As I sit here writing, I can feel those old familiar movements – the little elbow jabs, the well-intentioned kicks in my side, and those teeny, tiny little hiccups. At 25 weeks pregnant, I’m growing increasingly more accustomed to the idea that come wintertime, I’ll become a mother all over again.
Ask me why I haven’t accepted the notion sooner, and I’ll be able to tell you exactly why—but ask me how I got pregnant at all, and I’ll never really know.
Well, I suppose that isn’t entirely true—I do technically know. After all, every now and again, sex leads to pregnancy and pregnancy leads to a healthy, live birth—for other people, at any rate. It’s just that, for me, that’s not typically how it goes.
I am currently a mother to one five-year-old whose specialties include eating her weight in tortilla chips, tracking muddy little boot prints throughout the house and maintaining the sleeping habits of a 15-year-old boy. She’s an only child. I’d always planned on having at least two or three children – though in fairness, after the birth of my first, “Actually, let’s just play this by ear,” became my mantra. Parenthood, it turns out, is exhausting. It’s deflating and an excellent way in which to stretch oneself to the absolute limits, then beyond them still until we’re nothing but shadows of our former selves, throwing tantrums that rival those of our tiny wildlings’, and nobody in the household can figure out which way is up. (It’s a real blast, in other words.)
I never wanted to raise an only child, though. So when my daughter was 17 months old, I was elated to find out that I was pregnant again. I knew, of course, that miscarriages were always a possibility, and common, even, but I was so busy begging my batty toddler to quit eating my hand lotion and trying to remember the last time I’d taken a proper shower that I didn’t realize that my own miscarriage was impending.
Nine weeks into my second child’s gestation period, their tiny heart stopped beating, and they let go. I was grief-stricken, to be sure, but no shred of my heartache over that loss compared to the despair that followed when six months later, I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. I was told in no uncertain terms that I’d never conceive again.
From that point onward, I began the painful process of wading through the grief that would come to swallow me whole before spitting me out anew. It took me three years to give up on the blind concept that I could defy science’s ruling, to let my baseless hope slip through my fingers like sand and to reach the acceptance that my life would look nothing like I’d wanted it to.
I did it, though; I freed my limbs from the entanglement of my own grief and I counted the myriad blessings that accompanied raising my magic miracle tortilla-chip-eating daughter, never having to deal with dirty diapers or sleepless nights again, and getting to have all the unprotected sex I could ever want.
So, suffice it to say, finding out in the springtime that there I was carrying my third baby felt akin to being thrown into an expert-level emotional parkour course that I’d not remotely trained to tackle. I have a bad wrist and a patchwork heart – so parkour doesn’t sound quite as appealing as does binge-watching Netflix in my sweatpants.
I wish I could say that conceiving and carrying my rainbow baby has been a healing and restorative experience; but in reality, it catapulted me into what’s been a months-long cavern of confusion, incredulity, apprehension and depression. But the changing of the seasons and the advent of my third trimester remind me that this cannot be my final resting place.
Transition lies ahead of me, and with it carries the call to set new intentions and reform my way of thinking. If you’ve ever navigated pregnancy amidst loss or infertility, you understand the momentous task of going forward with grace and gratitude in the thick of complexity that knows no bounds. And what is demanded of us? We must acknowledge our insecurities, show kindness to our bodies, and hold space and grace for ourselves along the way.
This third pregnancy of mine hasn’t been easy or particularly light-filled – the coming-into-being of a person I was assured would never exist has brought upon me an onslaught of uncertainties and apprehensions to wade through – but beyond any shadow of my doubt, I acknowledge my need to usher in the end of something beautiful, and the beginning of blessings unknown.
The other morning while my daughter was getting ready for school, she took to the task of brainstorming names for this baby. Along her bottom line stood one stipulation we could not ignore: “The baby’s name has to be cool, mama. Like, cooler than boys’ shirts.”
Whoa. Okay. Boys’ shirts are damn near the pinnacle of cool, so this won’t be effortless, but I believe it can be done. I know nothing about this is simple or straightforward, and that it’s daunting without question—but my ability to rise up to the challenge was never in question at all. I will survive, and I will thrive, with my intentions of healing paving my path ahead.