I want to write something about the differences between my first pregnancy, nearly 10 years ago and my second pregnancy, now. I want to write about the kids my husband and I were when we ventured upon parenthood with all the confidence and arrogance in the world; and we found that it was actually the beginning of a long, exhausting, and troublesome road for our family.
I want to summarize how my daughter’s birth was the catalyst for the most extreme emotions I have ever felt. The intense love for this perfect little girl, the weariness of mothering a newborn and feeling so alone, pride over thinking I could do it all myself (when I really couldn’t), intense anger over the way life’s circumstances began to move and feeling I deserved better, a deep skepticism and feelings of betrayal in regards to a faith I had been blindly following for many years, doubt and anger that God wasn’t working the way I thought God was supposed to work.
I want to mention the ways our family has struggled. The many joys and sorrows, the stress of moving - making new friends and then leaving these friends, the arguments my husband and I had and the times it felt like our marriage was being held together by a thread.
I want to talk about how, because of where we are today, I would not change a thing. I am deeply thankful for the family we have grown into and for the people we have become. We are far from perfect, but we recognize that we do not need perfection; we need each other and we are better for knowing that.
I want to express just how different this second pregnancy has been. It was an incredible surprise to our family, and we lingered in a state of shock for a fair amount of time. When we finally told our daughter, she responded in anger. And I could relate because I felt angry too. The three of us experienced extreme heartbreak over my inability to get pregnant and it seemed like a mean prank to randomly end up pregnant after we had finally embraced our perfect little family as it was.
I want to share my reflections on the past 40 weeks. With today being my official “due date,” I’ve spent much of the morning comparing this one to the first. Last time, I didn’t make it to the due date. Instead, I faced the weeks before labor in fear, worry, and misunderstanding. I was induced early and it wasn’t until I went through a birth that would give me a sense of PTSD and take many years to heal from that I got to hold my incredible little daughter in my wavering hands. I have no regrets, but I have lessons learned from the past, and I have the understanding that there is still so much more to learn. These past 40 weeks have been full of life and love, hopes and fears, tears and joys … and because we know that we do not have all the answers, we have faced them with questions and hope, and a family bond that I will treasure throughout my life. I have a confidence in myself and a confidence in the people closest to me that brings tears to my eyes as I type this. I believe we can do this no matter what the future holds, and I feel so lucky to be facing the birth of this new child with this perspective.
I want to tell the story of how my daughter, now a tween, has been talking to this baby for months. She has let go of her anger and she seems to be letting go of her anxiety. For the past few days, she has been telling the baby it’s time to come out. The other day I said, “You know, once this baby comes out, it will always be here. It will be part of our family.” She responded, “It already is a part of our family,” and she gave my belly a kiss. Her words were a gift; they were the final piece of the puzzle of how our family is going to embrace this change.
Pregnancy #1 was filled with the over-confidence and arrogance of youth, blacks and whites, and lots of certainty. Pregnancy #2 has been filled with questions, humility, and an openness to uncertainty. And through all of that, I feel healthy and confident and full of hope. Here’s to the future, come what may.