MJ told me she was pregnant on January 2. It marked the fifth time in as many years she uttered those words. Yet we only have one child.
The realization we’ve successfully created human life just doesn’t bring about as much joy as it used to. After three miscarriages, how could it? I still remember the first time MJ dropped the news on me. It was Jan. 19, 2007 and I was about to travel to Indianapolis to watch my Patriots play the Colts in the AFC Championship game. We were having dinner at a little place called The Mockingbird and MJ slid a bag across the table. It contained the cutest, tiniest little Red Sox jersey you’ve ever seen in your life. Because I am a RAGING idiot, I didn’t understand what was happening.
Then she slid what looked like a thermometer across the table, which had just one word digitally inscribed on it: “PREGNANT.”
After five seconds of stunned silence, I suddenly shrieked. It wasn’t a yell or a manly barbaric yawp, it was a shriek. I had no control over the shrill, odd little noise that emanated from my mouth, I just couldn’t hold in all my love and excitement, and that was the noise I made. I bolted up from my seat, ran to her side of the table and mauled her. Then I shouted “I’M GONNA BE A DAD!!!!” to a restaurant full of strangers. Some clapped while others sneered, but I was all smiles. I was on a legitimate high and nothing could bring me down.
Maybe the outcome of the Colts-Patriots game that weekend should’ve been an indicator of things to come.
We lost that baby. Then we lost the next one too. When MJ told me she was pregnant with Will, I think my response was something like “Cool. But let’s not get our hopes up.” After losing Alex last summer, that feeling of dread and anxiety has only been heightened. We’ve had three miscarriages and one successful pregnancy. Those aren’t great numbers and I feel now the odds are stacked against us.
That may be the most nefarious part of miscarriages that no one seems to talk about. The effect they have on future pregnancies. The way they linger in your mind like a fart after someone leaves the room, attaching itself to everything and snuffing out all the joy from what should be a thrilling moment.
That’s what I felt when MJ told me she was pregnant again on Jan. 2. It was more of a “here we go again” sentiment, as I thought about the next few months and the sickening waiting game that inevitably occurs when you’ve suffered the loss of multiple pregnancies.
“Are you spotting? What color?”
“Do you feel OK? What do you mean you just ‘don’t feel right?'”
“Should we call the doctor?”
Basically I’m like the world’s most pessimistic hypochondriac at this point. I cringe every morning when MJ goes to the bathroom for fear of seeing her weeping over a blood clot in the toilet. Or the heartbreak and panic we’ll feel if she gets off the couch and there’s a dark red stain there.
The question of whether or not to even tell people about the baby is a whole other awful topic.
Some people spread the news immediately with no fear and reckless abandon. Others stick to a 12-week rule, which calls for keeping quiet about things until the 3-month mark of the pregnancy, at which point the risk of miscarriage drops precipitously. We’ve gone both routes, and they’re both painful.
This time around we both agreed to wait. Prudence and caution should be exercised with our precarious past in mind. But then a funny thing happened.
I got tired of the dread. Of the worry. The moroseness. And suddenly I realized this is a joyous occasion for us dammit! We need to be happy. Hell, some people can’t even get pregnant. At least we’re getting a chance, other people never even get that far. I realized it’s important to celebrate the victories when they’re still victories, even if they might turn into a defeat down the road.
We could very well lose this baby. We have an ultrasound on Friday so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. And yes, that thought is always lurking in the back of my mind. That’s just how it is now. But I’m happy about this baby. I’m excited about this baby. And in the end, we decided to tell everyone about the baby because people are always happy to hear good news.
Will it be painful if we have to make the unpleasant announcement that we lost it, hell yes. But that pain is going to be there no matter what. The real tragedy would be if the sadness of the loss was preceded by anxiety and pessimism, instead of joy and exhilaration at the news of new life.
September 11, 2011. Can’t wait to meet you kid!