the latest edition of "Tummymuffin TV" -- the monthly ultrasound a few days ago -- showed a squirmy, active, growth-right-on-track little boy with fat baby cheeks. of course this is exactly what we were supposed to see -- so why was there such a breathless feeling of surprise?
a very dear longtime friend recently was telling me about how his daughter, who is almost two years old now, was doing fine -- and he had the same tone of pleased surprise. you see, she was born right around this same time, at about 26 weeks. i think he put it well: "So much can go wrong," he said, "that when it goes right it feels like a miracle."
i wrote about this some time ago after losing Tummymuffin II and staring down the long dark tunnel of infertility, not yet being pregnant with Tummymuffin III. i talked about feeling that in a parallel world, normal people just get pregnant and have babies and are happy. but that "in my version of normal, it is a struggle to get pregnant and then maybe you're actually not going to have any babies...and if you actually do get pregnant...and actually do deliver a real live healthy child then it will be A TOTAL EXTRAORDINARY JAW-DROPPING MIRACLE for heaven's sake."
the truth is that after any pregnancy struggle and loss, there is a new normal. and that new normal isn't bad or wrong -- it's just different, and it's very personally yours. while the following fact may be disturbing to some, i actually find it comforting and invigorating to know that i literally can no longer miscarry this child. if TM4 were to be lost now, he would be considered a stillbirth -- meaning he would get a death certificate (and in this state, a special birth certificate if requested). there are no such certificates for miscarriages, and while my first three children will always be quite real to me, their "legitimacy" as such will always be potentially questioned by others. this is simply the way of it; i cannot hope to convince others that a few weeks of gestation make a difference to the recognized personhood of a baby. when people see my swelling belly and ask me if this is our first, i say no, but he will hopefully be our firstborn. i believe it's an important distinction, and just as my choosing to talk about the first three Tummymuffins openly is almost always met with positive response, so is this. when i said this to one of the pool ladies who asked the other day -- she grabbed my hands and said to me in her broken English, "Oh you are so happy! Because baby is so blessing! After you sad! He is so blessing!"
ah yes, i said. yes, he is so blessing.