I have a terrible memory. It’s a part of my identity and I get teased about it pretty much every time my whole family gets together. My mom jokes that rather than wasting money on vacations, summer camps and trips she should have just raised me in a cardboard box because I’d never know the difference.
Some things I remember. For example, I remember the Christmas I was nine. Every Christmas all of my mom’s brothers and sisters and my grandmother come and stay over at our house for a huge dinner and gift exchange. My parents don’t typically give each other gifts (usually my mom just buys herself what she really wants and says to my Dad, “Look at this gorgeous bracelet you bought me!”), but that year my mom had a special one for my dad. She gave him a pair of white baby booties in a little box with a bullet taped to it. I didn’t get the reference at the time (you know what? I still don’t really get it) but everyone congratulating them clued me in to what was going on. I can still see her perfectly, sandwiched in between people on the couch and wearing an oversized green sweatshirt. She had a content little smile on her face. Even at the time I was excited and thought it was such a fun way to announce a pregnancy. I pictured doing something similar in the future (because yes, I was a crazy nine-year-old who thought about shit like that).
Unfortunately, that turned out to be her first miscarriage. She was 13 weeks when she lost the baby. I remember that day, too – I remember she had to go through labor in her bedroom with just my dad helping her. I remember being downstairs in the living room humming to myself because it was so traumatic to hear. I remember being scared and sad and feeling like my heart was breaking for her, and for my whole family.
Funerals are very expensive and money was tight in those days, but she was far enough along that we had something to bury. So on a cold winter’s day my parents loaded us kids into the car and made us bring our sleds so it looked like an innocent day of recreation. We went to the local cemetery with our sled decoys and a big shovel and buried my little lost sibling under a tree. I remember feeling freaked out because we were breaking the rules and I was (and still am) such a rules follower. I still drive by that spot all the time and say a little remembrance prayer every time that I do.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I never thought I would survive a miscarriage. Now that I’ve survived not just one, but two, I am convinced that I could never survive a late term miscarriage (P.S. universe: that is an observation, not a challenge). I can’t even imagine going through labor and delivery knowing that my baby was already gone. Passing tissue is bad enough. I simply cannot fathom more than that. To all you women who have survived it, I am in awe of your strength.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I keep stressing out over calming down. I think part of the problem is that anxiety is more than just a lifestyle choice; it’s also part of what makes me who I am. I’m not a calm, mellow, live-and-let-live kind of person. Fundamentally, I am highly emotional and dramatic. I’ve always been this way. I crave extreme emotions and yes, even drama. I thrive on stress and equate it with excitement. Sure, I could do yoga and try to be Zen. But would I still feel like myself? Would I still be Amanda? I’ve been who I am for so long that I’m scared of changing. Of course I would change, and medicate and be peaceful if it meant a successful pregnancy. But it’s still not guaranteed. And sacrificing who I am in the process, is that really even worth it? Do I have to change to stay pregnant?
Sorry for all the sad stuff again. I just have so much going through my mind and I’m trying to process it. I was texting my mom earlier just to confirm the details on everything since my memory is so fickle and she admitted that she buried the details on all this for a long time, so I actually remembered more than she did. It was pretty shocking since we are an extremely non-repressive family. It made me feel bad for bringing it up at all. But then she told me that over time, pain fades. It seems impossible, but I guess it must be true. I’m looking forward to the day when this is all a sad, faraway memory of a long time ago.
Today is my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary. They have been through SO much, but they still ended up together, and happy, and with all the kids they wanted. I can only hope to be that happy and content with the way life worked out one day.