognizes that his arrival is in some ways the ultimate act of moving forward without Hudson. As soon as he emerges, my attention will be diverted from her in a way that it hasn’t been while I’ve been pregnant—in many ways, the anxiety I’ve had over Jackson has been just another manifestation of my grief over Hudson, and therefore has been another thing keeping me tethered to her.
And yes, I know that all parents having a second child face this reality of how they can possibly divide their attention when that child arrives, how they can possibly love another as much as they love the first, but in my case, my older child is gone. Diverting my attention from her is so very different in that way, because bringing my attention back to her will never mean planning special outings for just her and me once a week or a special nighttime routine that we do just us together so that she knows how much she is still loved despite how much attention her brother is stealing from her. In my case, bringing my attention back to her will mean taking time for myself alone to cry and grieve and remember her, to stare at her pictures and wonder how it is possible that she is not with us, to tell her little brother stories about her and help him learn to say her name and point her out in photos. In my case, like other parents, my love for my second child will be very different than the love I have for my first, except that in my case, the biggest difference is that my oldest child is gone. And this reality still makes me so very sad that part of me is just not ready to proactively jump into it.
This morning I had a dream about Hudson. I haven’t dreamed about her in a while. She was in the arms of another couple and they were trying to coax her to come to me. She was her same 17-month-old self but she was speaking in full sentences, although it still sounded like a baby’s talk. I said, “Hudson, where’s Mommy?” and other things trying to get her to smile or come to me and she wouldn’t. Finally I had her in my arms and somehow I just knew that she was upset with me for abandoning her, for leaving her behind. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “You hurt my feelings.” And I started to cry. I pulled her close to me into a tight hug and just said, “Oh, sweetie, I am so sorry I hurt your feelings. I am so, so sorry.” And I just kept repeating “I’m sorry” over and over into her ear as I snuggled her close. She hugged me back. It’s always nice to hug her in my dreams, even though this one was so very sad.
It’s so very strange when my dreams are as transparent as this one was. Even though we’ve been planning for this baby for almost a year and I’ve been pregnant for nine months and we’ve named him and bought him clothes and I’ve made him things and we’ve imagined many, many ways we’ll work hard for him to know who Hudson was, his actual arrival is just a whole other ball game. Soon he will be here in our arms and Hudson never will be again. In some ways, I expect it will feel like losing her all over again. And there is just no getting around that his birth will be a lurching movement forward without Hudson in a way that nothing else so far has been. And I feel awful about that, more so than I ever realized until just now. I don’t want to move forward without her, even though I know that I must. I don’t want to leave her behind in any way, but this reality doesn’t give me much of a choice. I can’t ever have her back and yet still I must move forward.
And all of a sudden, I’m no longer in a rush to do it.