I wish I could write comprehensively about pregnancy, loss, infertility, secondary infertility, and death of a child. Not that I wish I had endured all of these, but that’s a basic range of the female reproductive experience. It’s our sisters, our friends, our acquaintances. It’s the ladies we see on the subway that we don’t know struggle, and the ones sharing their journey with the world. I wrote about the thin space of being pregnant a few weeks back.
Instead, I can only write authentically about my experience, one that’s ordinary and run-of-the-mill, and, in many women’s eyes, ridiculously lucky. I experience fairly textbook cycles. Charting and planning and abstaining when avoiding to conceive has “worked” for us insofar as our kids haven’t been surprises. When we’ve been hopeful for another pregnancy, the baby’s been there. It’s my reality, and my journey, and I feel guilty often about it.
The guilt goes two ways: for my ease of conception and carrying to term, and for my sharing anything about the struggle of hyperemesis–all day sickness//all night. It’s like shut up that you’re pregnant again combined with shut up that it’s hard to be pregnant because, see part 1, you’re pregnant again. There’s no way out of feeling bleh about both spaces, so please forgive me if both annoy the heck out of you.
That being said, I can share my/our trepidation about another pregnancy, given those parameters. Fear of pregnancy is something I hear from women a lot. Women I don’t know well, women I know very well, and women who are e-friends so I know part of them well. For those of you in the pregnancy-fear-boat, or adding-another-baby-fear-boat, you’re not alone.
After we had our second, our sweet & sassy now four year old, which was my easiest labor and recovery, we were stumped. She was unlike our first in that she coslept with us longer, night nursed exponentially longer, and was generally a more attached (read: literally, attached to me at all times) baby. Perhaps with our first we were pseudo attachment parents. I was still working part-time, he took a bottle & pacifier, and he slept through the night at 10 or 12 weeks–easily transitioning to his own room by 6 months, and preferred his dad often to me.
SweetPea kept me up every night multiple times for a year. I carried her everywhere and nursed her on demand throughout the day. I was the only person who could put her down for naps and bedtime for the first year+. It was draining. And the thought of being pregnant while going through that first year was frightening.
How could I sustain another throw-up-the-whole-time-pregnancy when I can’t even sleep more than 4 hours?
She was tiny & petite, part of why I continued to night-nurse and nurse on demand–calories, baby! We felt she needed that extra attention and knew what another pregnancy would probably look like: rendering me unable to give her that.
Shortly after she turned two, we had our third. I had an epically long recovery following my terrible tears, uterus infection that rehospitalized us, and a good long year of physical healing (combined with more cosleeping & nursing & carrying–though he was much easier than our daughter in these regards). As he grew and I healed, we faced the question: when is a good time to go through another pregnancy where I’ll be out of it for a long time? Combined with “homeschooling” our pre-k / kindergartner.
We waited our longest gap between our third and this fourth baby (they’ll be over 2.5 years apart). We both felt ready for the throwing up, the messy house, the incapacitated me, followed by that first year that now we know to be kinda a wash after baby comes (attachment parenting blahbity blah).
Yeah, who deeply desires to wake up throwing up every morning? But the fear of that wasn’t a factor anymore for me. It’s part of my package of growing a baby. Given it’s no surprise, we did our best to plan for it. Yeah, there are days my spirits are low and the kids know it. I literally pray to make it through the day and rely heavily on grace and my friends’ generous meals they’ve been dropping off. No gift comes without a price; this sweet 11 week old baby inside means our lives are a little harder, a little leaner, and a little less activity oriented.
Whatever your fears are about having another child, be it pregnancy-related, or the terror of a toddler and an infant when you feel like you’re barely making it with a toddler or two, I just want you to know you’re not alone. And it’s okay to have these fears. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, or a bad future mom.
If you’re like me and fertility planning works for you, you may be facing different fears than if it doesn’t and the latest baby on the way is a surprise that you’re still getting your heart around. And if multiple losses or the aching in your womb to have a positive pregnancy test is your fear, you really truly have my heart. We’re all in this together and the closer we can feel each other’s fears as sisters, the deeper we can go with our love.