Sunday, April 6, 2008

Expiration Date

Today was my due date.

I have made my peace with the miscarriage, but I've always felt that it would never be fully behind me until today. There was still something hanging out there that was supposed to happen, but didn't. Today I can hear the door shutting, quietly but firmly.

The hardest thing about having a miscarriage is dealing with the death of your expectations. When you first find out you're pregnant, you have so many hopes and dreams, and then they're ripped away from you without any warning. With today, all of my expectations from my first pregnancy have expired and are behind me. I tend to look at the world with a jaundiced eye and expect the worst while hoping for the best. That said, it took me longer than I thought it would and it was harder than I thought it would be to get to where I stand today. Happily, I can now survey the damage around me and honestly report that the future is unrolling before me, and I feel ready to handle whatever it brings me.

Long before I was ready to become a mother, I read a book called Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent, a former midwife. The book is a great read because it describes all kinds of births (mostly good ones, and one very bad one), but there is one particular part that sticks out for me. Vincent became unexpectedly pregnant at 41, and then was devestated by her subsequent miscarriage. Her 12 year old son (who is CLEARLY the product of a Berkeley midwife!), finding her crying, initiated the following discussion:

"Well, you just have to have another one, Mom, because it's a Spirit Baby, and you should be its mother."

I must have looked puzzled because he said, "Don't you know about Spirit Babies? How could I know about them if you don't? I mean, you're my mom!" But he could see my perplexity.

So my first child, this not-yet-teenaged boy, pulled a wooden chair to my side and draped his thin arm across my shoulders, saying, "Well, Mom, here's how it is. See, I was one myself, so that must be how I know. Anyway, every woman has a circle of babies that goes around and around above her head, and those are all the possible babies she could have in her whole life. Every month, one of those babies is first in line. If she gets pregnant, then that's the baby that's born. If she doesn't get pregnant, the baby goes back into the circle and keeps going around with all the others. If she gets pregnant but something bad happens before the baby's born. . .now listen, Mom, because here's the really cool part. It goes back into the circle, but it becomes a Spirit Baby, and all the other babies give it cuts. Each month, it's always first in line. Isn't that great?

"So, you just have to get pregnant again, and you'll have the same Spirit Baby. If you don't, though, the the baby circle will just beam that little Spirit Baby over to some other woman's circle, and it'll be first in line for her. It keeps being first in line somewhere until it finally gets born."--Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, by Peggy Vincent

I feel optimistic that my Spirit Baby will find me soon, and today I'm wishing that that the next baby in line in your baby circle finds you soon, too.

P.S. If you're like me and you keep score of women who are older than you that have successful pregnancies, you'll be happy to learn that Vincent went on to have a successful pregnancy at age 42.


Anonymous said...

Oh Queenie... I'm so sorry about today. I know you'll find your Spirit Baby, and I know that you'll be happier than you can even imagine. But I'm sill sorry that you had to go through the hurt that it took to get here.

Io said...

Queenie, this must be such a hard day. I'm so sorry for your loss.
The idea of a Spirit Baby is beautiful. I hope yours finds you soon.

Anonymous said...

Oh Queenie ... that story and that Spirit Baby is so touching. It was a little bit of warmth I needed today. Thank you for sharing your hurt and healing! From a girl with 7 + years of spirit babies dangling around her head it is a blessing to be able to name them so.
(And thanks for the link btw - it was also touching to see!)

Barren Babe said...

Passing your due date is the most difficult time because you can't help but focus on what is missing, not to mention the pain of seeing other babies. Unfortunately, my husband really didn't get why I was so depressed until I told him. I had to avoid shopping malls for a couple of months to avoid the stroller-brigade. Must warn you that Mother's Day may be a difficult time for you.

Love the idea of a Spirit Baby, but I think mine must be getting tired and frustrated.

Please know that it does get better through time. Honest.

BB and MTB said...

Just found your blog today, and I had to let you know that my husband comforted me with thoughts similar to the spirit baby you described. It helped me greatly and being reminded helps me still. Thank you and my thoughts are with you.

JuliaS said...

Peace on this day for you - those days that mark what should have been can be hard sometimes.

Katie said...

My husband also believes in spirit babies, although he had a slightly less poetic way of explaining it. When we lost our fifth baby, he said it would come back. Now pregnant for the seventh time, I feel as if that spirit has come back to me, somehow.

I am sorry for your loss and am glad that you feel that passing the due date can bring you some peace. I know that it did for me.

HeidiM said...

Thanks for sharing this, it's a beautiful excerpt. I read Journey of Souls about 10 years ago, it's on past life regression, and it definitely made me think outside of my comfort zone spirituality-wise. Now ideas like spirit babies seem plausible and comforting.

My due date would have been 4/3 with my 1st IVF. Anniversaries and could-have-been-due-dates are hard.

SarahSews said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. The due date of my last m/c is approaching and I've been wondering about it and how it'll feel.

The passage about spirit babies had me crying in my cube though. I got pregnant again right after that last miscarriage and wondering what we were missing while also being so very thankful for the current little one has been strange. I kept thinking of them as two very different beings -- in fact one as a girl and one as a boy. But the idea that he got to cut in line to come next makes me feel better -- at least he is still on his way.

Sending you peace.

Anonymous said...

My Spirit Baby is having a hard time getting to me. I am so glad to know it will keep trying. i love your post and the beautiful story. Thank you.
I'm sorry you had a loss as well. Here's to the future!!