It takes a huge leap of faith to be pregnant again.
I remember the first time someone told me that I was brave for trying again. It was Randy, over a gin and tonic, with his blunt ways who first said to me after the miscarriage, "That takes courage to try again."
He said it again after Gabriel's diagnosis was revealed. Gabriel hadn't even been born yet, but my desire to have children was already evident and I was not at all surprised when Randy if I would try again after Gabriel. And again, I had no reservations about answering "Yes." Randy noted once more the courage that would be required, but added, "You had one flukey thing happen, then another flukey thing happened, but that's no reason to stop trying, they were flukey things." Randy, a fellow member of the California Bar whom I met in a different kind of bar, is as practical as I am and I took no offense to his description of events. I love my children in Heaven, but I know it is by some natural fluke that they are not with me today. Sometimes, these things just happen.
If I had to describe my level of confidence, I am 99% sure that the baby I am now carrying is going to be just fine. The odds are, he or she will be. Besides, I am a woman of faith. I am woman who is confident that between God and statistics, come May I will be holding a healthy baby in my arms.
It's the 1% that troubles me. It's only 1%, but it represents something so frightening that it can feel like it's consuming me. I don't know that I can handle one more heartbreak.
"This is girl season," someone told me recently. "Odds are, you're having a girl."
"I tend to beat the odds," was my response, the stinging nature of which was lost on this unassuming stranger. She couldn't know that only 1 in 1,000 pregnancies will result in an anencephalic infant and my son Gabriel was that 1 in 1,000; or that of those 1 in 1,000 pregnancies, upwards of 90% of them will result in the termination of that child so that less than 10% of those 1 in 1,000 babies will get a chance to live; or that among those children who are given a chance to live, only 25% of them will live for a day or more and so it was indeed a fluke that my sweet anencephalic baby boy lived for ten days, against the odds. She couldn't know that while I've played the odds and sometimes I've scored big and sometimes I've lost big, I have no idea how this pregnancy will play out when of the 1 in 1,000 women who have an anencephalic baby, 4 in 100 of us will have a recurrence. I have faith that it won't be me. But I know that it has to be someone. And it could very well be me.
With tentative faith I will report to my obstetrician one week and one hour from now and I will hope to hear the words that most people never have to consider: "You're baby's skull is perfectly formed." If you've never had to hear that your baby's skull is NOT perfectly formed, or words of similar effect, I urge you to fall to your knees now and thank God because you can't imagine how much it hurts, and be glad you can't. In that "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book you're told that you can generally expect that your baby will be perfectly fine, but you're not told what to expect when he's not. I could write a book on what to expect with terminal diagnosis and infant loss. I maybe already have.
Randy was right. It takes courage to have another baby. I didn't know, until I was doing it. I didn't know it would take strength to love again, until I was loving. I didn't know I would have to be brave in this time of good news, until I realized how scared I am. I didn't know, because I didn't care, because my longing was greater than my fear. But I'm doing it, all of it. Every day is a little bit easier, with a huge milestone yet to come. I can see this baby, I can almost feel him or her in my arms and against my skin. But, before this river, there comes an ocean, George Michael advises me. As I tread my way through the sea of Fear and Hope, sometimes barely keeping my head above water, I'm reminded that I keep doing it because if I want the reward, I've gotta have faith. A-faith a-faith uh.