Some of you may be wondering why I haven't been writing more about progress on my letterpress project and my arts grant. That's because there has been no progress. Why?
Ok. Get comfortable. This has taken me a few days to write, and I'm going to break it down a bit.
The day that I got the envelope containing my good news about the grant, I also peed on a pregnancy test and got two blue lines. I have to admit, I cried. And oddly enough, not with joy.
I don't know how much you've read back over my archives; I've got a bit of a history of reproductive problems. I gave a quick linkfest a couple of posts ago, on my wedding anniversary. This pregnancy is around the same timing as the last one, give or take a few weeks. This is the 9th week, whereas this time two years ago it was the 7th week.
I'm ambivalent about having another child. On the one hand, there's my lovely man, who would make such a fantastic father, and who is already a fantastic stepfather and uncle. On the other hand, I'm 39, and I've just managed to get to a point in my life when the next 12 months will allow me to achieve something to be proud of professionally, rather than helping other people achieve their goals.
But hey? When nature calls, even at an inopportune time, it's probably best to accept what is happening and make the most of it. Especially when everyone around you gets so excited and happy for you.
For the first few weeks I really had to fight off depression. I felt cranky that the only way we could add to our family involved my body, and my time and energy. I kept wishing that Best Beloved could be the pregnant one (nice thought, but I tell you this, in a classic female way, that if men ever worked out how to have babies I'd be first in line to protest about it). All I could think about was the lousy timing, and how I was poised to start printing, but then it all had to stop.
And everything HAD to stop; I'm really bad at pregnancy, and luckily had my name down with a specialist who started giving me blood tests every few days and hormone supplements. He told me I can't travel more than 2 hours, which put the kybosh on going to Woodford, and advised against riding my bike and walking too much. Printing, with its physical demands and reliance on solvents for cleanup, is definitely OUT. I've spent the last few weeks driving (oh, the petrol prices!) and sitting in front of the computer, sulking. Your blogs have kept me sane, truly.
Last week I started coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant. I realised that I can use the grant money, buy all the materials and get the artists involved working on their images, make the polymer plates (it's a pretty harmless technology), and then have everything in place to print later next year. I'm sure the Arts Board wouldn't mind granting me a slight extension.
I talked to my boss at the art school, and she was very supportive about a change of plans for the BookStud next year. And I could always work on my bookbinding skills, which don't involve a lot of standing up.
Best Beloved and I started talking about what to do about our tiny house: do we extend or move? We made an appointment with a nice real estate agent we'd bumped into to discuss how much our house would be worth, to help us decide. I know it's early days, but I know people who have their babies in amongst the builders' dust, or amidst packing boxes; it pays to plan ahead.
Actually, I started to feel quite jolly. Morning sickness was kicking in, and my boobs felt like bursting, but that's just the fun of sprogging.
And then I had an ultrasound last Friday, and encountered a familiar worried look on the face of the technician. Are you sure about your dates? is a question that makes your heart sink, especially when you've been there before. And yes, I was very sure of my dates.
From that moment everything went poo-shaped. It's amazing how fast you can go from feeling like you you're doing something special with your body to feeling like your body is just a mutant visitor from Planet Defect. It took moments. Suddenly you're not a fertile goddess, you're a failure. There was the black blobby sac floating on the screen, tucked in a nice safe place between three ravenous fibroids, but there was nothing happening inside it. Well, there was, but it wasn't alive. In fact, it had stopped about three weeks before, but my body was convinced it was still pregnant. It still is. But instead of feeling nauseous in the morning and knowing that it's for a purpose, now I wake up and feel nauseous and then feel nauseous about feeling nauseous. Just like last time.
Since Friday I've been pretty numb, apart from some pretty full-on crying in the car. I find the car is the best place to be a watery tart, probably for the same reasons that men like to talk sideways about serious issues -- you know, while they're gardening, or washing up. I can sob but stay in control, and that feels valid. Until you stop at the traffic lights and look sideways and realise that the people next to you can see you with snot and tears all over you. And they are always looking, probably because I have a wildly-painted car. Bugger. Lying on a bed crying just feels like I'm indulging myself too much. I know, go figure. It's not like I don't indulge myself in other ways.
Things I've done in the past few days to escape reality and feel better:
Videos: The Razor's Edge (1946 version, of course); the second series of Extras; Catching up on West Wing; Hairspray.
Music: Tim Buckley, new mashups by Arty Fufkin (great timing, thanks), Johnny Cash's American III.
Reading: Jasper Fforde, trash magazines, blogs, Anne Tyler.
Imbibing: wine, cider, chocolate, salami, soft cheese.
Have I ever told you how much I like Anne Tyler's fiction? Her books have a certain emotional space in them, and are peopled by characters who have been emotionally damaged in different ways; they tend to live quietly within themselves until she finds them a reason to come alive again. Each novel is a gentle lesson in internal survival and renewed hope. I go through phases of needing to read them. Now is one of those times. If you haven't read one, I recommend starting with either The Clock Winder or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Or The Accidental Tourist, but read it before you see the movie version.
I'm not telling this tale to get your sympathy, because I'm getting weary of casting myself as a person needing pity. I'm really starting to understand (although really, universe, I got the lesson at least 20 years ago. RLY.) that there is no quota for painful experiences. I know that there are many women out there who go through this, and go through it over and over in their quest for children. I saw many of them at the fertility clinic I was visiting for my blood tests, and I felt so sorry for them, with their looks of quiet, dignified and painful optimism. One day I went in and the place was full to standing-room only, and that air of suspense was palpable. When I asked about the crowd, I was told it was 'embryo implantation day'. Sigh. Poor girls.
I know that women go through miscarriages all the time. And they keep trying, which has my admiration. Or they stop, which has my utter understanding. I'm not trying again.
Actually, I'm telling this tale at this point in time because tomorrow morning at 10am I'm going under the knife to get Wellsley Giblet (see, we'd nicknamed it already!) scraped out.* And I'm scared. I want lots of blog-reading good vibes to steady that surgeon's hand and keep me safe. Last time a stupid doctor perforated me three times, and I bled for two months. This is a different hospital, a more experienced doctor, but the same soft mutant fibroid-filled womb. It should only be a day-visit, and I should feel better in a day or two. If all goes well.
Wish me luck.
*Actually, there's a tale here as well. This is the perfect situation for a drug like RU-486, when an abortion is needed and there's no live baby to kill. BUT. Because it was not available last time, I was D&C'd, roughly, and thus was perforated. It still isn't available now, but even if it was, I wouldn't be able to use it because the strong crampings might reopen the perforations from last time. GAH! Thanks, Mr Abbott. It's all your fault I'm going under the knife again. Put that in your pipe and stick it where the sun don't shine.