I don’t know about you, but I have a healthy fear of heights. The older I get, the worse the fear. Perhaps it has to do with a feeling of loss of control when up so high. I had a dream recently about being on the very top of the one of the World Trade Center buildings. I was terrified. Luckily someone showed me a door to a stairway down, which eased my fear. That previous evening, my husband and I had gone to the movies and saw a preview for a movie coming out about the young man, Philippe Petit, who crossed the World Trade Center buildings on a tightrope in 1974. I assume that this is what precipitated my dream.
After waking from my dream and thinking about Philippe, I couldn’t help but to see tightrope walking as a major metaphor for the journey that I am on right now, pregnancy after loss.
I see the wire strung above the ground. The wire is long and thin. It looks scary. That is the pregnancy after loss journey. I, the pregnant one, am vulnerable walking on this tightrope. I’m not a natural acrobat on the wire. I feel like I could fall at any time. I can’t look down, as that will only increase my fear. I must keep my focus on the present, the here and now. If I think too far ahead or too far behind, I will lose my focus and therefore my footing.
Of course, if I am up on a tightrope, I am doing it with the hope that I will succeed in my passage across this wire. Why else would I set out on such an adventure? I believe and hope that I can and will cross the wire successfully. With the right crowd to cheer me on, and the right equipment, I have the tools I need.
Unlike Philippe’s journey across his wire on the towers, I do have a safety net. My net is my wonderful doctor. It is my supportive family and friends. The ones that I could contact at any time of day to have my fear that I’ve just ruined my unborn baby by consuming a rain drop sized amount of unpasteurized honey eased. I am lucky to have those people in my life as my net. I’m not quite sure where I’d be without them.
My husband is walking this wire with me as well. No, he is not physically carrying this baby, but he is just as much a part of this journey. He follows behind me as I walk. He guides me and supports me. He gives me encouragement and hope when I feel scared. He is not immune to the fear, as he is also up on the wire. There’s just as much at stake here to him as there is to me. He wants and loves this baby just as much as I do. He has fear too, for he knows all too well what can go wrong. But, bravely, he walks with me as my constant partner.
Whatever is going to happen on this wire, this journey, is going to happen. I will take my steps so carefully that it hurts. I will examine anything that could be a potential interference. However, I know that there are some things that could arise that I can’t see, and when I think about those things, that’s when that fear heightens and my vision gets a bit blurry. That’s when I start to wobble and feel unsteady on my feet. I remind myself that that is the nature of this journey. It’s hard and it’s scary. I take a deep breath, and I push on. One foot in front of the other.
One might think that since I have already had one successful pregnancy after the loss of my beloved Marco, that I would find this journey a little easier this time around. I even thought and hoped for that myself. I believe that it does help somewhat, but not to the extent that I had hoped. The fact remains that when I lost my son over 5 years ago at 29 weeks, I was traumatized. And while I have done a lot of hard work toward healing, that trauma remains, and has resurfaced during this pregnancy.
As I make my way across the wire, some questions persist. Can I, like Philippe and other tightrope walkers, loosen up to move more freely on the wire? Can I smile at times? Can I move one foot from front to back in a playful manner? Can I be brave enough to attempt a little leap? Can I let go from time to time and enjoy this special time in my life? Can I see it as that, special? For it is. This is not just a period of time during which I must be fearful, but it is a time during which I also hope to find some joy.
It’s unrealistic to think that I will be carefree throughout the entire pregnancy. It won’t happen. But can I let in a carefree spirit from time to time? I hope so. If not, then an added fear of missing the opportunity to enjoy this special time will cloud me, and I will be regretful. Regretful that I didn’t take more belly pictures. Regretful that I didn’t talk to this baby more. Regretful that I didn’t appreciate the wonderment of pregnancy enough.
It is for that reason that I need to work hard to find the balance on this wire. The balance between allowing the fear to sit there and being comfortable to allow the joy to be present. If only I could find one of those long balancing sticks that the tightrope walkers use!