Nothing I Want More

The last several days, my anxiety has come creeping in to every waking moment. It’s something I live with every day—and have, I think, for most of my life—but it’s easily exacerbated by situations that I cannot control.

These days, I am thinking constantly about Eleanora and our next child. I’m envisioning being pregnant again. Going to the doctor’s office again. Seeing pregnant women, who never made me nervous before, in the waiting room again. Getting my hopes up again. Feeling kicks and squirms again. Picking out a name again. Doing everything possible to ensure that child’s safety and survival again.

But because all my brain and body knows is death, I also think constantly about losing. Again.

In a way, I am at peace not knowing the cause of Eleanora’s death. If I knew the cause, I know that I would inevitably find a way to blame myself for it, no matter what it was.

But, because I don’t know (and even though I know we made the right choice to not have an autopsy performed), I am left to wonder, did my body do this? I’ve asked my doctor this question time and time and time again, and every time, she’s told me, “We really don’t think so.” The entire pregnancy, I was healthy, she was healthy, and I did every single thing in every single rulebook to ensure that Eleanora got here safely.

(As a side note, please do not EVER question my doctor’s capabilities to my face. This has been done more than once, and it disgusts me. It’s no one’s fault that Eleanora is gone. My doctor performed every routine blood panel, checkup, and scan that every other pregnant person receives. My doctor is not to blame, and Eleanora’s death has not led me to distrust her. In fact, if possible, I want her and only her to deliver all of my future babies. So please, don’t EVER ask me, “How are you feeling about your doctor since Eleanora died?” I feel that she did everything she could, just as I did.)

Despite the reassurance, that anxiety is there (because my anxiety is nothing if not incredibly persistent), in the back of my mind, nagging, “But what if your body did do this? What if Eleanora’s death had nothing to do with her and everything to do with you?”

The next question, of course, is, “What if this happens again?”

I am constantly, constantly, trying to picture our lives with a living, breathing child. I try to imagine sitting in a hospital bed, holding a baby who’s looking, blinking, back at me. I can only imagine a child who looks like she’s sleeping. I try to picture a baby in that blessedly beautiful nursery we built. I try to picture myself leaning up against the doorframe, watching a snoozing child lie in the crib while the summer sun streams in through the window. I try to picture the yellow rosebush blooming just outside that window. But all I can imagine are these dark days and that empty crib.

I told my therapist this week that what scares me more than anything else is knowing that I can do every single possible thing right to bring a baby home and STILL end up losing her. I am living proof that everything can go perfectly until one instant, poof, everything is wrong. It’s so easy to believe that “things like that don’t happen to me” until you ARE the person they happen to. And once it happens, it’s so hard to believe that it won’t happen every. single. time.

I can control what I eat, how much water I drink, how much sleep I get, what positions I sleep in, how much exercise I get, and what medicines and vitamins I take, but no matter how hard I try or how perfectly I follow all the rules or how much love I have to give, I cannot ultimately control whether or not my next child is also taken away from me. This is what I think of. Constantly.

There is nothing I want more in the world than to be pregnant again, to be anticipating a new life coming into our home. But there is also nothing I am more afraid of than that very same thing.

There is nothing I can do to alleviate this anxiety, aside from try to relinquish my need for control. I’m honestly not sure how to do that. How do you not shake with fear knowing that, no matter how hard you try, it still might not be enough? How do you say, “Sure, I’ll do what I can and let go of the rest,” when every cell in your body is screaming, “Please, GOD, just let me keep my baby. What do I have to do to get you to let me keep this child?”

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

What I do know is this: whenever our Someday Baby comes, I will once again do every single thing I possibly can to make sure that child comes home. I will follow all the same rules, again. We will pick out a name and I’ll sing lullabies through the fear. I’ll beg Eleanora to keep watch over us. I’ll beg God to let this one stay. I’ll cry in the ultrasound room waiting to find out if the heartbeat is still there. I’ll take every opportunity for extra monitoring, bloodwork, and testing that I can get. I will be terrified, but I also will fight like hell for that child.

Until then, I’m doing my best to create an imaginary montage where that baby lives. I’m trying to envision a picture-perfect moment of Daniel and me, walking side by side out of the hospital, with a tiny, perfect, E-named child sleeping peacefully between us. In that moment, one of us is holding Eleanora Bear, and we’re all—together—going home.

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