Keeping My Guard Up

When we first considered having another child after Lentil died I was completely sure that I would want to find out the gender during scanning.  When Lentil died I felt like maybe I would have bonded with him better, would have known him better, if I’d known he was a boy.  Now we’re almost 23 weeks into the pregnancy with Pip and so far we haven’t found out whether we’re expecting a girl or a boy.  We have no preference either way, we just want a healthy baby and yet I’m desperate to know!

After Lentil died one of the things that got us through was thinking about the future.  We hadn’t finalised a name for Lentil and when he was born sleeping it didn’t seem right to give him a new name.  We’d always called him Lentil Bear so why change it?  After he died we settled on two names, one for a girl and one for a boy and we would often talk about the future and how one day these children that we had names for would be cheeky little troublemakers and we would get to watch them grow up.

These children, with the names that we’ve picked, are our future.  They are what has got us through, and they continue to get us through.  Before I was even pregnant with Pip we decided on a name to call our unborn child whilst in the womb.  I admitted to Paul that I was terrified of losing another child.  We needed a name for our unborn child that we could name him or her if the worst happened again.  I couldn’t bear the idea of giving one of the names of our future children to Pip and then losing him or her, losing that future dream that has got us through this far.  While Pip is inside me he or she will remain Pip.  If I know whether Pip is a girl or a boy I won’t be able to stop myself from giving him or her their real name.  I guess it’s keeping that little bit of protection for my heart.  

In reality I know that whatever we call Pip won’t make a difference if we don’t get to take him or her home.  Right now my experience of pregnancy is 9 months of an amazing mixture of joy, excitement and fear culminating in the greatest and most overwhelming mixture of happiness and sadness I’ve ever known.  Happiness at finally seeing the tiny person that we created together and immense sadness at the future we can’t share together.

I thought that it would be hard to bond with Pip, that I’d probably create a defensive barrier, be in denial about being pregnant at all but it’s impossible for me not to bond.  Possibly partly because I know this could be as much as I get.  There is no reason for anything to go wrong, the obstetrician tries to reassure me by telling me how incredibly unlucky we’d be for the same thing to happen again.  But we’ve already proved that incredibly unlucky happens, we were incredibly unlucky to lose Lentil in the way that we did.

I must sound so negative, I’m not.  I see my future with a happy, healthy Pip but my naivety has gone and I know that that may not be how this ends.  Pip has more clothes than I do, I hope for and wish for a future where Pip gets to wear them (maybe not the donated pink ones with bows and bunnies if Pip’s a boy).  I am so ready for Pip to join us (although please stay in there a while longer Pip, you’re not cooked yet) but I feel like there’s this little bit of me that expects the worst and finds it hard to let the guard down.

10 thoughts on “Keeping My Guard Up

  1. I was really scared about bonding with Max after having Amy. How could you possibly love someone else as much?! So I secretly found out that Max was a boy and told NO ONE! And I hate keeping secrets! Lol I felt that if I knew it would help me to bond with him. I can’t say if it did or not to be honest. I can’t wait to meet Pip and hear the news of his or her new name 😊 Although I’m sure pip might end up sticking as a nick name for a while 😜 Xx
    Ps. You made me cry AGAIN XX

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    1. I’m sure that Pip will be referred to as Pip for a very long time 😊 I was sure Pip was a girl but I’m starting to think maybe a boy. I do feel like I’ve bonded really well with Pip, I’m not sure knowing the gender would really make a difference except that we’d have even more clothes in the nursery! I just really want to know but I’m too scared to find out! Xxxx

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      1. What you could do, is ask the sonographer to write down the gender and pop it in an envelope. Take it home and put it on a shelf. You’ll never open it, but you’ll be that little closer to the answer 😊 Xx

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  2. I completely understand. In my case, I did find out the gender or my youngest child. Of course, I had three living children at that point so I partly wanted to know for practical reasons (division of bedrooms, could I get by with the hand-me-downs) but I also wanted to prepare myself emotionally. My stillborn baby was also a boy but I worried that knowing the rainbow baby was a boy might make me freak out about history repeating or that the new baby was a replacement of some kind and then I worried that having a girl would mean that the only way I had become the mother of a daughter was to have lost a son, as if it was some sort of trade off. They are bizarre and illogical thoughts as I write them now but, as you know, the thoughts and feelings of a bereaved mother – and a pregnant bereaved mother to boot – are not always logical.

    Since all of my previous children were male, I had to contend with comments about “getting a girl this time”. I am afraid I was not very diplomatic in handling these comments and would snarl at people that I did not give a flying fig whether my baby emerged as a green monkey so long as it was breathing. And I truly meant it. I had never had a preference for one gender over the other, always just delighted to be having a baby, and this was never more so acutely the case than when we had left the hospital empty handed, no baby coming home with us. Never had it felt more true than that a healthy baby was all that mattered.

    With my final pregnancy then, I did ask the sonographer to tell us the gender. I had known the gender in advance for two of my other sons, having spotted that there was a hot dog rather than a hamburger on the screen. Various complications and risk factors meant that I always had to have really thorough anomaly scans and was also repeatedly scanned in later pregnancy and that meant I had ample opportunity to accidentally spot the genitals. I could not see with my second son because he was a persistent breach with his legs in lotus position and I did not learn the gender of my stillborn son until he was delivered – though in both cases I had very strong feelings they were boys. I think that too was why I wanted to know in advance: because the last time I had had a “gender reveal” had been in such tragic circumstances.

    So clearly, while for some people knowing the gender in advance is all about decorating the nursery or picking out clothes, for some of us knowing the gender becomes a very delicate, acutely, emotive decision and one that is completely personal and individual.

    I will be honest and say that I struggled to bond with my youngest son when he was in utero. Although I did not know it until I was past the first trimester, I actually became pregnant with him just four weeks after the loss of my baby son. Our grief was still incredibly new and raw and we were hardly any steps along the bereavement journey and yet we had another pregnancy to contend with and wrap our heads around. We felt huge excitement and joy, of course, but it was tempered by near constant fear and anxiety. This was made much worse by the fact that my last pregnancy was complicated by several risk factors. There was never a point, until the baby was breathing in my arms, where I dared imagine that we would be bringing a healthy baby home with us.

    Anyway, I have gone and written a novel of a reply. I guess I just wanted to communicate that I understand what a tricky predicament it is, the whole gender thing, the bonding thing, and to congratulate you on having formed a bond with Pip. I very much look forward to reading all about Pip when he or she arrives.

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    1. We’re having loads of extra scans, partly because of my holt-oram syndrome and partly because I need the reassurance. I do find myself searching the screen for clues but so far Pip has been very shy and was breach at the last detailed scan so there was no chance of seeing anything even if we’d wanted to! Xx

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  3. I think I tried my hardest not to bond with this baby because I was so scared of losing it. That didn’t work at all! I find myself so in love with him and it’s terrifying! In a way I’m glad because I did initially worry I would struggle to love a second baby and it doesn’t look like that’s going to be a problem! Regardless of gender Pip is going to be one very loved little one with a very special big brother xx

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