It has been a strange weekend.
I’m here in the middle of something bigger than myself, in the midst of cycles older than time – life and death, beginnings and ends – events are converging around me and I’m sitting here in the middle alternating between despair and euphoria and a kind of contented numbness.
My days are split between doctors appointments and updates back and forth from the East and me sitting in silence rubbing my belly; thinking, thinking.
We met with our midwife this morning and talked about how to keep this babe in for as long as possible. We talked about surgery and sudden bleeds and anesthesia and whether or not I’d be able to hold my child after it’s born.
We talked about lung development and the NICU and if I’d be able to breastfeed. I felt like crying but I didn’t.
As we sat there speaking about this birth, this rather rocky beginning to a new life, half of my mind was listening for my phone, half of my being was devoted to the knowledge that my grandmother is dying in a hospital in Toronto.
I completed a standard screening questionnaire for postpartum depression. It asked “Have you found yourself crying for no good reason?” and I sat and stared at that question in all of its black and white.
No, I decided as I checked the box, not for no good reason.
I have been crying, I mean, but for very good reason. For of life and death, for the gossamer-thin line separating the two.
Life and death, beginnings and ends.
My days lately have been consumed by how to best bring one new life into this world, how to best give an old one the divine exit she deserves.
I’m woken by raucous kicking, a happy celebration of movement from within, and while trying to get back to sleep I read the latest updates about my grandmother’s condition, the gradual slowing down of her body before it stops.
We’re just waiting for it it stop.
I’m writing back and forth with my siblings to coordinate two journeys, one to a funeral in Toronto, the other to see the new baby at Thanksgiving. I am trying to coordinate both but unable to fully participate in either.
I’m not allowed to fly. Not allowed to leave the city. I won’t be able to see my grandmother before she dies, nor will I be able to attend her funeral. As I sit here trying to figure out accommodations for my family over Thanksgiving I have no idea if I’ll have a baby by then, if I’ll be in the hospital or out. Cut open or still whole.
And despite how maudlin this all sounds, how great the uncertainty and how huge these two disparate events are, I’m not depressed. I’m not filled with overwhelming sadness.
I’m just sort of here. Waiting. I feel like I’ve reached a strange place where so much control has been taken from me that I’m just waiting to see what happens next. This whole journey has turned from something I felt I had agency over and important decisions to make, to this huge undertaking where my body isn’t working the way it should and therefore its responsibilities have been put in the hands of others. Doctors, specialists, dieticians, surgeons. I’m just sitting in the centre of all of this bustling activity, waiting. Praying to a god I’m not sure exists.
The most bizarre part is how I still feel so happy. In between the bad news and the roadblocks, after each new appointment which seems to bring with it another complication, another what-if turned reality, I am still so very, very happy.
(Perhaps strangely), I wouldn’t characterize this pregnancy as “difficult”. Adam agrees. Despite the kidney condition and the placenta previa and the gestational diabetes and the c-section. Despite it all, throughout it all (and yes now, even now) I have felt a swelling sense of joy and anticipation. Hopeful happiness. I have felt good, I still feel good. I have loved virtually ever second of this experience, this feeling. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere about losing control, about the futility of planning. I’m spending a lot of time trying to learn it, studying it from all angles, ruminating.
I’m ending up with a birth experience that is almost funny in how diametrically opposed it is to what I had hoped for when I began, but I’m strangely alright with that. My entire being is just focused on how I can do my best, do the most I can to make sure that in seven weeks (or six, or five, we really don’t know but we’re hoping seven, please god let us just make it just seven more weeks) I will hold my baby in my arms and see those eyes fixate on my face, this strange little half-person, a stranger but so familiar. This tiny amalgamation of Adam and I.
I’m in the thick of it.
And my grandmother. I think of her slowly fading, disappearing bit by bit. She was admitted to the hospital on Friday, my mum flew out on the weekend and now we’re all just waiting.
Random memories of her keep flitting to the surface; her giving us her old lipsticks to play with when we were little, how when she hugged you she’d slap your back so hard it hurt, how when something was really good it wasn’t just great, it was divine.
I think of her at our wedding, hearing her voice when we told her that I was pregnant. I’m heartbroken that she won’t get to meet her great grandchild. It kills me that I won’t be there to say goodbye.
I think about when I visited her last summer. I wrote that as I hugged her goodbye I thought to myself “I will never see you again.” I think about how I didn’t. I won’t.
I think about my mum telling me how my Granddaddy tried to explain to his wife of over sixty years why he was removing her respirator. Needing her to hear him, to understand, to forgive. I think of the helplessness he must be feeling, the aching solitude of seeing his girl slip away.
Oh god it’s strange, this feeling. This swirling mass of euphoria and despair. Contented numbness. This waiting.