I made it four weeks between appointments. Four whole weeks. Considering I found out about our pregnancy when I was just two weeks pregnant and enduring every 24 hour period since, this is a remarkable feat. We have had two ultrasounds already: The first on the day I found out that instead of wondering if I had ovarian cancer or some other rare disease, the doctor looked at me to say we would be having a very different conversation (the nurse had just handed her my double pink lines). The second at just over 7 weeks assuring me there indeed an embryo (why must they call it “viability” scan!?) and yes, Susie, that is a heartbeat. Deep breath. I have heard and seen this before.
Entering this pregnancy, I bring with me two failed pregnancies, two mournings, two sets of prenatal folders and ultrasound pictures, and two deep emotional scars that live under my thin skin…
I also bring with me that look of fear and apprehension; the kind that urges a nurse to ask, “Is this pregnancy something you really want?”
The reality is I more than want this! I want to be able to celebrate this! I just can’t in this moment. I’ve been hurt.
I’ve also been blessed with two kiddos (earlier in my maternal lifespan), plus two “bonus kids” courtesy of my husband, Paul’s first paternity lifespan. And a foreign exchange student for this year. So what is my problem? Am I greedy in wanting to have another child? “It’s now or never” runs through my head. You’ve already been at this for three years and you are 0 for 2. And you’re 38. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
So, here I am at eleven weeks pregnant and 38 year old. Anxious. Sweaty. Scared. Waiting for another ultrasound to show the heartbeat has stopped and to have a conversation I’ve now come to know is short at hand.
After what seems like an excruciating hour of questions and materials (why must we review prenatal information before the scan that may tell me it is all for naught?), the midwife comes in. My first words are, “I’m anxious. I have been feeling better and not bloated.” It’s wild when you covet being ill and miserable – it means something is happening in that darn uterus of mine! My heart pounds out of my chest. I lay back and she calmly gets to the business at hand. Paul bows his head in his separate, but shared, silent misery. I look intently at the screen. Waiting. I exhale. There’s my baby and her (?) beating heart. And movement as if to tell me, “Hey Momma, I’m hanging in here. Now, you can too”…. and I have so far.
Fast forward nine weeks and it is the eve of my twenty-week ultrasound at the medical center. I finally announced my pregnancy on Thanksgiving Day, still reluctant and sure that the other shoe would drop as soon as I put it out in Facebook land. At some point, I realized I needed to start enjoying this. And, I do – I am enjoying talking with my (much) older kids about the baby and guess about what the world will be like in a few months. I like people at work and around town congratulating me and wanting to ask me lots of questions. I even welcome the touching of the belly, which normally would send me into a spin! But, as much as I enjoy these moments and the hundreds of others, the self-doubt and anxiety creep in from time to time. I resist buying my 11 year old son a “cool Big Brother” tee-shirt for Christmas because if something should happen I don’t want my son to have to suffer the thought of what to do with that shirt, as I have done with onesies and little socks in miscarriages gone by. I still find myself holding back a lot. I still sweat and dread the FHR checks weekly.
I have learned to stay the heck away from the online chat boards with every worry and paranoid symptom I experience.
That has helped me cope better… that and the weekly FHR checks I just complained about. As the weeks have gone by I have relaxed little by little along the way. The weekly heartbeats have been grounding. I’m getting there. It will remain a complicated, bittersweet journey until I hold this little one to my skin and listen to his (?) first thousand breaths and stare intensely at every inch of this beautiful child to begin to believe this is real.
And by real, I mean I realize that from the moment I found out I was pregnant again and every day after, I walk this earth with a little bit of apprehension and anxiety – because, we are moms and these lives we produce and shape are the greatest of journeys, the greatest gift that cause us the most discomfort and deepest emotions we will every experience. We are in it. I am in this.