Guest Post by Katie Noorbakhsh
My mom and I were shopping at the After Christmas Sales. I was eighteen weeks pregnant and in that awkward stage when normal pants will not button but maternity clothes look ridiculous. I hated the idea of buying clothes that would only fit for a month or two. At the same time, I needed clothes that fit.
I flipped through the sale rack wondering if I should buy something nursing-friendly for the summer or belly-friendly for the spring. Then I spotted them. A pair of trouser style jeans perfect for work. I had admired similar pants on other women and wanted a pair for myself. A charming sales person walked me to the dressing room. She was petite and had a baby bump that could only be described as adorable. We chatted about the second trimester and second pregnancies. Like me, she had a little boy at home. She was having another boy. I was pregnant with Anne.
The pants fit fine and I determined that they would bridge the gap until the weeks of elastic waist bands were upon me. I also purchased a shirt that I thought would minimize my expanding belly. As we walked away, I did the math in my head. Her due date was 14 or 15 days before mine. “She is not that much farther along and she is showing a lot more than me.” My mom shrugged and I sort of regretted the words. Why did I say that? Was I fishing for a compliment on how well I carried my baby weight? Was I trying to create worry over a perfectly normal pregnancy? She was short. I am tall. Everyone carries differently. It was nothing.
I had no idea what was waiting for me at my doctor’s visit three days later. Nervous jokes when the doppler would detect no heartbeat. Confusion and disbelief as I would watch a still baby by ultrasound. Complete devastation when my doctor would start to cry.
There, in the mall, I was immersed in the last days of commercial Christmas. I was worried about looking too pregnant. I made comments that did not mean anything. I could not have conceived the wretched period of darkness my family was about to descend into.
I still have the pants. I wore them as I transitioned back into my regular clothes and then well into the third trimester of my third pregnancy. When I wear them, I think of my daughter Anne, which is nice. I do not have much that reminds me of her. I think about how it felt to be eighteen weeks pregnant without worry and fear. I remember the sales woman. I like to imagine a healthy pregnancy and May delivery date for her. I also meditate on the comment I made. I still do not really know why I said it.
When you lose a baby, it is normal to wonder if you could have done something different. If there was one small decision or one nugget of knowledge that could have changed it all. Eventually you are supposed to come to terms with the fact that there are no answers to the “if only’s” and the “what if’s.” Still, when I wear those pants, I cannot help it. A part of me wonders if a part of me knew.