This past winter I was late. And later. And even later still. I knew it was likely a miscalculation on my part–been there, done that–but, I still felt obligated to buy a test just to be sure. Obviously, I was overreacting and there is no way I could possibly be pregnant. I mean just look at where we live, and how little time I have for a newborn, and how busy we are with our other kids… and how specifically *not* busy our small business is at the moment. Clearly it would be impossible to have a baby right now.
I held my breath as I peed on the stick. “Thank God!” I sighed with relief, as I saw that there was no little pink line.
And then it happened–suddenly, as if by magic, a line DID appear. Faintly at first, but within a matter of seconds it was quite distinct. I felt duped. In the past the line had appeared as quickly as I had peed on the damn thing, but this line had the nerve to take an entire 60 seconds to show up!
My head was spinning. So, I did what any other logical mother would do–I covered the test in wads of toilet paper and shoved it to the very back of the cabinet under my sink behind some hand towels, as if that would put a hold on the entire subject, and then I walked out and put my kids to bed like any other night.
The second they fell asleep, of course, I was back in that bathroom ogling the stick and the instructions with trembling hands, like some sort of first-time mom unsure how to properly read a pregnancy test. Surely it was wrong, right? But, I knew it wasn’t.
“I am,” I said with a quivering lip, as I sat on the kitchen table avoiding eye contact with my husband. He grabbed me and held me tight as I burst into wailing sobs. There was no need for words because we both knew what it meant. It meant 9 months of puking my guts out, heartburn, sleeplessness, and exhaustion I couldn’t shake. It meant propping my three other kids in front of the TV for many, many, many hours a day while my husband worked and I puked. It meant me quitting my job because I’d be too sick to work. It meant me stepping back from my duties as business partner in my husband’s graphic design business. It meant childbirth, nursing all night long, co-sleeping, and buying newborn diapers. It meant facing the possibility of having another special needs kid.
It also meant feeling a baby moving inside my belly, another homebirth, baby’s sweet little milky breath, midnight cuddles, cute little baby socks, and a new sibling for my other kids. It meant one more person to love, dote over, mush on, and rock in the rocking chair. One more baby to watch grow into a child, and one day into an adult.
There were just no words adequate enough to express all of that. But suddenly I realized for the very first time, what could make a women–a mother with other children no less–contemplate such an option as abortion. And for some reason, that scared me. I have devoted my life not only to my own kids, but to helping others gestate, birth, and raise their own with my doula and child birth education business. And now, here I was crying my eyes out in total fear and overwhelm because of a positive on a test. Allowing my my mind to actually think of options I would never have thought myself the type to consider.
“Oh no!” my heart immediately sank once more as I realized I had no idea how to break the news to my good friend who had been trying to get and stay pregnant for the last three years. I knew this would only heap more pain onto her head. “Why me and not her?” I thought with waves of guilt and resentment all coursing through me.
“Congratulations!… I think,” said another friend with a hesitant smile. She couldn’t seem to help being happy for me as she is the type that would keep on popping out a new one every year if she could. She was five months pregnant and happy as could be in the drivers seat, whilst I sat in the passenger seat a little over 6 weeks along and choking down sobs. I couldn’t get past the surreal feeling as we drove down the highway to Starbucks–our weekly version of a Mom’s Night Out.
“I’m not ready for this,” I tried to explain. “We can’t afford this. I just started working again, and last month we had to get charity to pay rent AND groceries. I have no idea how to pay this month’s. How can I afford to take time off of work? How will I afford diapers, and wipes and….” I dropped off.
“Can I tell you a secret?” she asked me. I nodded. “I would have chosen to conceive this baby even if we couldn’t afford it. Even if my husband was out of work. Even if I couldn’t pay rent, because I wanted it so badly,” she smiled.
I felt a mix of admiration for her truthfulness and hatred for her naivety. She’d never financially struggled a day in her life, and even if she did, she had wealthy and giving parents to fall back on–I don’t. Her husband has a good steady job, they own their own home, they never struggled to feed and clothe their kids. They never had to face the humiliation and aggravation of waiting hours in line at the Department of Human Services to beg for food stamps, whilst people eyed your bulging belly–likely wondering what kind of idiot would get knocked up again when she clearly couldn’t afford the kids she already has.
I couldn’t help but feel she was speaking with as much ignorance as kindness. I couldn’t dare tell her my thoughts from the week before. I couldn’t tell her how wildly I had sobbed and how angry I was at God.
At six and a half weeks, I started bleeding. I became panicky and totally freaked out. After putting myself on bed-rest for a week, calling every midwife I have ever known–even though I knew there was nothing they could do–and praying with all my might that we not lose this child, I felt emotionally exhausted. What kind of cruel joke was this? I was so over the whole experience.
In a matter of days the cramping and bleeding subsided as suddenly as it had come about, and the little being inside me kept on growing despite it all. I have the heartburn, stretch marks, and pregnant waddle to prove it.
Life is funny like that. Don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, right? Or until there is the threat of it being taken from you, anyhow.
I have been struggling to get past my guilt that my first–and second, third, and fourth for that matter–reactions to the news of this little one was met with tears of sadness instead of joy. It eats me up at night. It haunts my dreams and sometimes I feel certain that somehow I have done irreparable emotional damage to this baby. Disgraced the role of motherhood. Maybe even angered God on some level. I don’t feel deserving of this little life at all, and yet here I am at 29 weeks pregnant, with a belly so big I have to sit the laptop at a funny angle to type. I still don’t feel like it’s fully sunk in that there is an actual little person inside me growing. There is still some part of me afraid to give myself permission to let go and be happy. Some part of me that thinks I don’t deserve to enjoy this pregnancy because I initially didn’t want it.
Being given a blessing at exactly the wrong time fills you with an astounding mix of conflicting feelings, and I hope that one day soon, I will be able to forget all of that and look into this baby’s eyes with nothing but sincere, heartfelt love.
I also hope that I will be able to afford diapers.