I feel sometimes as though I've been woken from a comfortable slumber by a shimmering man in chains: The Ghost of Pregnancy Past. Throughout the year he wakes me and pulls me from memory to memory, hope to hope, reminding me of a world that could've been. There are times that I willingly accompany him on this journey; witnessing the seemingly unattainable becomes a welcome substitute for the real thing. But much of the time I'd rather stay in bed than relive haunting reminders of life lost.
To most people January might be a rebirth, new year, new you. I make the resolutions with everyone else and try to shake off the Christmas decadence, but January has a secondary identity for me. I can't help but think of that 1/1/08 due date I had with my last chemical pregnancy. I don't know what my EDDs would've been with my other chemicals - the positives weren't positive long enough for even the idle daydreams of deliveries to come.
In April I watch my husband as he pushes himself in his last few weeks of training for his annual 150 mile bike ride. I drive him to the start and pick him up at the end, cheering him along in the day in between. But I also recall how I once announced a pregnancy to him on the drive home as he "found" a positive pee stick in my purse. He was exhausted from the ride but couldn't contain how excited he was to be given another chance.
May sees my birthday roll around again, with Mother's Day hot on it's heels (or as in the case of this year, right on top). I "celebrate" Mother's Day as so many of us do, trying to recognize our own mothers while doing our best to stop from drowning in the reminders of our own empty nests. And a few days after Mother's Day, on May 14th, I think of what would've been had my twin pregnancy turned out differently. I watch friends celebrate their children's birthdays and imagine our own celebrations, which would've had the same number of candles on the brightly colored cake. And when May next approaches I imagine I'll remember the bewilderment I felt upon learning that our first IVF attempt had failed spectacularly.
September brings reminders of an entire month in which I was pregnant. Ultrasounds with beating hearts and bleeding scares. October finds us with Trick-or-Treaters knocking on our doors, but the true frights come on the 10th and 12th - the anniversaries of my m/c and d&c. November brings another chemical reminder.
And today, August 31st, is the 2 year anniversary of my first positive test with my twins. It was 10dpo and I was bleeding profusely but my obsession forced me to pee on another stick. After what appeared to be a faint positive I drove all over town, shaking from nerves, and bought test after test. Dollar Tree and FRER, Accu-Clear and CBE. Digitals were purchased but not used until the double lines were dark enough to assure that I wouldn't be faced with the dreaded "NOT PREGNANT". I showed my husband a picture of the first test when he came home from work that evening and asked him if he saw a line. He did, I confessed it was *my* line and he suggested that a bag of "celebratory Cheetos" were in order. I was pregnant.
This anniversary combined with the impending IVF cycle is, I think, what brings morose thoughts to my mind these days. Overlapping past feelings of elation and bounty with fears of failure, both immediate and ultimate.
I don't recall how I experienced this anniversary last year - perhaps the date passed without notice. I realize that I am now holding tight to these dates, keeping them closer to my heart than may be safe. And I wonder if it's my grip on them that prevents me from experiencing a full life. I know I cannot live in the past, cannot keep experiencing the same repeating cycle of hope and fear and loss. And yet I can't let go. What if this is my only chance at motherhood - what if those were my only babies? Isn't it normal to want to experience them fully, even if only in stained and painful memories?
Do I hold on to what might've been because I am not a mother? Or am I not a mother because I hold so tightly to what might've been? Or is it my tight grasp on the lost that *makes* me a mother?
"I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find." - The Shins