You eventually get over everything. You never get over anything ever.
This is a thought that’s been spinning round my mind since my usual four-am insomnia bout. I was thinking (as I tend to do several times a day) about losing the baby. I think about it because I think I’m trying to prepare for it.
A loss before 20 weeks is called a miscarriage. Regardless of where it is in that time frame. There’s something I don’t quite like in that, but I also don’t really agree with quantifying the impact of a pregnancy loss based on how developed your fetus was at the time of loss. We lost Aramis at 8 weeks and there have been few things as devastating to me. Other people are similarly ravaged by what’s sometimes termed a “chemical pregnancy” where you get a positive test, followed some time later by a negative one. Maybe there was a heartbeat, but you never saw it confirmed.
A loss after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth. I don’t really like that term either. But I don’t suppose it’s the words themselves that are causing the problems. It’s the whole upsetting, untalked about thing.
But here’s the thing I really don’t like – in this country, if you have a loss between 20 and 24 weeks you’re not entitled to time off beyond medical time off. If you happen to lose your baby anytime from 24 weeks, then it’s full maternity leave. And still called maternity leave which probably feels weird.
I guess legislation just needs a line, and they’ve stuck that line at “viability”.
But I can feel my twitchy little bubble starting his first kicks and rolls already. Right now, even as I type here. It’s delightful and terrifying. Because everything that makes it more real makes me more attached and more protective and more anxious about how I’d cope if I lost him now.
But you get over everything. Eventually. With enough time and enough change and enough of life rushing in to fill all the gaps, you just move on and get on with things.
But you never really get over anything. Even the smallest trauma leaves its scars on you.
Then again, maybe what it does is that it changes you into the kind of person who can cope with what you’ve experienced. I’m the kind of person now who can cope with the loss of a pregnancy. At least one at 8 weeks. But am I the kind of person who can cope with a loss at 18 weeks or later? Am I the type who can cope with the loss of a husband or a child.
Actually, I think I am, I think I could.
Except it would kill me first.
I think that’s what happens with the truly big traumas in our lives. They just change you so very much that the you who comes out the other side isn’t actually the you who went into it. Can’t say if it’s a change for better or worse, but it’s change and you’re different now and you can never be a person who hasn’t lived through what you’ve lived through.
Even an accumulation of small traumas probably does something similar. Death by a thousand cuts. Scar layered upon scar until in the end your original features are unrecognisable.
I don’t recognise the person I was as a teenager or in my twenties. I find it hard to reconcile some of their actions with choices I would make now. The closest I can come is sort of “remembering” how I felt and how I chose to act back then, but even at that, it’s pretty hard. I don’t always feel an empathetic connection to the person I’ve been at times in my life.
It’s a bit weird and I wonder if other people feel like that.
I feel like that Tindersticks song “Travelling Light” sometimes: places I don’t remember, times, dates and people who mean nothing to me now.
The past is another country, and sometimes I visit there and ruminate. Sometimes I sit with old photos and get pulled into nostalgia. But then I get up and walk away and it’s just fine.
Apart from at four in the am, when my brain is spinning up any old junky stories it can to stop me from going back to sleep, and I travel down old paths and imagine the roads not taken.
But that’s only for the parts of the past that still have some emotional resonance for me. Or maybe it’s that they had little enough at the time to not kill off the part of me that connected to them.
Do you travel light?