My new fertility acupuncturist recently suggested that I have post-traumatic stress disorder, and it was oddly relieving to hear. It validates my experience and makes me feel a little less crazy, somehow, for my extreme reactions to the things I’m most afraid of. (Now, for my fellow social workers – would I officially fit the DSM-IV diagnosis for PTSD? Maybe not. But it is the most accurate description that I can come up with for my neurosis, so go with it.) Experiences or emotions that bring me back to the traumatic event of losing my first baby hit me harder than they would a normal, unscarred pregnant woman. For example, the day I learned I was pregnant (this time), I started spotting for several hours — and it sent me into a tailspin. I was certain that just as quickly as I’d gotten relief and felt the joy, it was being ripped away from me. And then the spotting resolved, and hasn’t come back.
This week, I was going along just fine, feeling slightly tired and occasional waves of nausea. Not much, but a couple times a day, I’d get a comforting reminder that things were happening inside. And then it stopped. For two days, nothing. I felt completely normal, completely un-pregnant, and so I melted down. I sobbed my way through Thursday. On the phone with my best friend, with my co-worker, and again on the phone with my doctor’s office (who told me what I logically knew – pregnancy symptoms come and go and are not a reliable indicator of what’s going on with your baby). I couldn’t help but think the worst. I couldn’t help but envision going into the doctor’s office and looking at the ultrasound holding John’s hand. Waiting for a heartbeat, but seeing nothing. It happened before. And now, the fear of reliving that grief consumed me. I could not release myself from its grip on my heart.
Searching for peace, I was reminded of a Bible verse that says (depending on which version you’re referencing): Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.
What we cannot see exists. Isn’t that the mystery of pregnancy? There is a magical, miniscule process that happens in the depths of our body, and we are not a witness to it. We cannot feel it, cannot see it for so long. Awesome things are happening, moment by moment, and we just have to believe that it exists. We are left to our faith.
I just don’t know why faith is so hard for me. Is it the control issues again? The unrelenting, underlying fear of being broken by pain? Do I not believe that I deserve good things? I want so much to savor this pregnancy. To not wish it away by yearning for the next stage or the next ultrasound. Because that’s about me and my neurosis. Needing to be reassured by what I can see or feel or know. Instead it should be about becoming a mother who lives with peace, serenity and trust. Perhaps it’s not pain and suffering, but getting just what I’ve always wanted, that will be the greatest test of my faith.
By the way – my prayers were answered and my nausea has returned full force. I’d say it’s a lesson to be careful what you wish for, but I can’t pretend that feeling awful doesn’t make me feel much better.