Something inside told me to take that last lonely pregnancy test in my drawer.
I played with the girls, giggling about the bubble cupcakes we were making, not paying any attention to the timer behind me.
I turned to look. I had taken several pregnancy tests in the past. Every few months I took one. Every single one turned up negative and I had every expectation this one would too.
I was wrong.
Two blue lines.
My chest tightened, I tried to gasp but I couldn’t. I managed to yell for Scott. Probably the worst thing to do to a dad when both girls are in any kind of water. “Whats wrong?” he asked. I just stared. He grabbed me just as I felt my knees start to buckle.
Scott had been cracking jokes the past few weeks about getting pregnant. I would roll my eyes. I was still nursing E. 15 months of mother natures birth control. The nursing actually prevented my period from coming back. I knew this wasn’t fool proof but quite the opposite. Many women ovulate and conceive while nursing, but I felt as though this lessened my chances. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get pregnant, I actually loved being pregnant and had every intention of having more kids. We knew our family wasn’t finished. I still felt conflicted. I knew I wanted to add to our family but I didn’t know when I would be ready.
It was no secret transitioning from one kid to two wasn’t easy on us, as I’m sure many families experience. Combine that with an excessive nurser, non-sleeper, and an overall needy baby and most days I felt completely depleted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little cuddle bug, and if she was my only I am sure I wouldn’t have minded. It was the combination of the two, two beautiful children who needed so much from me. I wanted to give it to them but that resulted in me losing myself most days. I had these two beautiful, healthy, intelligent girls, only 17 months apart, who were my whole world. I just didn’t recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. As time passed, and the demands of an infant diminished (and possibly some hormonal regulation), I started to find the balance I needed. For the last few months I felt myself again. I found the balance of living with two kids. I felt I had a groove.
That day in the bathroom I stared at that stick and the past 15 months flashed before my eyes. So much happiness overshadowed by so much fear. So much progress was thrown away. Was I selfish? Could I do this? Was I ready? Why was I feeling this way? I couldn’t make sense of the questions in my head.
Then an emotion even more powerful set in. Guilt.
I thought of the girl 4 years ago who wanted so desperately to have a baby. Two positive pregnancy tests and two precious babies now in heaven. Those miscarriages changed me as a person and as a mother. It changed the way I wanted to parent and how grateful I was for every precious life God blessed us with. In this moment have I forgotten that person? Am I so far removed from that pain from 4 years ago that I can be anything but overjoyed? Guilt followed by darkness.
These emotions were far from simple.
That pain and how it molded me into the mother I am today was the seed of this fear. I want to be the mother that gives everything to my children. The late night feedings, no matter how many, the hours connected to my hip, and the many sacrifices. That was my choice. That is the mother I wanted to be, not better or worse than any other mother, just what I aspired for. If I couldn’t be that type of mother was I fit to bring another baby into this world? Would this baby get less of me? Was that fair?
I know what you are thinking. Balance. It sounds so simple and the pre-baby me would be saying that this would never happen. Never lose myself in my kids. Still hold tight to my identity. Easier said than done. In these moments of motherhood you make the decision to pick them or pick yourself, and even those days I picked “me” I felt even more lost.
So as Scott held me I tried to put as many words together as I could, I was scared. “One day at a time” he said. I felt better. Embarrassed to even admit that I had these feelings but so much better knowing he understood me.
This wasn’t the end. These feelings of fear grew as the months followed. I suffered from severe morning sickness, even having to be hospitalized. Most days I could barely get out of bed. I lay there listening to my children laugh or cry in the next room and go about their normal day without me. That mother I aspired to be was so far away. The darkness surrounded me. I was alone, not letting anyone in, suffering physically but more so emotionally. Weeks passed with no sign of relief. The sickness consumed me. It was all I could think about, it controlled me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought this sickness would control me forever and there was no way I could survive. Friends and family reached out trying to help and further into the darkness I slipped. How could this be happening? All I needed was a sign to show that I was ready for this job and instead all I felt was how unfit I truly was. Unable to take care of myself let alone my family. The sickness, the hormones, the loneliness, created a person I didn’t know. The medication just made me sleep. My days mixed together, I would be up all night lost in my thoughts. There was no light. Even if there was, I wouldn’t allow myself to see it.
My husband was scared, I could see it in his eyes, he lost me and now he was going to do everything in his power to get me back. He loaded us up, packed the car and took us to stay at the beach for a week. I was reluctant and still very sick but the moment we pulled up the salt air brushed against my face and as I closed my eyes I could see a glimmer in the distance. I managed to muster enough energy to get out of bed a few hours each day. I talked to people. I laughed with my kids. I ate and kept food down. I put my bathing suit on, looked down, and saw the start of this growing home for a beautiful little life. I cried. I was in survival mode the past few months, just hoping to survive one more minute, one more hour, one more day. I didn’t allow myself to think about the baby. It was all too much. At this moment I realized what this huge sacrifice was really for. For this life God blessed us with. I allowed the good thoughts to come in. The thoughts of my 3 kids playing together. The laughter that would fill my house. The light that would shine down on my face as we spent our afternoons outside. I could see the light for the first time in a long time.
The journey back to normalcy was a long one. My morning sickness didn’t disappear overnight and neither did my dark thoughts. As I let people back in, as I talked with Scott more, and I gained the routine of a mundane life, I started to feel more happiness flooding in. When I made that choice to allow myself to see it, I realized the light was there all along. Waiting for me.
These months taught me something really profound about being a mother. Things that are really difficult to put into words. How precious health and life really is. How much a families love and strength can shine when it’s truly tested.
I also came to terms with my feelings. Instead of being ashamed or embarrassed for the anger, guilt, regret, I embraced those feelings as moments to grow and I became a better person in the process.
Sometimes, as mothers, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of perfection. That is so normal, I do believe that striving for greatness will make us better. But there will be times that we fall, we fall so hard that we feel lost, feel so alone that we don’t know who to turn to, become a person we don’t recognize. That is ok too. I’ve learned to accept the good and the bad. I’ve accepted there are things out of my control and those things can make me even happier, if I just have faith.
Maybe pregnancy doesn’t start off the way we planned or look the way it does on T.V. but that doesn’t matter one bit.
It doesn’t mean the love I have for this baby is any less, actually quite the opposite, we have the strongest of bonds because of all we have been through. The pain, the fear, the myriad of emotions showed that no matter what, my love will always prevail. My love for this little life growing inside of me. It’s ok if I stray because my love will always bring me back.
No one said the best things in life are easy or come without sacrifice.
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