“It will be different when it’s your baby,” my therapist said.
I had been talking to her about my fear of pregnant bellies and how much grief even the mere the sight of one would trigger in me. Eleven and a half years earlier I sat in front of a cold, blunt doctor who told me in no uncertain terms that I would never be pregnant.
“You were born without a womb.”
The world as I knew it ended and all of a sudden, I was on the outside looking in on all that I deemed to be “womanhood”. I would never have a period. I would never be pregnant. I would never feel a baby kick. I would never give birth screaming and bleeding whilst bringing a new life, the new life I had grown in my belly, into this world.
I didn’t believe the therapist. Every single pregnant belly I had ever seen since the day of my traumatic diagnosis had caused a visceral reaction that was so tangible I could almost touch it. I couldn’t bear to see the beautiful bellies, and certainly not uncovered, in their actual flesh. There was not a chance in hell I would touch one!
The sight of such beauty that I would never, could never, experience caused a wave of grief so overwhelming that I had to shut down whenever I was near a pregnant woman. I would have to, for my own sanity, pretend that her belly simply didn’t exist. It was the only way I could get through it. People on Facebook would get hidden for posting bump shots. If they posted uncovered bumps, it is possible they would be unfriended, unless I really liked them!
I was terrified of how I would feel once our Host Surrogate (our sister in law: Surro-SIL/SSIL) was pregnant with our child. Would I feel that primal fear, that familiar intense grief when I saw her belly? Would I be able to look at her, at ‘it’? Would I be able to touch ‘it’? I didn’t think I would.
“It will be different when it’s your baby,” my therapist had said.
Surprisingly, she was right; it is different.
It’s still hard, but it is different. SSIL has the most beautiful, perfect bump. It is easier because I know that the little baby blossoming within her is going to be in my arms in 18 weeks or less. That bump is my baby. It is still hard because my grief over the loss of the ability to be pregnant is ever present; I doubt it will ever go away.
It is different. That bump is a bump which holds joy; excitement; the child I never thought I would have! What could be more beautiful than that?
I am becoming more confident around her bump as Stevie (our daughter’s nickname) grows. A couple of weeks ago, I touched the bump and felt the tiniest of movements deep below her skin. It was incredible.
Last week for the very first time, I interacted with my daughter. SSIL lay next to me on the sofa and put my hand on her tummy, telling me where Stevie was. She wasn’t moving much at the time, so I prodded the harder area where she was apparently lying. Stevie kicked me back! I felt a strong and clear tap on the heel of my hand! Our very first interaction was:
My heart melted.
The beautiful bump may not physically belong to my body but it is carrying the most precious of things: my daughter.
It is different.