November’s been a struggle now for the past few years.
In 2014, I was newly pregnant for the first time and we celebrated Thanksgiving by renting an Airbnb and rock climbing in Joshua Tree. But I felt deep in my bones that something was wrong with the pregnancy. Less than a month later, Boxing Day brought the knowledge of a missed miscarriage. I spent New Years Eve eve recovering from a D&C and most of 2015 in grief.
November 2015 seemed to be off to a better start, but closed with another loss, a miscarriage at home the weekend before Thanksgiving. That Monday, H and I took off from work and went out for donuts before my doctor’s appointment. We spent Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. We went camping and made up a small ceremony to say goodbye to the baby we lost.
I looked forward to November of this year with anticipation and worry. Our third pregnancy, the one that was progressing normally (minus my pure anxiety b/c of pregnancy after loss), had a due date of October 24. Our parents made travel plans to visit week by week in November. H and I put in paperwork for leave. We figured we’d have our baby by Halloween and then spend a full week at home in bed, lounging, cuddling and becoming a family of three.
But what’s the saying, the best laid plans…?
Baby girl took her sweet time and didn’t kick us into labor until October 29. By then, H and I were frazzled as the deadline for induction loomed. That first day of labor, a Saturday that involved H going to play hockey and a friend dropping by with breakfast burritos, picked up quickly. 2pm contractions 20 minutes apart quickly became 5pm with contractions 7 minutes apart until I dissolved into laborland, not to return to reality until almost noon the next day.
Baby A was born on a Sunday, whisked away to the NICU, and spent the next 9 days there. When I was discharged without her. We had to drive home with an empty car seat. We didn’t hold her for the first 4 days of her life, didn’t have a chance to fully try breastfeeding until she was already a week old. It felt like each day my heart broke again.
I remember back in October, very pregnant and cooking batches of ham and potato soup the night of the second presidential debates, telling H that we’d remember this – where we were, what we were doing – because this would be the last official scenario that needed to play out if Trump ended up succeeding. We’d have to explain this whole political shift to our daughter.
On election day, we finally brought Baby A home.
The fact that my personal trial of a daughter in the NICU overlapping the first female presidential nominee losing the election is almost too much to comprehend. 6, 8, 10 weeks into her life, I still didn’t have the energy to face the current socio-political state.
How can this be? I keep asking myself.
And yet, here we are. Baby A turned 12 weeks old and Donald Trump took the oath for presidency. Thousands of people marched in support of civil rights and I stayed home with my newborn. Baby A refused to take a bottle and Trump refuses to tell the truth. H and I find our new parent anxiety overlapping this new presidential reality. We’re seeking advice about the baby’s bottle strike while scrolling through the news on our iPhones in the dark after she goes to bed. We’re trying to make time to listen to NPR’s Politics podcast and discuss what we’ve each heard throughout the day, without a dark cloud hovering over the dinner table. We’re realizing that we could’ve done more and we did all we could.
Now here we are almost half-way through February and I don’t look at the news. I can’t. It creates such a rage, such pain in my body, that my ability to think clearly disappears. Instead, I watch Byron Katie talk people through their fears and anger about Trump. I question my own thoughts and try to send prayers of hope up instead of panic worry. I signed up for Daily Action, which keeps me looped in to one issue and one action per day. Sometimes I make calls, sometimes I don’t. I send messages to friends who are new mom b/c I know how dark that time can be. I can feel the grief and panic of our culture pinging off the grief and frustration of my journey to get here, to being a mom. Activism can look like all sorts of things (some of which I hope to share in another post), but right now, raising a child that can help heal the world is my long game.
The care of my daughter, my being her mother, is the priority.
It always has been.