friday the 13th: part II.

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What? Not this again…

Today marks the second occurrence of Friday the 13th this year. It’s been a fairly innocuous day thus far, yet I can’t help but think back to Friday, September 13th, and the bomb that was dropped on me that morning.

I have talked about my superstitions in various posts in this blog, but aside from a single unfortunate coincidence, I’ve no real ties to (nor fears about) this day. Still, in keeping with the somewhat ominous tone of Friday the 13th, I thought I’d share something that I’ve been keeping to myself for a while…

* * *
I am a creature of the night, and my habitual night owl tendencies have been thrown into overdrive by my inability to sleep comfortably for any stretch of time. To fill the hours between sleep and wakefulness, I rely on my old friend internet to keep me entertained. I’ve mentioned that I’m an avid reader of mommy blogs, but my natural curiosity finds me poking my nose into things that are likely best left alone while pregnant.

I’ve always been morbidly curious; sites like the now-defunct rotten.com and other gore-porn sites fascinate, not repulse. In the early days of my pregnancy, I searched for and watched as many abortion documentaries as I could find. I’ve no idea why, since I had firmly, steadfastly decided to keep my little one. In trimester two, my penchant for abortion flicks turned to true life/crime dramas about serial criminals – primarily about those who committed atrocities against women and children. Again, I cannot tell you WHY, but that’s what I was compelled to watch.

Trimester three has brought about an even more disturbing trend. I am obsessed with watching all of the youtube tributes to babies who have died…you know the ones – stillborns, premature births, deaths shortly thereafter…and the more pictures the better.

What is wrong with me? While I find myself saddened by them, it’s not the videos that make me cry.

What reduces me to tears, without fail, at least once a day, are the women who write about their babies dying in utero weeks, days before they’re due to give brith. I see numbers like 37w2d or 39w5d…some have even gone past their due dates – 40w2d – and I find myself weeping for these mothers.

I know I could just NOT read the articles/blog entries, but some of these stories – like this one – start out innocuously enough, and then end with me in tears, because yet another baby has died so soon before the due date, and I’m TERRIFIED that this could possibly happen to me.

And there it is. I’ve cleared so many hurdles from day one – pregnant with fibroids, AMA, Down syndrome, hospitalizations, early labour scares…I just worry that even after making it past the “critical” points at 12, 18, 24, 28 and now almost-30 weeks, there’s still no guarantee that I’ll even see the prize for having completed this often difficult journey.

I cry almost every night about it. Then I fall into a short, fitful sleep, and wake up and watch/wait for the belly to move. When I feel a protruding bit of foot or an elbow, I tweak it, prompting Aisha to twist and turn in response (or protest). And then I talk to her, begging her to “please hang on.”

“Don’t die on me, baby,” I say. “Whatever you do, just hang on. It’s not long now. I know it’s not comfortable in there. I know you’re running out of room, but just stay with me, all right?” I rub my belly and speak softly to her, murmuring words of encouragement, weeping the whole time.

Sometimes she’ll give a big jerk or kick, as if to say, “OMG, mom…stop being so dramatic!” and I laugh, which instantly stems the flow of tears. Mostly, though, I just talk until she settles into a comfortable position and stops moving. I like to think it’s because she’s lulled by the sound of my voice. The small, fearful part of me worries that she’s gone.

I dare not tell the boy any of this, as he’d preach his usual rhetoric of the evils of the internet (he does not even own a computer), or just tell me, “Babe, stop reading those articles!” in his exasperated, matter-of-fact way. But by nature of what I do, I can’t just stop being on-line; I can’t just put away the internet until the baby is born.

The web has been my lifeline when it comes to learning about my daughter’s DS diagnosis. I’ve discovered the practical benefits of cloth diapering, and found really good deals on her furniture, stroller and car seat. I’ve learned about Braxton-Hicks, heartburn, hiccups in utero and all sorts of weird and wondeul things because of the internet. And in turn, I’ve educated the boy. Without the web, I’d be drowning in a sea of questions…but I’d also be free of my predilection for reading and watching videos about dead babies.

I already know that when it comes to illness, the internet can be your worst enemy; search something as innocuous as an itchy ear or scratchy throat, and Dr. Google comes back with CANCER! It’s CANCER! You’re GOING TO DIE! So how do I balance my innate curiosity without indulging my tendency toward the macabre?

I may have to look into one of those site-blocker apps. I already use one that keeps me focused when I write. I wonder if I can find one to selectively block terms/videos/links that I find myself searching late at night?

I hope so.

I don’t think I can do 10+ more weeks of worrying myself to tears.

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