Thursday, July 03, 2008

And This is the Reason I Was Feeling Nostalgic

For a little while—about fourteen hours or so—I thought I was pregnant. And this was surprising and overwhelming and also really wonderful. It made me think a lot about babies and toddlers and go back and look at a lot of old pictures of Luke and Henry when they were wee little things.

But let me go back and tell this like a proper story.

First of all—and I’ll be purposely vague here, since I know my dad reads this blog—let me just say that it is probably not a great idea to order free samples of birth control over the internet, especially if it is a type you have never used before, and then attempt to use it after drinking several celebratory glasses of birthday wine.

So in the back of my mind I knew that there was a slim possibility of pregnancy. And I’m okay with that. I have been very ambivalent for the past year about having another child. On the one hand, I appreciate the rhythm that we have found in our lives as of late. We are finally feeling somewhat settled here. And our two active, outgoing boys keep us on our toes, to put it mildly. But. But. As much as I fear morning sickness and the pushing stage and, well, newborns in general, I long for another child.

But Craig doesn’t. Oh no, not one bit. Whenever the topic of another child comes up, Craig states, unequivocally and without hesitation, that he does not want any more children. Period. End of discussion.

And you know, when I discovered that the free sample appeared to be partially malfunctioning a few weeks ago, I did mention it to Craig. But I mentioned it to him mildly, while thinking, “Hmm, this may be my chance for a little accident.”

But of course, I never really thought I would get pregnant. I didn’t begin noticing any signs of pregnancy in the weeks following the free sample incident. But then I hurt my toe.

On the day that I got pregnant with Henry three years and ten months ago, I stumbled and fell and bruised my little toe very badly. And then, a few days after the free sample episode, I dropped a coffee cup on my big toe and thought I might have broken it. I still can’t wiggle it properly. So I thought it might be an omen.

When I was telling a friend about all of this, she asked, “So what symptoms of pregnancy are you having?”

“Hmm, well,” I paused. “There’s the hurt toe.”

Neither she nor Craig thought the toe was a clear indicator of my pregnancy, but I was growing increasingly convinced.

I finally took a pregnancy test a few days later. For some reason, the urine didn’t seep properly into the testing windows. I don’t think I held it flat. But I couldn’t waste ten whole dollars! So I pulled it apart and spread the urine onto the testing area. Hygienic, I know. By this point I was annoyed and convinced that I had ruined the test, so I threw it away. But a few hours later, I dug it out of the trashcan.

And I saw two lines.

Granted, the whole test was disassembled and the lines did look a little unusual. Thinner than I remember the lines on a pregnancy test. But two lines.

And I cried. A lot. Because even though I thought I wanted another child, I knew, in that crystalline instant, that I didn’t really want another child NOW. Because the thoughts that filled my head were of all the things I wished I had done before getting pregnant again. I wished I had gone to the dentist. I wished I had gotten myself established more firmly in my writing. I wished that I had gone to Hawaii to visit my friend Jenny. I wished I knew more about the homebirth climate in Ohio. I wished we had a little more money. I wished I had spent more time with Craig before the crazy hormones kicked in. And oh, how I could feel those hormones ALREADY. Of course I was pregnant! I was feeling extra hungry, very weepy, just a bit nauseous.

And then I heard Craig puttering around the house, whistling to himself. He sounded so happy. And I knew that he would not be terribly pleased to find out we were having another child. And that made me really sad.

Finally I got up the nerve to tell him, and he was kind and excited and also very worried.

It is funny how we form our identities. How we begin to believe something about ourselves and are then able to make it so. Not that I made myself pregnant that night, but I truly believed for that one night that I was pregnant. I cradled my little belly, which is really just leftover padding from the last two, but for that night was my third child. I couldn’t sleep at all—those pregnancy hormones, you know—and I was up often to use the bathroom. I snacked on crackers at midnight when I started feeling queasy. I read up online about various midwives in the area, and, after reading about one in particular that seemed very good and also affordable, I chanted her name as a mantra to the rhythm of my breath to ease my nerves and help myself finally fall asleep: “Kathy, Kathy, Kathy, Kathy.”

Well, I’ve already given away this punch line: I was not—am not—pregnant. I bought a multi-pack of pregnancy tests the next morning that have since confirmed several times that we are not expecting another baby.

It was an emotionally draining night, certainly. But it helped me to clarify what I want for our future. I think it also helped Craig open his mind, just a little bit, to the idea of another child.

But what it did, more than anything, was awake in both of us the possibility that our life together could dramatically change at any moment. Much more, really, than the addition of another child. But to us that felt huge, because for the most part, we have always made plans and they have worked out. As Craig so charmingly put it in his stunned ramblings right after I told him I thought I was pregnant: “We aren’t the kind of people who have accidents like this.” But we could be. I would go so far as to say that we are, because there are certainly accidents and surprises in store for us in our life. Not because we are any particular kind of people, but because we are people. We are human.

So for now I’m just looking at old pictures of Luke and Henry and thinking again about the softness of newborn skin and the satisfying weight of a baby in my arms.

7 comments:

Beck said...

Oh, BABIES.
Since only one out of my three was planned, I am fully braced for another surprise baby at ANY TIME. One could fall on me in the supermarket and I would not be shocked.
But yeah, right now would be a rough time for a baby, however nice they are.

Jenny said...

Ser,

I love this post--your transparency, your humor, YOU! I especially loved the part about cradling your belly that was really just left over from the last two--ha!

Let's talk soon, if possible.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ser. As I read this blog, I think my heartbeat got irregular a few times. I think I re-lived those old emotions and memories again and felt them for you, my first born. You hit it on the head saying that accidents and surprises are in store for all of us---simply because we are human. We do try to control our lives, and I think that isn't a bad thing. But, no matter how good we are at being organized and controlled, life still happens, life is messy, God gives us things to help us grow and stretch and reach for Him. It hurts and is uncomfortable at times but, God willing, it brings us closer to Him and to each other. I love you, Mom

Nancy said...

Ser-
I'm really sad that my nearby friends are now all out of the baby stage, and really sad to be out of that wonderful birthing community we had in Chicago (whatever it is like now - seemingly not the same?). I know that this is one of the hardest compromises of marriage, and if I could transmit Brian's feelings (he wants another; I don't) to Craig, I would.

Wanting a baby is never really rational - the hard part of this is that therefore, all times are both equally good and equally bad to have one!

so yung said...

Ser, your stories and your writings are on the increase - even if your belly is not going to be for now. I'm feeling too much to write it down at present, but what a wonderful story - thank you for sharing.

Martha-Lynn said...

Wow! I love this post-- it's so sincere and honest. And of course, it occurred during one of my little self-imposed Internet black-outs, which occur every so often when blog surfing impedes on reality. Nancy is right about the "never really rational" thing. I had to embrace that to even try and have my first! Hugs to you!

Molly Sabourin said...

I loved this post, Ser...loved it!