How can I explain to you the roller coaster that has been Baby #3 this far?
I just spent this rainy afternoon reading back my old posts from Charlotte's pregnancy. I was blown away by how differently I feel this time around. John and I were still very much in grief from losing Callie when I became pregnant with Charlotte. I was so sad and so scared throughout it all. I fought so hard to stay hopeful, face my fears, and maintain faith.
I'd like to tell you that this baby's pregnancy has been the complete opposite...happy and carefree! But, that's not exactly true.
I'm not sure how to explain this time around...
When I first saw the positive test, we were on vacation. I slipped back into bed and whispered to Charlotte that she was going to be a big sister and left the test there as a surprise for John unsure about my own feelings. When he came back beaming, I had trouble beaming back. I was happy, I suppose, but I just couldn't bring myself to be excited.
As time went on, I tried really hard not to think about the fact that I was even pregnant. I avoided talking about it with John and fake smiled when I did have to discuss it. I felt relief upon seeing our little bean at the first ultrasound, but not exactly joy or wonder. More like "blah".
Before Callie passed away, John and I had always dreamed of having three kids. It sounded like the perfect number. I thought that losing Callie would make us want kids so much more, potentially leading us down the path to having a boatload of kids. In actuality though, that just wasn't the case- for me, at least.
I realized that after being robbed of a future of Callie, I was taken down to the most fundamental and basic desires. Lord, I just wanted a baby that would stay with us. Please, God, just let me hold a baby. Please, please let me hear a cry. Let me change diapers. Let me nurse her. Oh, God if I could just have this one thing, please, please, please. And then Charlotte came. She never took Callie's place, but she did answer so many of my prayers.
I was good. More than good- filled with absolute contentment in every sense of the word. You see, after having Charlotte, my heart was so full I just couldn't possibly dream of having any more room left in it.
How in the world could I need anything else?
And it was in this mind frame that I went into Baby #3- reluctantly, with the distant goal of giving the gift of a sibling here on earth for Charlotte to know and play with. This sounds so horrible, but it wasn't for me at all. It was for Charlotte. It was for John. For our families.
Because like I said, I was good.
I spent much of the first trimester battling some pretty bad mood swings and a general feeling of discontent, mixed with strong nausea and fatigue. I will also add that during this time, Charlotte was waking up in the middle of the night constantly and only wanting mommy, so I was downright exhausted. I broke down in tears often and felt such guilt at my lack of ability to bond with my growing baby and feel excited and grateful for the gift that he or she is. Finally, I had enough and went back to my therapist to talk things through.
And- poof! I felt better! I vented and she listened. I started to realize that my lack of excitement, was really just my fear: repackaged and redesigned. Fear of not being able to handle two kids. Fear of not being able to love each of them enough. Fear of taking away my undivided attention from Charlotte. Mix those fears in with some of the old fears... what if something happens? why mess with a good thing?...and I was a just a ball of emotions. Getting it off my chest and owning my feelings has helped me tremendously. Oh yeah, and getting more sleep and having my hormones calm down a bit didn't hurt either ;-)
I'll be 100% honest with you and tell you that, although I feel much happier, stronger, and less fearful, I am still not jumping up and down with excitement. Maybe this is how it feels after experiencing pregnancy for the third time? Maybe I'm too busy chasing Charlotte, teaching students, and managing a growing business to really even think about anything more than the moment right in front of me? But I do know that I'm not alone in these feelings and that so many other mothers have felt the same way. I'm not sure if I'll start jumping up and down any time soon (or at all!) but I do know that each day makes me feel better, more 'into it', and enthusiastic. I'm very much looking forward to more ultrasounds, more opportunities to get to know this little one, and the kicks that will make it feel "real".
And here's the other thing I'm going to be honest about. I'm in this with my whole heart: I want this baby and I know that after he or she arrives, I will never be able to imagine my life without him or her in it.
...I can also completely understand now why some people choose not to have another. Especially those who have experienced loss. Because truth be told...I was good, allllllll good. That intense satisfaction is an amazing feeling and I do not doubt that my life would have been very full and happy should we have chosen that path.
But we didn't. And I know that this path will be awesome... I just had to get my bearings first.
So, that's me right now. Happy to be past the black cloud that was the first trimester with a better outlook for the next two. Enjoying Charlotte with my whole heart. Letting hope slide into my heart in bits and pieces and preparing for it to grow and stretch to limits I never imagined were possible.
Please join us tonight for the International Wave of Light in memory of Callie and other babies lost too soon. Light a candle at 7 p.m. wherever you are. We appreciate it so much!