Right now I am pregnant.
29 weeks and 2 days (but who’s counting). I’ve been avoiding sharing this news because I dread receiving the kindest, most normal response to a thirty something woman who is expecting: “That is SO exciting! Congratulations! Are you and Cam just thrilled?”
The short answer is yes. But that leaves out so much.
And as I’ve done some big work in therapy and life this year and I have decided that lying by omission is no longer good with my soul. It makes me feel sad and isolated and lonely; I’ve used it for too long as a cover for things I’m ashamed of. All of which means that announcing this pregnancy as though it is an uncomplicated piece of good news is an acting job I am no longer up for.
Because this baby is the third little soul to touch down in my body.
So while, yes, we are filled up with joy at the prospect of having a baby, I am also anxious and afraid and still grieving. I loved my first baby and my second baby with a depth far outlasting their short lives on this planet. In losing those babies just nine months apart, I touched the deepest darkest blackness of grief and shame in ways I’d had no idea how privileged I was not to before.
In our first pregnancy, I didn’t yet know that a silent ultrasound technician is often your only warning sign.
I’d assumed that our previously chatty tech was just deeply focused, that her grimacing eyes and tense jaw were a show of thoughtful care for her task of measuring each and every millimeter of our baby.
Even with the surprise appearance of a bony, pale specialist I didn’t have a clue. He simultaneously knocked and barreled into the exam room. He began to speak without noticing that I had yet to finish dressing. In one jerky sentence he stated his name, a meaningless title, and that he “had some unfortunate news.” The rest of his words floated by me; I was already underwater, submerged in disbelief, panic, and tears.
As I remember it, Cam collapsed onto me as I lay on the examination table, one person’s tears indistinguishable from the other’s.
The more likely truth is that I pulled him down to me. That the primal part of my body urgently needed contact with something real and safe and stable because we were about to lose so much.
When I got pregnant again six months later, I imagined I was healed.
I willed myself to believe it was that simple, that some yoga and a new baby were all I needed to feel whole again. Clearly that first pregnancy was intended to prepare my body and soul, meant to get me ready for this one.
I mindlessly dressed for the eight week ultrasound, putting on mascara even though I’d worn it only a handful of times in the past half year (grieving moms learn quickly that frequent, unexpected tears and mascara do not mix). When Cam offered to join, I told him not to bother. We both knew to save our terror for the testing and ultrasounds that would come later in the pregnancy.
In the exam room, the tech and I both grew quiet and focused just moments into the ultrasound. This time I knew to fear silence where bubbly encouragement and a heartbeat should have been. Tears erupted from the core of my body and soul without the technician saying a word. She looked at me like I was a mad woman.
Even after everything we’d just been through, I’d opened myself back up to the possibility, no, the inevitability that everything would work out.
But it didn’t. The result was a fierce and punishing. I’d turned my back on the ocean, and a wave I never saw coming knocked me down and held me under. In that moment I didn’t just grieve my baby, I grieved the end of my belief that things would eventually end up as we hoped. There was simply no promise that I would ever be the mother of a baby born from my body.
And then somehow, five months later, another plus sign.
Then a heartbeat.
One test comes back all clear, and another.
The ultrasound tech chats the whole way through our scan. A few minutes in I build up the courage to look at the screen and cry my first happy tears in an ultrasound. She prints out photos. She calls us “mom” and “dad.”
The second ultrasound reveals a moment of quiet and a minuscule concern, the scale of which we relish, the presence of which is bizarrely a relief. And before we can stop ourselves we begin to imagine, again, that it just might work out.
The astonishing news: a third soul has chosen me as it’s mother in spite, or perhaps, because of everything.
This soul has chosen my body to nourish and grow and love it, has entrusted Cam and I with the magnificent task of being his or her family. This baby kicks and stretches and turns, swallows and blinks and hiccups inside of me. I feel like an ocean, eternal, fluid, and majestic, when I think about my body’s ability to create and sustain this life.
So, to get back to the initial question: yes, I am overjoyed. And I miss and mourn my first two babies.
Yes, these losses have made Cam and I closer. And grief is also an excruciating and individual process.
Yes, I believe that this baby will come into this world healthy and whole and that I will love him or her until I take my last breath. And I also know that life doesn’t always work out the way you’d imagined.