I have a coworker who is pregnant. Which is not all that remarkable. We have had 5 pregnancies in 18 months, including 2 sets of twins. (And about all that means is that we may be quite clear, pregnancy is not catching, even when you are trying.)
This particular co-worker, with this particular pregnancy has been an interesting experience. Her due date is the same as mine. Until last week, I really didn't think much about this. But, as I approach 2 years, as I look at her swelling stomach, and I am caught in this weird sensation. In 9 days I will remember Gabriel's birth and death, and she will still be pregnant. I will mourn and grieve, remembering fear and pain and sorrow, knowing what it is to be caught up in statistical unlikelihood. I will mark what happens when tragedy overtakes your life, and she will feel her child move. And it does not seem as if the two of us should be able to so easily co-exist in this world, it does not seem as if I should be the person to ask about pregnancy, about child birth, about questions and concerns. It does not seem that I should be the fount of information.
I am not jealous, not angry, just. . . wistful. Mindful. Careful. Aware. I don't need sympathy, but I wonder, am I the only one?
She's coming for Christmas dinner, and I'm ok with that. This year is different.
I don't remember the Christmas 15 days after Gabe died. I don't remember the day, I couldn't tell you what we ate, I don't remember the gifts, I don't remember who was there, what we talked about. I do not remember those days at all. I don't think most memories could penetrate the fog of grief, and what memories could have vanished in the intervening two years, leaving me shrugging my shoulders. I have lost 3 months of my life. Honestly, who would want to remember?
And so, as much out of curiosity as concern, I watch her. From the corner of my eye, I scan the skies for lightening, watching for bolts of blue, holding up my hands, watching the stars. Counting, figuring. I count milestones with her, note when she talks about the baby moving.
I am careful in this watching, careful that she won't know it's happening, careful that my half-held breath in my throat won't show, careful that she doesn't see that I am always watching around corners, looking down the road, watching, hoping, waiting. Careful that she is not aware how anxious I am for her, how aware that the slightest thing could be going wrong in the secret, hidden ways women's bodies grow babies.
But, always waiting. Careful.