Not All Pregnancies Are the Same: Sometimes the Right Path Isn't "The Plan"

This is a story of best laid plans. It’s a story of Mom guilt and fertility guilt. And, really, it’s a story of how every pregnancy is different. I’ve been thinking about writing this for a very long time, but I’ve never known where or how to start. So I’ll just begin in Ireland.

I won’t sugar coat the transportation: after a horrible ten-hour flight filled with tears (look into my eyes: never take your baby on a long-haul flight. There. You were warned), Liam, Row and I spent a lovely week in Dublin exploring the city.

Late one afternoon our little trio wandered into a pub with live, traditional Irish music. Over a pint, we watched Rowan dance and delight in the music, charming the bartender and patrons alike. It was one of those moments where your kid brings so much magic that a memory, which may have otherwise been forgotten in the blur of a busy trip, becomes burned in your brain forever.

This was followed by a weekend of celebration in a castle in the Irish countryside where one of my best friends got married and, coincidentally, Rowan turned one year old. Dressed to the nines, Row clinked (empty) champagne glasses with guests, and I spent the day overjoyed for my friend and overwhelmed by thoughts of how one year could change our lives so much.

Finally, with our apartment facing the beautiful shoreline, our European getaway adventure drew to a close in picture perfect Galway. I mean, how lucky were we? Now we could add an honest-to-goodness intercontinental vacation with a baby to the list of things we pulled off (can’t write that without a shout out to my MIL who came to help over the wedding weekend).

Our life as a threesome was perfect.

Only, despite a negative pregnancy test before we left for Europe, I continued to have this feeling that we weren’t a threesome anymore.

Other than with Row, where we were actively trying, Liam had lived through, oh, about a thousand unreasonable “what if I’m pregnant moments” over the course of our decade + together, so he didn’t take me seriously when I said I wanted to find a pharmacy.

But something about this just felt different. Against everything rational (the test I had just taken was negative!) I couldn’t shake the feeling. I told Liam I simply wouldn’t be able to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner for the rest of the trip without confirming that I was just being crazy. What would it hurt to indulge me this if it would give me peace of mind?

And so I found myself in the bathroom of our rental with a very expensive pregnancy test. There’s typically a brief wait time for results, but it didn’t even take two seconds to indicate: pregnant.

I felt panic. I felt dizzy. I had to sit down. I had to stand up. I walked to the bedroom and put the test in the dresser and closed the door on it. I sat on the bed. I folded my hands in my lap. I looked toward the dresser and I looked away. My mind raced.

Hadn’t I only just returned to work, like, three months ago? Was Liam going to be upset? At me? No, of course not. And besides, this wasn’t all on me. I’m just the one who has to carry the pregnancy. And give birth. Birth. Shit. Give birth. I couldn’t do that again. No, no, there has to be a mistake.

I opened the dresser door, looked at the test.

Ok, fuck. Nothing’s changed. Of course nothing’s changed. What are my options? I mean, I’m a Mom. Like, I’m already a Mom. And I’m pregnant. And I have a job. Wait, what about work? Another kid. We’ll need a new stroller.

That evening, as we walked the streets of our surrounding neighbourhood, all I could see was big, Irish families. I didn’t count one family with less than three kids in tow, with four being the most common. Kids, linking arms and running just ahead of their frazzled parents. It was as if the universe was saying, Oh, really? You’re freaking out over two kids? Ha.

On our final night, after a very silent walk on the beach, I went back to our room and finally sobbed. I cried because I felt so shocked and out of control. I cried because I didn’t feel ready to go through the birthing process again, the thought left me panicked. I cried because I felt so guilty to just “get pregnant” when some people couldn’t. And I cried because I remembered the easy joy that washed over me when I saw Rowan’s positive test.

For months I cycled through these emotions, especially guilt. Why should I get to have another healthy baby without even planning it? Do I have the same connection to this baby that I felt with Row when I was pregnant with her? Will this baby feel a void if I don’t?

The halfway mark was so different this time. With Rowan, it was a beautiful, sunny spring day and I couldn’t wait to find out whether I was right about having a girl. When they didn’t tell us at the appointment I was so disappointed.

This time, we pulled up to the hospital on a rainy winter day. I wasn’t sure whether I thought it was a boy or girl, but I felt completely relaxed. I already knew they weren’t going to tell us and that was fine, I’d done this before.

But beginning with the ultrasound screen, the experience turned out to be completely different. For one, it was clear this was a boy, a fact the ultrasound technician confirmed with a chuckle. And while Rowan was so lazy we couldn’t get a proper reading for nearly an hour, this guy was moving like crazy (still does). Then we noticed it looked like he was holding his feet.

“He’s playing!” The technician laughed.

And with that simple, sweet image the reality of it hit me: this was a baby boy. Our son. We have a son. I felt giddy, like I was tipsy. Suddenly it was so clear that our family needs this kid.

The truth is, whether I was a Mom already or not, I did have options. But this story exists because part of me always knew this was the right path. I just needed some time to adjust. So now, at nearly eight months, it feels like we’re in the home stretch.

It’s time to let go of the disbelief that something so significant could have happened without me planning it, and instead recognize the poetry in the right thing happening when it should have. It’s time to replace guilt over being able to get pregnant with gratitude that I did.

And to know that it’s okay that this experience of pregnancy isn’t the same as my last. Maybe no two ever are. Neither will my children be, but they are both loved.

 

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