I'm convinced this is the bravest I'll ever be.
The morning after we got the news I called my doctor, set up my first six week appointment as one would with any pregnancy. Then I called my perinatologist, left a message with his secretary. He called me at work an hour later, congratulated me and asked when I could come in for blood work and my self-injection lesson.
I glanced at my planner. "How's Friday?"
He paused. "We'd like to see you today."
Nothing about this pregnancy has been easy. Maybe it's because when I glance at my stomach as it slightly protrudes over the elastic waistbands, I picture the ten month old who should be crawling at my feet.
Maybe it's because I never owned a Doppler before you.
I was explaining said instrument to a co-worker the other day, the hand-held monitor used to detect the baby's heartbeat in utero. She was surprised. "I didn't know doctors gave those out now!"
They don't. You have to buy them.
I've described my relationship with this device as love-hate. Like a really, really, intense love, and a dreadful, fearing, seething hatred. Some may find this description to be dramatic, but I can assure you I feel both emotions with every use.
People ask me how I'm doing, how I'm feeling, and maybe it's because I can't bear to tell them the truth.
I can't tell them how every time someone asks about this baby I wonder if I'm a liar. If, while I'm smiling and nodding and responding to questions about genders and due dates, I'm wondering if this baby is dead too, and I just don't know it yet.
Maybe it's because with every day that passes, I am slightly more hopeful but mostly more afraid. I envision a bigger baby I will have to say goodbye to. I picture my living room as a funeral home, beautiful flowers and cards lining the fireplace.
Maybe it's because I stare at all the holiday lights and Christmas trees and I miss you. I just miss you so much.
Over Thanksgiving, my amazingly caring and adorable seven year old nephew approached me. "Aunt Nora, if this baby is sick can we get another tree next to Josie's?" Your brother's eyes lit up as he grabbed my hand. "Pleeeeeaaase??!!"
Perhaps it's because this question, once considered morbid and scary, provides me with such a comfort. To know the horror of this loss and the fear that rages within me does not penetrate their innocence. To know they could ask such a thing and return happily to their Lego battle made me smile.
But I think it's because despite all of my efforts to distance myself from this baby, I cannot.
I cannot evict the hope that resides deep within me. When I think of holding him or her, pink and screaming in my arms I can't help but smile, can't stop the euphoria from taking residence in this skin ever so briefly.
It's because every time I hear that heartbeat, time and again I check for its presence, I am ruined. Lessons learned are rendered useless, resolved to dreams of happy endings as if I had never lost you.
The shots aren't bad. The medication stings, slow and steady as it enters the skin and for several minutes afterwards. I get these hideous bruises all over my stomach, had a paper cut last week that bled for over a minute.
But I don't care. I don't care about any of that.
If they told me I needed to stab myself every hour on the hour, walk into a burning building or let a pack of wild hyneas gnaw at my extremities I would do it. I would do it for your brother. I would do it for this baby. I would have done it for you.
Did you know that needles used to scare me?
Truthfully, I don't even feel it.