I was giddy when I first saw them. Giddy. And I don’t do giddy. But there they were in broad daylight, screaming out, “Your life is about to change!” And it was.
Two pink lines. Finally. After years of watching my sisters and close friends (and distant friends and students that I used to teach) get pregnant and have babies, it was finally my turn. I was finally pregnant at the age of 35.
I can still relate to 35-year-old me in some ways, but so much of what was has been lost. I was thinner, void of stretch marks, and I still had the energy to stay out late, playing music in coffee shops, and hanging out with friends. But more important, I was blissfully naive. I believed that pregnancy meant that in nine months, I would be holding a baby. I was wrong.
Thirty-nine-year-old me is wiser. I have given birth to one baby, now a fantastically spirited toddler, who will likely grow up and change the world, if I can get him to stop running into traffic every chance he gets. But, I have also lost two babies. My first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks. My third pregnancy ended around five and a half weeks. At least I had warning with that one. The blood work showed the loss before my body did. But they were hard losses. So much grief over babies I never knew.
Now I am pregnant with baby number four. It is important to me to count this baby in its proper place, to acknowledge the lives that were. But the blind hope that 35-year-old me had is gone. There has been too much reality, too much loss in the time that has passed.
On the day I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I told my husband quietly, as if saying it out loud might cause something bad to happen. We didn’t cry and laugh like we did with our first. We were excited, of course, but with the unspoken knowledge of how this could end permanently written on our hearts. It’s hard to let that go. It’s hard to live in hope.
The weeks between two pink lines and the midwife’s confirmation of this pregnancy were miserable. I should have been ecstatic. I was finally pregnant again, but I had very few symptoms. I didn’t sleep well during my successful pregnancy with my son, and now I was sleeping fine. It sounds crazy, but a little bit of insomnia would have been a welcome reminder of how much work my body was doing to grow a baby. I didn’t feel sick, except for a little bit of heartburn at night. I felt perfectly un-pregnant. I was terrified that this was a sign that all was lost. But my seven-week appointment came, and the ultrasound showed a beautiful tiny blob with a perfectly beating heart. I had to steady myself through my crying and shaking so the midwife could get a clear picture of our little one. I was one step closer to a baby in my arms.
Since then, I have had another ultrasound, again showing a perfectly beating heart. The last appointment gave me the sound of my little baby’s heartbeat through a doppler. The thump-thump-thump sounded a lot like hope. My baby is growing.
My mind knows the possibilities. I know there is no “safe” time. So I pray, and read scripture verses and inspirational quotes. I remind myself that the statistics are on my side. Most pregnancies result in babies. My chances of delivering a perfectly healthy baby are growing by the day. But sometimes I tell people that I am pregnant, and it feels like I am making it up. Like I am a fraud. I worry that they are looking at me and wondering, “Yeah, but is this one gonna stick?”
I try to imagine myself holding this baby. Bringing him or her home to our little apartment and shushing his older brother when he gets too loud. I try to be grateful for this baby, whispering a prayer every time I am able to find that tiny heartbeat on my doppler at home. This is a moment-by-moment process, being hopeful. It is a fight to not let my mind go down the dark road of a doctor visit that ends in devastation. Some days I win that fight. Some days I lose.
For today, there is a baby on the way. I expect that during the middle of this coming summer, I will make a drive to the hospital with a bag packed with tiny pajamas and freshly laundered baby blankets. I plan to return home with a brand new baby. I will be exhausted and happy. For today, I am hopeful.
Please visit the “Forever Loved, Never Forgotten” page on the Fort Worth Moms Blog to celebrate the life of your little one lost too soon or to support others moms who’ve walked this road.
Also, The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 19 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Fertility Discussion with Tarrant County Moms. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.