Settling in to Reality

I’ve often wondered what goes through someone’s head when the bottom drops out. How do you respond? How do you react? When the news from the doctor’s mouth wipes away any of the plans, ideas and dreams you had for your life? For your child’s life?

Well, now I know.

I still think back to the second we received that news.

“I have bad news.”

The words didn’t register. I was in complete disbelief. I remember looking at Mr. B to see the same blank look that I knew I was wearing.

And then the tears came. As I quickly dressed myself after the ultrasound and hurried behind the doctor into a more private office, things slowly sank in.

Then, there were pictures and drawings and “I’m sorry.” And a whole list of appointments and specialists’ names.

And a growing list of questions.

And then, we were out the door, headed home to deal with this news that would forever change our family.

I remember waking up last Friday morning, so glad the restless night was over — certain that what had happened the day before was just another one of the awful pregnancy nightmares I’d been having. But then I checked my phone and saw the messages and the numerous phone calls. And I read my blog post that talked about the news.

And then I had to live the crushing blow all over again — when I realized it hadn’t been a nightmare at all. It was reality. It is reality.

There were a lot of thoughts rushing through my mind. There still are. Crushed Changed dreams.What ifs. Whys. Hows. And guilt. There is so much guilt.

I feel like my body has betrayed our baby — and continues to do so every second. And that no matter what I do, or what I’ve done, our baby is going to have a hard and scary start — and journey — in this world.

Because, no matter how many of the “rules” I’ve followed or how many of the “right” decisions I’ve made since even before I got pregnant, this horrible thing happened.

I read about all the things I was supposed to do — and the things I wasn’t. I asked the doctor all the right questions — getting permission to run and lift weights and do all the things I wanted to continue doing. But only if it would be OK for our baby. I honored my body, and our growing baby, and will continue to do so throughout the pregnancy:

  • Gave up uncooked lunch meats.
  • Passed up sushi.
  • Quit eating soft cheeses.
  • Stopped drinking alcohol — even before I got pregnant, “just in case.”
  • Took the right vitamins — starting before Pickle even came to be.
  • Exercised — lifting weights, running, walking, you name it.
  • Ate the right amounts of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins and low fat dairy and whole grains.
  • Drank lots of water.
  • Cut back significantly on caffeine, limiting myself to (at most) a cup of tea a week.
  • Tried to get as much sleep as I could.
  • Started practicing yoga and finding ways to reduce my stress.
  • Talked to Pickle, sang to him/her, played music.

I worried about food-borne illnesses and over-exertion. I willed our baby to move or, in some way, make his/her presence known — just so I would be assured that all was well. I worried about everything. I tried to do everything right.

But, damn it, nobody told me to worry about some rare heart defect. Nobody told me our child could be born with half of a heart. Nobody told me that, for some reason, my body wouldn’t provide the right environment for our baby to thrive.

Everyone says it’s not my fault. Doctors. Experts. Research. And, deep down, I know it’s true. In order to get through this, I have to believe that.

But no matter what anyone says — friend, family or expert — or what the research shows, I can’t help but think this is somehow my fault. Because it’s my body that is supposed to be the safe, comforting home for Pickle. And my body isn’t doing its job. My body failed in those first eight weeks when Pickle’s tiny heart was forming. Something went wrong. And I can’t help but feel responsible.

When we’ve told people what’s going on, reactions ranged from shock to sadness to disbelief.  There was a lot of love and support in those phone calls and text messages and emails. There are a lot of prayers being sent up for our darling Pickle. And people have sent us so much sunshine and so many rainbows to help us through. There also were questions and more questions. And we got a lot of empathy — and sympathy. But, honestly, T2.5‘s reaction was probably the most honest — and the one that hit the nail on the head. Because it’s what most closely echoed what I was saying to myself as I shared the news and as I worked to process what was happening. He may not be the most eloquent person I know, but he is always honest. (Pardon the language …)

“F*ck. F*ck. F*ck. Oh, my God, f*ck.”

So this is where my head is today, as I continue to recognize and embrace our family’s new reality — knowing that changed dreams isn’t the same thing as crushed dreams and that all of these feelings are part of dealing with the news so I/we can best move forward.

Every day is different. Some days, quite frankly, suck. And some days are fine and full of hope.

Because I recognize that, at the end of this, we’re still going to be the parents of a wonderful miracle baby who changed our lives for the better before we even met him/her.

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6 thoughts on “Settling in to Reality

    • Thank you so much. I’m so happy to hear about your daughter. And thank you for the link for Sisters By Heart — we’re going to need all the support we can get, and it’s nice to know this community exists.

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