She looked younger than me but older than my students--so maybe 25? Chin length bob, a big grin on her face as she talked to her co-worker. She was wearing a pastel colored tunic and khaki pants. And she was pregnant.
I thought I was kind of over this. I mean, I had a baby (who happens to be one of the very best babies in all the world, I'm absolutely convinced). Why do I look at a pregnant girl and feel so. freaking. jealous?
Maybe it's because she probably just had two ultrasounds through her whole pregnancy and she doesn't even bother to do kick counts.
Maybe it's because questions about her pregnancy aren't loaded grief triggers.
Maybe it's because I feel like my smile will never look like that again.
Maybe it's because I'm not 100% sure I'll ever have another baby.
Maybe I was just having a rough morning.
I heard on the radio today that we have an optimism bias. We are more inclined to accept good news and less likely to believe bad things will happen to us. The example in the radio story was that many parents are concerned about childhood obesity; few are concerned for their own children.
I know the same is true for pregnancy. Sure, stillbirth can happen. Babies can die in the womb for a myriad of sad reasons or no reason at all. But that only happens to other people.
David and I were in the Container Store over the weekend (just browsing! because it's fun!) and I said, "Remember when I won that gift card here? Just for watching a suitcase packing demonstration? And I bought those suitcase organizers that we took to Italy?" I smiled at that memory and then added, "That was back when I thought we were lucky."
I was the kind of person who won gift cards at the Container Store and a handbag one time at a Cole Haan store opening. I thought I led a charmed life. I guess I did lead a charmed life (I still love that handbag).
The optimism bias is why we buy lottery tickets and we don't fret that we're far more likely to wreck our car on the way home from work than we are to win the lottery. It's a survival mechanism and the truth is that good things are more likely to happen when we expect them to happen (seriously, that's like a fact... also known as The Secret -- an idea that still rubs me the wrong way, given that my expectations for Eliza were perfect).
But once something happens to you that knocks your whole world off-kilter, once you witness how quickly your carefully laid plans can crumble into nothing, once you come home to an empty crib and you have no baby to put in it, well. Your expectations are different.
The question is how to reconcile that with everything else in life. Because my first baby died, do I assume that nothing in my life will ever work out? Do I walk around in a state of perpetual dread, waiting for the bottom to fall out? And why? So I can say I told you so? But how do I convince myself that things will (most likely) work out? Probability is problematic for some of us.
Today in the cafe, I was sooooo jealous of that girl and her great expectations. Absolutely sick-to-my-stomach, green-with-envy jealous. I don't want her life, her baby, her husband, or her hair. Or her ugly khaki maternity pants.
But dammit. I want that sense of certainty back. I want to be that kind of optimistic.
I don't want the loss of a baby to happen to ANYONE. But I sure as hell don't want it to have happened to me.
Can't I just be the really nice and supportive friend who helps other people through their hard time? Why do I have to have the kind of loss that other people won't even recognize as being POSSIBLE for them, based on their stupid optimism bias?
It's funny because I keep thinking that maybe someday I'm going to learn and grow and be nicer or something because of Eliza. So much of the time, though, I'm just the bitter-and-jaded version of my old self me, all kinds of pissed off that this is my reality and that people will go on having baby showers and buying baby clothes and making cutesy pregnancy announcements with math that adds up (brother + daddy + pregnant mommy = 4!) even though there are no guarantees they'll get a baby in the end. I want to scream and shake them by the shoulders and say "DON'T COUNT ON IT YET!"
But more than anything, I want to be one of those people who counts on it.