Pregnancy and pandemic: 4 weeks to due date

Last week I wrote about my anxiety and disappointment that the joy and excitement we should all be feeling is being robbed from us amid this pandemic. I spent the two weeks prior to that post being stressed out and anxious. I started working from home before my company suggested it, and then mandated it. I was already limiting my external activities before my county issued a stay at home order for 30 days. That order lifts two days before my due date. I still have no idea what these next four weeks have in store or how much worse things might get.

But, I do know this: we are going to have an incredible story to tell this baby. It isn’t the one she deserves, but it will be uniquely hers.

It will be a story of joy and hope in the midst of fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Instead of telling her about all the things that couldn’t or didn’t happen we’ll share with her the amount of people who celebrated her arrival with us via all means of technology available to us.

Our hospital pictures will look very different than her brothers’ do and she won’t have the shot I really wanted – her brothers sitting with me in bed holding their baby sister, but we’ll show her the pictures of her brothers meeting her when we all got home and point out their excited faces.

We’ll talk about the amazing care team we had at the birth center and how they made sure we were well provided for and remained safe and healthy.

We’ll tell her about all the walks we took as a family and point out the same trees and flowers to her that we currently point out to her brothers. We’ll tell her that in the midst of a life we didn’t plan for and aren’t sure how to handle, she brought us a sense of peace and comfort.

No, it isn’t the experience I was hoping to have. It isn’t the experience I was PLANNING to have. The experience I had planned in my head included visitors at the hospital to meet her. It included her brothers coming to meet her and hold her and a group hug with Mom, Dad  and all three kiddos. It included newborn photos that were taken by someone with an infinitely better skillset than I possess.  It included so many seemingly silly and superficial things because this is my last baby. She will always be my last baby and her entry into this world deserves to be so much more beautiful than what I think it will be now.

But, when we tell her her story, it won’t include the disappointment for things that couldn’t happen because of a pandemic. It will include the message that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That we know there are big things in store for her life – there have to be, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being born in the middle of a pandemic?!?

My anxiety is still lingering in the background, and it is ready to pounce at the tiniest thing, but as I have been walking through our neighborhood I have been mindful to purposefully see that there is so much life happening around us. All of the trees are budding or in bloom; the forcynthia has bloomed; tulips are coming up.

In the middle of all this chaos, there is the normal, every day cycle of spring. And there are people having babies – like it was any other time. Just like normal. And while everything feels far less than normal, somehow I know everything is going to be alright. 

Party of four

As we counted down the days until we became a family of four, I sat reflecting on this pregnancy and everything that had gone in to it.

This entire year seems like a whirlwind; Brett left a job to run his own agency full-time; five minutes later we discovered I was pregnant! Throw in a major house renovation and a toddler and it all adds up to a chaotic, messy nine months.

It’s been a (mostly) beautiful mess. During the last nine months I’ve watched my husband grow and support a business; something he’s wanted to do for a long time. I’ve watched my son grow and thrive in ways that catch me off guard and take my breath away. I’ve watched the relationship between him and his dad evolve, strengthen and deepen. It’s such a beautiful thing and I’m eternally grateful to witness it.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, because there were times when I thought I’d never get to see it.

We have been pretty open about our journey toward starting a family and the struggle we endured. Henry is our miracle; fearfully and wonderfully made. It took a long time and a lot of tears to get him here. What most people don’t know is that the journey to get his brother here has been equally as difficult.

After Henry was born, we knew pretty quickly we wanted to grow our family. And since we didn’t know if we would experience the same challenges, we started trying as soon as we could. And we gave it time, and no expectations. And were met with the same challenges. Month after month. It was hard to walk through the battle of infertility a second time.

But then, last July, after nearly a year of struggle, I had a positive pregnancy test! We were elated. We did the calculations and discovered that we’d be having a St. Patrick’s Day baby – how fun!

But, the pregnancy didn’t stick. I was home by myself with Henry. I called Brett at work, sobbing. I could barely get out a sentence. “I need you to come home.” I choked out. And he did. And we sat together and cried at our loss. Wondered if our house would be full of kids like we had imagined. I felt guilty for my sadness since we have Henry and he’s perfect.

It took nearly another half of a year, but eventually I received another positive test! I was ecstatic. And terrified. And anxious. I told Brett and we cried happy tears and worried together; every day. Until we heard his heart beat. It was beautiful and perfect. We cried more happy tears. We worried some more. Until the fetal scan that showed us how strong our son was growing. We cried more happy tears.

When March arrived, I told Brett “I think the timing of this pregnancy is not an accident. I think the universe knew that March was going to be a hard month for us, so while we fight through the grief of not holding a baby like we expected back in July, we have a new joy in this pregnancy to help us through that.”

And now, nearly two and a half years after Henry made us parents, we are finally a family of four!

I am so looking forward to watching Brett and Henry grow closer, and I’m equally excited to watch him bond with our new son. I can’t wait to see Henry as a big brother; I think he’s going to be amazing.

I sit in awe at the absolute miracle that life is. And while my path to creating it has been anything but smooth, I am so grateful for the opportunity and blessing. I hope I teach and show my sons that they are precious and loved. And I hope they understand that if I seem like I over-worry about them it’s because I made them from scratch and they are the best things I’ve ever created.

You’ll Never Remember

You’ll never remember the two and a half years you spent as an only child.

You’ll never remember life before your little brother; before you were promoted and given the title Big Brother.

You’ll never remember a time you didn’t have an upstairs bedroom and that your brother’s room was once yours.

You’ll never remember that two days before your brother was born I made us take this picture.

That this is the last picture we have of you as an only child; our last picture as a family of three.

You’ll never remember that I hugged you extra hard as you left for school the Friday before you became a big brother. That I sobbed as you walked out our front door saying “bye, Mommy.” for the last time as an only child.

You’ll never remember that you went to bed on a Saturday night as our only baby and that when you woke up on Sunday we weren’t there because your brother was being born.

But I will.

I’ll remember all of those things. I’ll remember the two and a half years where my time and energy weren’t divided; where my sole focus was you and your every need.

But, I’ll also remember the look on your face when you came to visit us at the hospital to meet your baby brother. How you beamed the best, most proud smile I’ve ever seen. How you immediately knew to be soft and gentle with your brother.

I’ll remember your sweet voice saying “hello” and “I love you.” And how you gave soft kisses on his head.

I’ll remember that you were very concerned about all the people looking at your brother and you instructed the nurse “don’t hurt my baby brudder.”

I’ll remember how excited you were when we came home with your brother and how you just wanted to sit next to him and hold his hand.

You’ll never remember any of that. But I will.

And I’ll get to witness every single day of you as a big brother.