What has shocked me the most about our loss is how unshocking losing this pregnancy was, despite the fact that everything was going so well until it wasn't. I remember when I was little, whenever something I deemed to be very important occurred, I divided my life into the before and after based around that single event. Inevitably, I would find the after incredibly depressing - the let-down after a big trip or significant event and all of the anticipation that led up to it.
When I first became pregnant and then later when we learned that our baby didn't have a heartbeat, I came to believe that these events would be the same - defining points against which everything that followed would be subsequently measured - separations differentiating the old before from the new after. Perhaps if my pregnancy had been healthy and marked the beginning of the life of a child we brought into this world alive and into our arms, this would have been true. Instead, I have found it surprising that the loss hasn't really felt like a defining point at all.
Perhaps it's because I spent so long hoping and praying to be pregnant and comparatively so little time actually pregnant (just shy of 8 weeks when I was admitted to the hospital for Cytotec), but the pregnancy itself feels like a strange but hopeful dream I had for 10 minutes one night. Now that its been a week since the miscarriage, nothing about the pregnancy feels real anymore. More accurately, I've been asking myself, did it ever feel real?
Not really. In fact, the whole time I was pregnant, I felt like an impostor. Part of me could never actually believe it was true or that it finally happened. I kept repeating over and over again to myself, to Y, to anyone who knew and would listen, really, that it was too good to be true.
Sure, I clumsily stumbled through all the motions of being pregnant. I was starving for lunch every day at 10:30am and ready to go to sleep at 7. My breasts increased a full cup size and I finally worked up the courage to buy a copy of The Book - What to Expect When You're Expecting, which lay splayed open proudly on the couch, not tucked away in a drawer like infertility books. I ordered cooked salmon maki and veggie rolls at sushi and sipped Cokes and Shirley Temples at our friends' wedding. I turned down wine, quit coffee cold turkey, and when the bloat made it impossible to comfortably wear jeans, invested in 2 pairs of elasticized maternity pants. I secretly enjoyed it when people would stare down at my protuding little belly (in reality more bloat than bump) and wonder.
On the outside, I acted like someone who believed she would have a take-home baby and yet on the inside, I was just an opportunist - a little kid version of myself who wanted to take full advantage of this longed-for virtual reality experience before school was back in session.
That's because in reality, I felt like a nine-year-old girl who wants to be an astronaut when she grows up more than anything else in the world. Finally, she gets to go to space camp. She is delighted and squealing with excitement- how lucky she is to get such an authentic experience! But even as a young girl, she still knows in the back of her head that this is just make-believe, a token or morsel of her real dream. This is all a high-tech stimulation - she has yet to see the moon.
And so, ultimately, my brush with pregnancy amounted to a few weeks at space camp. In the end, the only moment of my pregnancy that stands out in my mind as being real was lying on the crinkly paper of that ultrasound table with three technicians and one doctor crowded around me, nodding and talking to each other about the body on the table and the image of a womb on a screen, not a single word uttered to me.
That's when I knew that my time at space camp was through. Catapulted back to the reality of Earth, I was no longer an astronaut or mom-to-be, but an infertile finally pregnant, but with a baby without a heartbeat. All of those prayers and wishes and dreams for that miraculous ball of cells, that splendid little life growing inside me, slipping further and further from my reach, like so many dreams of outer space or Orion descending. I am here in Jerusalem, Israel, Planet Earth. I am 238857 miles from the moon.