Full disclosure: I’m writing this from Hawaii. Kapalua, Maui to be exact. So I’m sure you’re thinking, what the hell are you doing writing a blog when you’re in paradise? And while you’re right, it is 5:30pm, and we spent the morning learning to Hang 10 with surf lessons followed by an afternoon basking in the warm sun. But I digress.
I am extremely superstitious person. Always have been. Not to an OCD, level, but a knock on wood (or my head) and say my grandma and aunt’s infamous modified Yiddish saying, “kinna hora nit, poo, poo, poo, slap your face” any time something is said/done that may “ruin” something, level. I’m also big on signs. And when it came to my 4th pregnancy, not only was I doing everything by the book (again), I also did it with fingers crossed, wood knocked and grasping at any sign I could that THIS time, everything would work out. Like the time we were on the way to our final appointment with the fertility doctor before “graduating” to the regular OB, and Baby Hold On To Me, by Eddie Money came on. This was a song, particularly the lyric, “Baby hold to me, whatever will be will be,” that I sang to the baby often. You see, I had started spotting around week 7, sometimes lightly, but more often heavy, and each time I’d panic while trying to remain positive…thus the singing. So I took the fact that this song was playing on our way to “graduation” must be a good sign. And it was. We graduated with flying colors. Then there was the time at the doctor’s office waiting to get an ultrasound after a night of heavy bleeding, and ABBA’s Dancing Queen came on (a song of great fun and significance to my college friends and me) “Oh, that means the baby is fine.” and sure enough, shortly thereafter we saw the baby dancing on the ultrasound to the tune of a healthy, strong heartbeat. We cried, thanked anyone who would listen, and rubbed the red ribbon.
Red ribbon? Yes, let me explain. Right after we did our 6th IUI to get pregnant for the 4th time, we were in Florida visiting my husband’s grandma. On one of the days she wanted to go to the cemetery to “visit” his grandpa. Now, there’s a Jewish superstition against pregnant women going to cemeteries for fear of life being taken from their unborn baby. And even though we didn’t know if I was pregnant, and since nobody knew I might be, we couldn’t say anything and not go. However, there’s also the thought that red ribbon wards off evil (I think I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the drift). So off we went and picked up red ribbon from the wrapping paper section of Walgreens (my husband’s a genius) that I proceeded to tie little pieces in strategic places on both my husband and me (if it protects me, putting some on him is bound to mean double protection, right?) I held on to one of those pieces of ribbon, keeping it with me at all times after that, rubbing it for luck, with each doctor’s visit, and each scare. And it worked…until it didn’t. In fact, I remember the exact moment when I realized it was over, and how I dropped the ribbon from my hand.
It was Sunday morning, April 10 about 5:30. I woke up to go to the bathroom, and when I got there, found that I was bleeding…again. Not a huge deal since I had bled most of the pregnancy to this point, but still alarming since it had stopped for a few weeks. Just go back to bed, I told myself, and we can call the doctor later. As I lay there, I continued to have the on-again, off-again what I thought was bad gas pains move through as I had since the night before. Again, I thought it was uncomfortable, but probably a normal thing to happen as the baby was growing. Never in a million years would I have thought they were contractions. After a few minutes, I realized I couldn’t lay there much longer, and just as I got up, I felt a gush between my legs. I called to my husband as I quickly made it to the bathroom thinking I was really bleeding this time, only to realize it was clear. I called the doctor and told him that if I didn’t know any better, I think my water just broke. When he told me to meet him at Labor & Delivery and not the ER, I knew it was bad. And yet, sensing it was over, I still held onto that red ribbon, rubbing it tightly the whole way my husband sped to the hospital. But when we got there and they had me change into a gown for an ultrasound, I let go of that ribbon for I knew it wasn’t doing anything. The ultrasound showed that while there was still a heartbeat, there was no fluid around the baby, and that, combined with the fact that I was already dilated, meant there was no hope for our baby to survive. Delivery was my only option (but that’s a post for another day).
After that, I questioned everything. My whole belief system, G-d, the universe, family members who had passed whom I had always thought were watching over and protecting us. I mean, what could there be in this world that would allow this to happen to us time after time after time after time? Each time we’d say, well, this is the worst that could happen, and each time we topped ourselves. I no longer believed in superstitions and signs because I realized they don’t matter. I did everything as I was supposed to and was overly superstitious, and STILL didn’t get the right outcome.
So what does all of this have to do with Hawaii? You see, we were supposed to take this trip — free airline tickets my boss gave me as a thank you for a huge event I busted my butt for — back in March. In fact, we were to leave on March 12, the day we were to hit 12 weeks…the “safety” point. A point I hadn’t made it to in my prior 3 pregnancies. But the night before we were to leave, I started bleeding heavily. Now, even though I had been spotting throughout, it worried me, but I thought there was hope. Long story short, that was the Dancing Queen story above, and we happy to postpone our trip because the baby was fine. The trip was rescheduled for April 12, and the beans were spilled because our family and friends knew we were going on the initial trip. Everyone was elated and I was hoping it was ok to have told, even though we were supposedly “in the clear.” Needless to say, we lost the baby on April 10, and Hawaii — not to mention life in general — was put on hold.
We were zombies for a long time after that. Going through the motions of life, but not actually living. Trying to heal ourselves emotionally and physically. All the while knowing we needed to escape this “real world.” The trip was still out there for us to take, but each time I thought about going to Hawaii, I associated it with bad things happening. This is Hawaii I’m talking about, the land of warmth and sunshine, amazing snorkeling and greenery so fresh and smells so sweet. The place my husband and I went our our honeymoon when we were blissfully ignorant of what was to come. And yet, I couldn’t get myself to book the trip. Back and forth we went on where and when and how (having a baby, especially one that you don’t get to take home with you is expensive, but again, that’s a post for another day.)
Finally, my therapist and acupuncturist said something to me that resonated: Superstitions only have power over you if you let them. Hmmm, what a concept. After much thought, I said, let’s do this. Let’s return to the Maui we once knew, and hopefully the people we were 4 years ago (even if just for this trip.) And while there was still a little part of me that was nervous, I knew it was something I HAD to do to ensure that I was moving forward. On some levels, I think it is this “forcing” of myself that has allowed me to return to life, albeit a new and different life, and to be ok with trying again. Am I terrified it’ll happen again? You betcha. Am I willing to take that risk to get the family we want? I have no other choice. So, while I’m not sure if I believe in superstitions, or if they’ll come back into play in my world, this Hawaii trip has been pretty great, and the newlywed in me thinks I can handle what’s ahead. (maybe there will be a sign to show me I’m right…)