We’ve all heard at one time or another how someone has simultaneously announced their second line on the pregnancy stick, taken the tour of the maternity ward, registered for baby gear, and traded in their sedan for a family van. I did that back in 2004 before I found out that miscarriages weren’t just a myth.
Once that miscarriage (or two or four) has gone by, that person (me) never thinks the same way about a pregnancy, whether their own or someone else’s. They don’t assume that a new pregnancy ends the way 80% of the population thinks they do. In fact, they (me) even begin to believe the worst before they ever believe the best.
My son’s teacher announced to the class before Thanksgiving that she was expecting a baby in June. By my calculations, she at least waited to tell them after her first prenatal appointment, which is usually around week eight or nine. I wasn’t thrilled with the school’s permission to let her announce this to her students – second graders – so early, reasoning that it would be a distraction throughout the entire school session. Inwardly it was because I didn’t want her to have to untell a bunch of seven and eight year olds. Because that’s the way I think.
But see? That never happens in a perfect world, and to me his teacher was living that ideal. She had a little boy who was just potty trained. She must have planned the pregnancy with the due date occurring early summer, giving her time to enjoy a new baby before going back to school without disruption to the class schedule. She’s also very young…
A Perfect World.
Unfortunately, she found out this past weekend that there is no such thing as a Perfect World and had to announce to the children via the school’s principal that her baby died.
When Sparring Partner picked up Doodicus from school, my son shared the update with his dad, who then called me to pass on the sad news and to let myself prepare for the questions as Sparring Partner decided to tell Doodicus that we had had that happen to us. I again did some calculations and figured that the teacher, Mrs. P, would have been in the beginning of her second trimester.
While it’s not the way I would have preferred for Doodicus to learn that not all pregnancies result in a baby, Padora’s box has now been opened. I picked up Doodicus from daycare and we went through the regular pleasantries of “how was your day?” and “what homework do you have?”, and then he said, “Can I ask you a question?” I was glad that I was driving so that he couldn’t see my face from the back seat as I anticipated what was coming. “Sure,” I responded.
“Have you really been pregnant four times?”
I wondered why Sparring Partner had said four and could only presume that as a man he probably had no idea. “Actually I’ve been pregnant six times. My first was with you and my last was with Aitch.”
“Did the other babies die?”
“Yes.” I did not ask why he asked but waited to see how the conversation would progress.
“If you had all those babies, there sure would be a lot of kids in our family.”
“Yes, I suppose there would have been.”
“We were told today that Mrs. P’s baby died. I didn’t know that could happen.”
“Normally it doesn’t,” I responded. Normally. In a Perfect World.
We talked a bit about how sad Mrs. P was going to be and that we will say a prayer for her and her family. Doodicus told me that the principal suggested that the class not talk to Mrs. P about it as it would make her sad. I could only suggest to my son that he could mention to her in private how sad he was about her baby and that we prayed for her.
“Aitch and I were lucky, weren’t we…what happened to the other ones?”
“Yes, I suppose you were lucky, but the really lucky ones are Daddy and I because we have you both.”
I then told him briefly about my pregnancy with Vivienne when he was almost three and how I remember every detail of November 2004. I told him how when Daddy brought him home from daycare that day, he came into the bedroom where I had been lying their crying all day following that fateful ultrasound and asked me if I was going to be OK, too young to know only that I was very, very sad. I had told him I would be. Eventually.
At the end of my reverie, Doodicus started to tear up. When I asked what was wrong, he told me that he was sad because he almost died. I was startled by that and asked when did he almost die. “When I was born.” He knew the story of the emergency c-section and that he was so little and spent nearly a week in the hospital. I tried to ease his heart a bit by letting him know that while he was sick when born, we knew he would be alright and that we would take him home healthy.
After he had calmed down again I said that he shouldn’t dwell on it to the point it makes him unhappy, but that if he had more questions, he could come to us. I don’t wish to keep revisiting that wound, but I think he is ready to know more than we give him credit for.
An early pregnancy announcement will make any one of us want to “protect” the expectant mother by warning her not to count her proverbial chickens, but that makes us sound paranoid or jealous. True (for me) on both counts. I have never-and never will-wish that life lesson on anyone, and yet…with a sickening thud in the pit of my stomach upon this recent news, I heard in my head “I could have told you so,” and I hate myself for becoming so fucking jaded.