I have a growing baby in my belly that will join us in early April 2016. For months I have been cautious, and for several years I have wondered if this time would come. In these final weeks I feel the practiced swipes, thumps and pivots of movement. Mike croons Lyle Lovett songs to serenade it, and my heart warms.
Two years ago we thought we would be having twins. This rainbow baby shares the same due date. So while it is a new life, the baby is connected to two angels, Twia & Twib. I believe they will be present to help me usher their sibling into the world. I wouldn’t expect anything less, as Mike & I have journeyed together in stormy and meaningful ways. I have come to embrace the nuance & weight of this coincidence. And apparently I am fertile in the month of July.
Friends & family are very excited for us, and we are grateful for their support. For a long time, understandably, our peers didn’t know how to talk to us about their own babies. Now they can relay advice on swaddling, diaper changes and ways to cope with little sleep. We are no longer outsiders to this spirited conversation, and will soon obediently line up at Costco for the jumbo pack of you name it, with an SUV-sized stroller.
But while this pregnancy is healthy and has progressed beautifully, there is a fragility to it. I have been hesitant to admit my trepidation out loud, as if it is contagious. Perhaps I am superstitious; if we don’t cover all our bases the unthinkable may happen again. The early morning hours when one wakes to mind-chattering worry, to thoughts of mortality, mortgage payments, self-worth and the unknown future. I have found myself floundering, “Is the baby OK?” As my due date approaches, and I make small talk with my Midwife while she guides the Doppler to my belly, I brace for the pounding heartbeat. I have been marching to that drumbeat.
I still struggle over with who & when to share our story, and feel deflated when I don’t mention the twins. To me, they should be here with the other 2 year-olds scampering about, or at a minimum be mentioned. It’s not a matter of “it wasn’t meant to be”. And so I still keep active in the parent loss support network. They understand, especially now. The Mothers of this sort keep me uplifted, striking the balance between honoring the babies they lost and fiercely loving the rainbow babies that come. And the caveat that our lives are often more settled is bittersweet and frequently discussed.
Hope is more powerful than fear though, and I recognize that wholeheartedly. I have delved into resources in search of empowerment. Once again new care providers and educators like Ina May Gaskin and Penny Simkin have hit the spot. Penny is local, and it doesn’t get any better when it comes to birth classes. In an attempt to celebrate and normalize this pregnancy, I participated in a ‘belly lab’ at Bastyr University with new Midwifery students. 18 ladies studied my growing belly at 30 weeks, feeling for the baby’s position & listening to its heartbeat. They complimented my bump, often with wonder in their eyes. And as people continue to hear our news, their smiles brighten. I had one girlfriend practically jump across the table to hug me. My good friend Justine came over to snap some photos recently. People are excited for us to share in the joy of parenthood.
“You must be thrilled, I know you’ve wanted this for a long time”, said a family member over the holidays. It’s not that my life has lead to this one moment, or that I intend to reinvent motherhood. Mike & I have no idea what we are about to embark on! I suppose that’s where instinct kicks in, for the Mother, Father & baby. And I’m excited for the magic in that.
“Do you want to hold him/her?” says a new Mom. No thanks. I’m happy for you, but I just want to hold my own. Finally. “Is this your first?” Well, not really. It depends on my mood and who’s asking. “Are you nervous for labor and birth?” Kind of. I want it to go better than last time. “Are you planning to take time off?” Yes, I’ll hold the baby close.
Now the only questions left to ask is: “Is it a boy or girl?”
We can’t wait to find out.
Thanks to Justine Webster for these shots.
Since our loss, my work in floral has proved to be very healing. I’ve created a new space on the blog to write & explore this. Under ‘Flowers Heal‘ you’ll find my Balance post as well as future thoughts around loss that weave in and around the beauty of flowers. My intention is not to rant too often. This is only a part of me, and it extends beyond my own experience. It is an honor when grieving families contact me to create memorial flowers for a loved one. I predict I’ll have more to say as this flower child grows.