Last night I had to resort to maternity pants. I cried as I pulled them on. Allyn hugged me tight, mourning with me. Just a week ago, I’d rejoiced at the need for these pants. Their presence marked newness and life. After Friday’s news, I’d hoped to avoid them, to pack them far away until a future when maybe life could grow again. But as it turns out, wind pants are not appropriate attire for all of St. Louis. And as much as I hoped that a pair of regular pants that fit appropriately would magically appear in the closet, none did. These pants with their stretchy panel mock me now. I summoned all the strength I could find — and all I could steal from my husband’s embrace. A pair of pants will not beat me. Wait—pants? Is this what it’s come to?
Everything I’ve read seems to indicate that once Avelyn exits the womb, my body should return to its pre-pregnancy shape fairly quickly. Some women have described how their hint-of-bump disappeared instantly as they watched. Given the early stage, as the uterus empties, it returns to size, allowing the abdomen to return to normal. “Normal.” I cringe as I type those letters, as if I can ever go back to the way things were before.
I also know that as much as I grieve the requirement of these maternity pants now, the moment I no longer need them I will mourn again—a new and different ache for the same might-have-beens.
I fear sometimes that life may already be returning to a “normal.” Next week I will need to return to my normal work schedule (I’ve been working about half of my usual hours this week) so that we can continue to pay our bills. I’ve pulled out my editing work to finish before Monday. I’m beginning to think in terms of meal plans, as the combination of reduced hours and more eating out is not helping our finances.
Deep down, I know these things do not mean that I’m not honoring Avelyn or that I’m forgetting — or even that I’m moving on. I merely have the early fears of letting go of the intense pain. Sometimes the pain is how I know that I’m still alive. The thought of one day being beyond that hurt is frightening. I need it.
And I know another wave is coming. Every now and then I feel light cramps that signal that maybe, just maybe this miscarriage will happen on its own. Just as I feel I need the emotional pain now, I also want the physical pain that I know will come with Avelyn—the contractions, the labor, the birthing. I need my body to feel what the rest of me has already experienced. I imagine these thoughts sound crazy to many. Perhaps they are.
Perhaps I also imagine that the physical pain in that moment will distract me from the physicality of what is happening. If I’m focusing on the pain, I can’t possibly remember that the pain is caused by my daughter taking leave of my body way before her time. Not that I can forget for long. Oh, that I could.
That sound? It’s nothing—just the laughter of the maternity pants.
Author’s note: This is the fourth in a series on pregnancy loss/miscarriage. Read the first post, “First ultrasound,” here.