The finish line

And just like that, the due date for pregnancy number three has passed.

In my head this was a big milestone. That somehow once it was behind us it would feel like freedom. Release. A neat conclusion to this over-long, unhappy chapter. The end. Fin.

But, of course, there is no finish line to this stuff.

I did not wake up on Tuesday morning and breathe a big, final sigh of relief. I didn’t swing open the shutters with open arms, ready to feel the sunshine on my face and embrace whatever’s coming our way next. I didn’t think ‘well, that’s that then’. I felt… the same.

I have written about due dates before – here and here – due dates that come and go with no baby and how that feels. In my head, before those dreaded dates arrived, I had always assumed they would be the worst days. But that hasn’t proved to be the case. There is sadness there, of course, but more than anything they are just sort of quiet. This was the first one I’ve been at work for, rather than at home, and while the practicalities are vastly different (no naps, for one) I felt the same strange quiet inside – somewhere between peace and resignation. Becalmed.

I’ve been trying very hard lately not to focus on the alternative lives I could be living. Reminding myself that my actual life is not the inferior carbon-copy left behind, however much it may feel that way sometimes.

But it is a hard habit to kick. You can try not to dwell on what might have been, but you still know.

For example, I still clam up whenever anyone in the office asks a question about the royal baby/when it’s due/how far along is Kate now (I work for a tabloid newspaper…this happens a lot). I stare stonily at my screen and don’t join in – though I always know the answers, I also know my response would be too lightning-quick. And then you’re faced with the possibility that the person who asked the question will remember – to their embarrassment/horror/awkwardness – the reason for your uncannily fast response. Or they won’t. Neither is particularly appealing.

Reaching what would have been your due date doesn’t change any of that background baby arithmetic. You may not automatically compare yourself with every pregnant woman in quite the same way, you may be out of the realm of bumps and baby-on-board badges, but those bumps become babies, and after that toddlers, and then children the age yours would have been. I don’t know when that stops – perhaps it never does.

I crossed another finish line recently. A literal one. At the London Landmarks Half Marathon. And it felt like, I’ve no other words for this, more of a big deal than the due date.

I cried as I crossed over it. Tears of sheer physical relief; tears of wonder at the many, many people out on the course, or cheering in the crowd, turning their story into hard-earned miles and charity cash. Tears of joy that I had done what I’d set out to do; that my body had achieved something after a year in which I felt it had failed me repeatedly. And tears of sadness (self-pity, even) that I had somehow ended up here. Willing myself to run 13 miles through central London on a drab Sunday morning in March, rather than being snuggled up at home with my newborn. Or out for a stroll with my eight month old in the pram. Or propped up on sofa, just about ready to pop.

But there were also, I realise now, tears because the second I stepped over that final chip-timer, I felt a bit lost. For a long time, I have been aiming only as far as the half-marathon. That was the horizon. The vanishing point. Weekends could be constructed around training plans and unhelpful thoughts chased away by long runs. Down days were boosted by a surprise donation on my Justgiving page (thank you if that was you, just thank you). Something to aim for, something to track and count, something I had control over.

And, of course, we had agreed we wouldn’t try again until after the race. We’d given ourselves a break to compose ourselves, after the third miscarriage, to steel our nerves and heal our hearts a little. It felt like such a long time to wait when we discussed it back in September – six months, six long wasted months in which a baby wasn’t even a possibility.

Now the break was over and I didn’t feel any more ready. Not really. I still felt terrified and broken. And I cried for that. That I hadn’t been able to outrun it. None of it. And now I didn’t know what was coming. I had no plan and by now I know better than to make one. What’s next? A fourth pregnancy. A fourth loss? Who can tell.

So, no, there is no finish line. But, we’ve come this far, I suppose.

Jennie, The Uterus Monologues, LLHM, half marathon, Tommy's fundraising
Finished, but where next?

8 Comments

  1. I’m nodding along to EVERYTHING. My due date is next week April 18th. I have been dreading the whole month. What strikes me is other people’s opinion of this… comments such as “oh once you have got over that horrible DD you will feel better” NO I WONT!
    At what point do you feel better? I am sure i never will.
    We will never be trying again and it is that, which I am finding very difficult to come to terms with. I think daily about those sliding doors, what I ‘should’ be doing now. I hope To find a different focus in my life and as you say live it, I don’t want to be the skin that is shed from it.
    As for mention of the royal baby, I just close up, walk away, I can’t bear it.
    I know my DD won’t be a remarkable day, no different from any other … it won’t bring closure, but I have to start living this life I have though. Maybe just not in April.

    Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sian, it’s frustrating that some people think there is some magical cut-off point at which you will feel fine again. There is so much to come to terms with – especially if you are not trying again. I really hope you do slowly start to feel a little better though. And I am praying I am on holiday when Royal baby arrives….! Look after yourself, Jennie xxx

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  2. Well done on completing the half marathon and raising so much money. That’s amazing!
    So much of what you’ve said resonates with me, the alternate reality version of yourself where your baby lived is a place I think of often. I’ve just suffered my third loss. I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to have one successful pregnancy, I didn’t appreciate just how lucky until now.
    I was wondering if you had a plan with your healthcare professionals for a 4th pregnancy? Have you had tests done to look for a cause? I’m asking as I’ve been referred to the recurrent miscarriage clinic and I’m wondering what may be in store and if I can even face another pregnancy and possible loss. I’m not sure I can take losing another, every time breaks my heart a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lynsey, I’m so sorry for your losses. I hope you are as OK as can be expected. We did have tests, and everything came back normal – which is a good thing, but didn’t necessarily feel like it at the time (I’ve written about it here if you’re interested:https://uterusmonologues.com/2018/02/19/no-news-is-good-news/ there’s another post explaining the process linked in there too.) I don’t know where you’re based, but for us – in London – they did a scan and lots of blood tests for clotting disorders, which have to be repeated six weeks apart. Those seem to be the basics they do in the UK. Sadly no real plan for next time, just hoping we’ve had really bad luck so far. They will scan us every two weeks in early pregnancy and do a blood test just to check being pregnant hasn’t affected how my blood is behaving, but other than that… wing and a prayer! Do message me if you have any other questions. Jennie xxx

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  3. Have I said lately how I feel you’re my kindred spirit across the pond? Because you are. So often you echo my feelings and thoughts. And like you, I have done similar things — aim for other goals to constantly work towards to get myself through the grief, to distract from the due dates. My last “ghost birthday” (I have fully appropriated that term from your blog and tell people all about it, I find it so brilliant, fyi) was my own birthday in February. And I had a blessed two months of months I haven’t had to worry about due dates in. But now May is coming — and June — and July… and each of those months brings those spectres again (June has had three due dates for me in my life, though only one has brought me a living baby). I work on “losing such and such amount of weight” or “let me get this room completely cleaned and organized” or “maybe I’ll take on a third job to distract myself further.” Always distractions.

    I have therapy, which I am thankful for, and I deeply hope you use regularly too. But it’s so hard when we funnel energy into things that would have made us so proud, so accomplished, before the “TTC era.” And they just don’t have the same punch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! So sorry it’s taken me a while to reply… I really like the thought of having a kindred spirit across the pond, though I obviously wish you weren’t in the same boat. I have been having therapy too, and found it really helpful. Other than that been trying to cut myself a little slack from targets (blog-related, running, weight loss – yeah, I do that one too) etc. Just trying to let myself… be for a little bit. Really hope you are feeling OK and looking after yourself in these difficult few months. Jennie xxx

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