After seven months of trying, the end of the month was drawing once again to a close. I was that guarded hopeful that I had come to know, counting the days until it would be “reasonable” to take a pregnancy test. That month (March) it was Evan’s birthday, five days after my expected period, that’s when I’d let myself take a test. Every month it seemed there was some landmark that I was shooting for: my mother’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day. The result so far had been to taint each of those holidays with a little sadness when there was no need to do the pregnancy test.
The Sunday the day of my expected period, I stood in church singing when suddenly it was too beautiful, the hymn, the Milwaukee friends, the sweetness of being settled here. I began to cry. I always cry on the first day of my period. This year it has often fallen on a Sunday, and the crying often is during church. So then as I was weeping as everyone around me sang, so sure that this was again a month to mourn. But then the song ended and my tears dried for the moment.
Then that day passed. And the next day. I said nothing, just kept waiting. If I make it to Thursday, I tell myself, I’ll buy a test, so Friday on Evan’s birthday it would be ready. Thursday comes. I take my 10-month old niece to the drug store on our walk. In the store it looks like I’m going to have two babies really close together as the young check-out girl smirks at me buying my test and comments on how beautiful Anika is.
I take the test home and hide it. I picture the next morning waking Evan up with the news. But that night I am too excited and nervous to sleep. I wake up at midnight. And at two. And two-thirty. By three o’clock I’ve woken Evan with my tossing and turning. So I confess my plan and now I can’t sleep. And sweet Evan takes a deep breath, and tells me he is going to go to the bathroom and when he gets back we can talk. He comes back, “I’m really excited about it too, but we should go back to sleep.”
Secret out, I fall asleep until a few minutes before six. I bring the test up and we wait together, holding each for that eternal two minutes. I can see the plus right away, but I bring it back and let Evan get oriented. “Hey, I can see it! It’s a cross! That’s nice they have that picture to the side, and it’s not just a color” my color-blind husband says.
“Happy Birthday,” I whisper before I am crying, choking happy tears into his neck.
I let the joy wash over me for at least an hour before I think of how this tiny baby might not make it. It comes out as we try to sort out that web of who to tell when. And that is the way of it, the joy and the fear come in waves. More than half of my closest friends who have children have had miscarriages. Some of my friends are still waiting for their children after a miscarriage. I know that it is not an unreasonable fear.
I spot a few times and weep. I over-analyze the achy growing and stretching sensations of my womb making room for the baby. But again the days pass.
I am reminded that these first weeks of pregnancy are not all that different from the process of waiting to get pregnant. Or in the wise words of Mandi @Lifeyourway.net “my only option is to wait and see, with prayer and hope and fear and love all coiled together like a knot in my stomach.” Because really while there are statistics and percentages and hopes and fears, but in the end there really only is waiting.
Of course there is also the morning sickness. It hasn’t been horrible. But the space between good and “not horrible” is rather unpleasant. Sometimes it is weirdly comforting, that my body is such a strange new thing, so hungry and tired and unpredictable, it makes the pregnancy seem more real. These wise mothers at church, sympathize and then say, “Well, the sicker you are the better the baby is growing.”
So far, my experience of morning sickness has been near constant hunger, and let it go on too long and I start to feel really bad. Although as the weeks creep by, I have started to notice that that sick feeling could be tired or thirsty and not just hungry. I’ve started trying to be in bed by 8:30 and that seems to help me have more good days (or good parts of the day). Still, I worry that I’m eating too much. I worry that I’m not helping Evan enough. I worry that I am never going to have the energy or focus to write again. I can barely stand reading my favorite blogs on a screen before I feel gross, let alone write something myself. I have been reading a lot of great paper books, as a small consolation.
Evan points out that I can’t be feeling that bad if I’m feeling so guilty. I know what he means, when you’re really sick you don’t even have the energy to care that things aren’t getting done. It does remind me of the months being sick before I went paleo, or the fatigue before being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Which might add to some of the guilt, but hopefully it will also lend me a little bit of perspective. Then sometimes I feel guilty for these trivial worries, when in light of losing the baby what are weight gain or ungraded papers?
One of the paper books I’ve been reading is Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly because if the first trimester is not a good time to connect to your sense of vulnerability, what is? And I have been meditating on her thoughts on gratitude. Because there is almost nothing else that I feel that I can land on. I cannot know what tomorrow will hold. I cannot know the days of this little one’s life. I cannot know what God will ask me to walk through, even with his promise that I will not be alone. But I know that I’m grateful. I know that I will be grateful for this one’s life no matter how short. So I’m trying to stay in that place of praying thanks—in the beautiful words of Anna Lamott in her book I just finished on the three essential prayers Help, Thanks, Wow.
I’ve also been looking for times to soak in the joy. Buying a pair of tiny Smartwool baby socks. Telling friends and family. Dancing only to realize that I’m not dancing alone, but dancing with my baby. They are only flashes, moments of taking in the mystery of new life, before the clouds of fear and sickness roll in. But I am trying to be grateful for them all the same, for the miracle of new life, for the answer to a long prayed prayer, for the way that this baby is all mine and at the same time already belongs to a community as a grandchild and niece or nephew and cousin and beloved one.
How do you walk through seasons of waiting? What are your thoughts on first trimester experience?
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