It all started with this Boyds Bears figurine. As I wrote about it just before Mother's Day 2008:
MDay [Mother's Day] 1998 [when I was pregnant] was full of happy anticipation. I was about three months pregnant & just newly out of the closet about my pregnancy, so to speak. (After some pointed hints from me) Dh gave me a card & a Boyd's Bears figurine of a pregnant mama bear, called Momma McBear (photo at the top of this post). We'd started giving each other Boyd's Bears figurines as gifts & I absolutely loved this one. I put it on the night table on my side of the bed. After we lost Katie & started ttc again, & then turned to fertility treatments, the pregnant teddy bear became a sort of fertility totem for me. Every night, before turning out the lights, I would rub her pregnant belly. I still do (force of habit), even though I no longer expect results.
After I lost Katie in August 1998, I joined a listserv for parents who lost a baby & were hoping to try again. One of my initial e-friends on the list, who also dealt with fertility issues, had lost a son to stillbirth, shortly before I lost Katie. At some point while we were desperately ttc for another baby, she sent me this clear round green stone etched with the word "Believe." (Don't ask me why the photo keeps showing up vertically?? -- I swear I keep turning it horizontal...) I put it on my dresser, & started rubbing it for good luck along, with Momma McBear's tummy. (We eventually lost touch, but not before she went on to have another baby, a girl, who must be about 12 now.)
A little later, I made another friend through the same listserv, whose daughter was stillborn. Beanie Babies were all the rage at the time, & she ran a small business buying and selling them. She sent me this stork for ttc good luck. I perched him on the headboard of our bed (!), leaning up against our bedpost, and started rubbing his belly before I went to bed too. (She went on to have at least two more girls, and we eventually lost touch too. But a few years ago, I was looking for articles on stillbirth through Google News -- and found her in article, acting as spokesperson for her local support group's remembrance activities. The power of the Internet...
And somewhere along the way, I found this little unicorn with a keychain attachment. He was so cute, I wound up buying several. One went to my mom, one has occasionally adorned Katie's niche at the cemetery, one sits on the shelf in my cubicle at work, one sits on dh's nightstand, and one has sat atop mine, getting his horn rubbed nightly -- along with Momma McBear's tummy, the green "Believe" stone and the Beanie Baby stork's tummy.
So -- we made the decision to stop treatment, to stop trying for a baby, more than 10 years ago now. Why am I still carrying out my nightly ritual?
Let me be perfectly clear: at my age, I am NOT still hoping for a baby. If anything -- I figure I haven't had a baby after all these years of belly-rubbing, so maybe they're not fertility totems after all. Maybe they've been serving as de facto birth control, lol. If that's the case, I'm certainly not going to stop now, lol.
I'm thinking that once I am finally, definitively though menopause, the stork will come down from his perch & I will put the "Believe" stone away with some of my other Katie-related keepsakes.
But the Momma McBear figurine will always remain on display somewhere, I think (if not within nightly belly-rubbing distance). It's one of the few, concrete reminders I have that, once upon a time, I spent one gloriously happy Mother's Day, basking in joy and hope, because a tiny life was growing inside of me.