This past fall our then-two-year-old daughter came down with her first stomach virus. It lasted 12 long hours and, outside of the sheer disgust we’re all still sitting with, the illness finished as quickly as it started. The following day I began feeling sick and prepared for my own half a day of vomit. Five days in, still no vomit but also no nausea relief.
That fifth night was particularly rough on me and was also tough for our toddler (unrelated to the bug). By 4:00 in the morning she was in our bed, stretched out horizontally to ensure no one else was even a little bit comfortable. I certainly wasn’t sleeping, so I followed my gut – fairly haphazardly – and took a pregnancy test. Too tired to process anything at all, I walked back into our bedroom and delivered the most anti-climactic pregnancy news imaginable:
(whole conversation was in nearly-silent whispers so I didn’t wake our daughter)
Me: “I’m pregnant.”
Husband: “What!? Did you just take a test? You just did that?”
Me: “Yes, we can process it in the morning.”
I’m not really sure what he said after, but I sure as hell know we didn’t fall back asleep. See we had just found our rhythm – we had life as a family of three figured out, and our marriage was stronger and more fun than ever. We felt a certain ease about day-to-day reality that we hadn’t felt since we became parents. So this news, while joyous and welcomed immediately, was also somehow rattling.
After a string of postpartum complications with our first daughter, we’d prepared ourselves for many outcomes, feeling confident pregnancy wasn’t possible in the foreseeable future. We’d done a lot of work to heal from our first go-around and desperately wanted a bigger family, but the news was weighted with hints of fear, uncertainty and most notably, a desire to do everything “right” this time around.
For me that rightness rested deeply in a desire to make space in my life and heart for baby two by setting myself up for postpartum success, whatever that means. Making room for me meant spending the right amount of time with our toddler in the right ways before baby came, exercising regularly to get my body in the right condition for labor, prioritizing my days to focus on the right, most-meaningful things – things that would put our whole family in a position to prepare for the transition – and so on. While all of this in theory was good and necessary, I wasn’t considering that this pregnancy could look drastically different than the first, and that maybe, just maybe, some things would happen naturally.
This pregnancy did/does in fact look and feel different than my first in every way. My body wouldn’t/won’t let me do anything I determined was right. My time with my daughter was/is limited to mainly sitting activities, working out was/is a hard pass and my husband was/is leading the charge in preparing our family for this transition (which included a house move, during which I couldn’t help physically at all). Days led to weeks and now months of feeling like I couldn’t do the right things to make space the ways I needed to. But then my OB provided me with life-giving words, revealing to me how many right things were happening naturally: “You are already a mother of two. Give yourself a break.”
Here I was, beating myself up about the extra TV time for my toddler, lack of physical activity for myself and overall inability to lead the way for our family in certain aspects; and I overlooked all of the natural space-making that was already happening, simply because I was/am already caring for two precious lives:
My never-cuddly toddler and I were spending more time wrapped in each other’s arms than we ever had, I was finding new ways to prepare my body whenever I could (still not great, but this is my reality!) and the time I couldn’t be a physical participant in leading the charge to transition, I was organizing small, unruly things, spending time in quiet and prayer, focusing on big-picture, actual needs for our family, and organizing/preparing from a new and healthy vantage point.
The icing on the cake – my love for my husband, daughter and this baby I’m carrying is growing even bigger than I can wrap my head around – I mean that whole-heartedly. My connection to all three of these people is iron-clad, and that surely isn’t a result of the space-making I was trying to control in the ways I’d declared were acceptable.
The space came in the natural and right moments when my heart was ready – whether or not I knew it. My body may not allow me to do the things I once did, but my soul and mind are adjusting and preparing perfectly with every passing day.
Featured Image by Jessica Rockowitz