Not All Stories

I wanted to have a baby in April 2011. I didn’t want to talk about it with Robert or be pregnant or watch a child grow into an adult. I just wanted a baby in my arms. This desire burned like a fever all summer and then it started to fade. By November all my maternal instincts froze or went into hibernation or paled next to all the more interesting things I had to do. I attributed all of this to hormones and decided to decide on babies with my brain, and my partner. I think this was a good decision.

The day after we looked at a positive pregnancy test and Robert screamed into a pillow and I spent all day on the computer reading miscarriage statistics and symptoms, we hesitantly celebrated by driving to our favorite coffee shop in Evanston where I ordered a lox bagel, even though I knew that smoked fish was high on the list of things that pregnant women don’t get to do. I swapped my usual caffeinated beverage for an herbal tea, though, because pregnant women make sacrifices and I’m telling you that I did this because I want you to think I am a good person.

At my first doctor’s appointment the nurse with the clinical tone asked for the date of my last period and then asked if we were keeping the fetus. I said yes, because there was no question, but I was so glad she asked. Later, the nurse practitioner with the shiny hair and smiley teeth came into and said, “Congratulations!” I didn’t know what to say back, but I was so glad for her warmth. I went home and thought about how pregnancy, even early pregnancy with all it’s horrifying risk of loss, made me even more ardently pro choice than I was before, and I never posted about it on this blog, even though I wanted to.

We heard the heart beat at 11 weeks. At 14 the heartbeat went missing and my OB sent us to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound. I got a plastic hospital bracelet and prescription slip that said “No FHB. Confirm viability.” and I sobbed heavy heaving sobs until suddenly I stopped and knew I needed to show Robert that everything would be okay, even if it wasn’t. I still quake before every appointment. I still worry every day.

At 18 weeks we switched practices and the new OB told me that I could eat sushi and smoked fish and runny eggs and stinky cheese and artificial sugars and so I did.

At 18 weeks we found out we’re having a girl.

At 19 weeks I spent too much money on maternity clothes and breathed a sigh of comfort and relief.

Robert felt the baby move at 24 weeks and breathed his own sigh of relief.

At 27 weeks I started to panic about raising a little girl by myself in a patriarchal religion. I don’t know who will bless or baptize her. I don’t know how to tell her that I don’t believe the things her religious leaders will say about girls and women are right or good. I don’t know how I will impress upon her that God loves girls as much as boys, or how I will explain that not all people do.

At 29 weeks people keep asking me how I’m feeling, which feels momentarily strange because I feel happy and healthy and fine, but it also feels really, really nice.

I spent seven months not writing here or anywhere about being pregnant because I don’t know how to give these events meaning yet. I’m a storyteller, and it’s hard to tell a story without reason or understanding or lessons learned. I think the stories will unfold one of these days or months or years and I don’t want to ruin them by writing them down prematurely all half-formed and short on joy. I don’t want to ruin them by sharing them with the world. But I also know that the best way to ruin a story is not to tell it at all.

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8 Responses to Not All Stories

  1. Kara McDowell says:

    I am glad that you finally decided to write about your baby on the blog. I was so hoping you would.

    I also think you should remember that not all of her religious leaders will tell her things that you don’t believe in. I try to be a good, positive, role model for strong women every single week in young womens. I tell them that their Heavenly Father loves them, and that they need to get an education, and that they can be whomever they want and do anything they want and that marriage is wonderful but they have so much time and so much to do before that gets here. I am trying to say things that are “right and good” and I think others are too.

    • Sandy says:

      Thanks! I will probably write more about the baby in the future, even though I used to hate it when blogs got all baby-centric (except yours, obviously). Also, thanks for the reminder that religious leaders are doing their best and that most of the church’s messages to boys and girls, men and women are wonderful. I’m a teacher too, and feel the same way as you about my calling. I should have been more specific that I think that some messages taught by some leaders are harmful;certainly they all aren’t. I hope Dylan will tune into the good the way I did growing up and tune out the bad. The problem is I don’t know what kind of kid she’s going to be, and if she’s the kind of kid who notices that boys are treated very differently from girls in certain ways and asks why, I don’t have good answers for her. And I think that many of the answers other people give are not right, or good. It may not be an issue at all, but I worry that it will be. Either way, I know that if all her local teachers are like you, she will be in good hands.

  2. My mom would always try to lessen the pressure I felt about having kids by referencing the unknown possibility that I could have difficulty getting pregnant. I didn’t realize my biggest challenge would be finding the right sperm donor. I think you’re right to be telling your story now. The story might be a different story later and that’s the way it goes. But, that was an intense title to see and then to start reading about a pregnancy.

    • Sandy says:

      Thanks for your frank comment. I didn’t think about how this title could be misleading. I feel badly about that because although I feel like not all pregnancy-related narratives are positive, I am aware that the one I’m living is about as positive as it gets, and I’m so grateful for that. It’s bizarre to me that everything related to fertility, including trying to have kids and actually having kids are so complicated, but the most common story is simple, straightforward excitement. Nothing is that simple. Your mom’s approach to taking the pressure off is interesting: smart in that it raises an issue every person should think about, but also seems like it could backfire and add way more pressure!

  3. Kara says:

    As always, thank you for your sincerity and honesty. I was reading this on the bus and tearing up – unsurprising. “I’m a storyteller, and it’s hard to tell a story without reason or understanding or lessons learned. I think the stories will unfold one of these days or months or years and I don’t want to ruin them by writing them down prematurely all half-formed and short on joy.” I loved this. Half formed and short on joy are just how some of the best stories go. Thanks for telling your story.

  4. Di says:

    I also was a little worried about the title.

    But I am glad to hear your story is a positive one. Congratulations, internet stranger!

  5. Ruth says:

    Oh sandy!! I am so thrilled you are going to have a little and relieved in not the only one worried about raising a girl… Boys are so easy! And while the first few months have an interesting learning curve, we just decided that we would continue to live our life the way we wanted, and funny enough it has worked out. I take Dustin with me to run all my errands, go to the gym, ran with him, and even brought him to patent teacher conference a few times. He was five weeks old when I took him to the movie theater and he slept through the whole thing. Went to a bunch of sporting events and did stuff with my sisters and even took it easy and napped whenever I felt the need 🙂 Take advantage of those early weeks when thy do sleep all the time an through anything. It’s awesome. Not sure it will be so easy with two kids to manage. Also so sorry about the no heartbeat scare… I’ve had a few scares and there is nothing on this earth as terrifying as thinking you lost your baby. Hopefully she’s moving around a lot for you to not have to worry so much. Only a few months left… Home stretch!!

  6. relakon says:

    I love this blog. I’m in a similar situation (though I think I’m a bit older than you). I’m an LDS feminist who struggles with many things inside the church. I married a wonderful non-LDS dude who loves football (and books!) and me. I’m 39 weeks pregnant with a little boy and am freaked out about navigating my religion with him. (Ward members are confused that I will still be working full-time after he’s born..sigh). The pressures on girls within the church is immense but I also worry about the pressures on boys within our faith. Anyway, I don’t know how all this will play out but I do know that I’m so happy to be where I am in life.

    Thanks for your blog. I love it! I write for a blog (don’t post very often since I’ve been knocked up) called ontheragmag.com with a few of my closest friends. It’s not a personal blog like yours, but reading yours has made me think I’d like to write a more personally-themed one. Anyway, enough gushing…just wanted to say thanks!

    Tawnya

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