This is my therapist’s favorite word. Its abridged definition from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy reads,
…the logical development of thought or reality through thesis and antithesis to a synthesis of these opposites.
He usually throws it out in our various talks about the mind-fuck of infertility, treatment and loss, or the challenge of navigating relationships with family members who can arouse a diverse parade of emotions in any single moment. I loosely understand it as the ability to exist within the palette of muddy grays that make up human experience when what we crave at a primal level is the clarity of crisp lines and black against white – to iron out and reconcile a swarm of valid but conflicting ideas and feelings into a more sophisticated reality that feels logical and true (e.g. I can love my mother and hate spending time with her.) I declare ‘dialectic’ to be the official moniker for pregnancy after infertility and loss.
The truth is that I love being pregnant because of what it promises. I have been steeped in a euphoric kind of gratitude and glittering anticipation since August 4th, a secret Pinterest board already filling with tips for new moms and lists of what to pack in the hospital bag. After we saw two heartbeats blinking on the screen this weekend, the beans earned nicknames, morphed from Big Bean and Little Bean to Bacon and LeiLei. There’s also the relief, like the release of a screaming pressure valve, of decidedly not-trying at the present moment, of having dodged the threat of a failed beta after a two-weeks-wait electrified with an anxiety so intense it felt new. I am already watching my body change, the blush that warms the skin, the ballooning bosom, and this enables me to forgive her for so oft betraying me. I am smiles. I am possibility.
The truth is that I hate being pregnant because it promises nothing. I have already learned that this could all be little more than a tease, my Pinterest board an illusion. My body delivered a sharp reminder of this on Saturday night, when I barely slept, hours spent staring at the ceiling while I noted the spasmodic contractions of my uterus as I filled a pad with red blood and contemplated how I would survive another miscarriage; while I lay on the exam table bracing myself for the blow only to hear the whooshing rhythm of heartbeats instead. “Subchorionic bleed” they said, and so I confront the prolonged anxiety of yet another pregnancy plagued by hematomas that we pray the babies will survive. The truth is that ‘morning sickness’ is really all-day sickness, and I vomit daily, which sounds cute and small but isn’t when you’re about to kick off a school year and are desperate to keep this secret in order to not be so pitiful and overexposed as last time should this all end in tragedy. The truth is that the first trimester is fraught with worry and physical misery.
But I’m quiet about these things because I aware of my good fortune and responsive to the imperative to be sensitive and lead with a hushed gratitude. I know I am a walking, talking, typing trigger because I have been on the other side, where I was sincerely happy for ‘graduates’ while envying them bitterly. But I have been recently thinking of this post and this post, considering the line between compassion and self-censorship, wondering why women who conceive easily have permission from their communities to say, “I’m so happy but this is hard,” whereas I feel terribly guilty for admitting that aloud. Maybe it’s all in my head, and no one would begrudge me my right to own my space and write my life – in fact, this is probably also true – but I’m wrestling with the dialectic.