**Disclaimer: If you have or are currently struggling to get pregnant, my heart truly goes out to you. Please know that there are stories in this post that may be difficult to read.**
Ever taken a pregnancy test just to ease your mind and confirm what you already know to be true – that you are not pregnant? You just want to make sure before you down half a bottle of wine over the Bachelor this week that your mind is just playing tricks on you. I took this kind of test this week. I came home from the grocery store, set my toddler down in front of Mickey Mouse, went into the bathroom and peed on the stick. Then I set it on the counter while I put groceries away. I wandered back into the bathroom 20 minutes later just to confirm what I knew to be true…..and it turns out I was wrong. PREGNANT.
The fact that I did not see this coming alone speaks to how different this pregnancy is than my first. The first one was meticulously planned. I was in graduate school and our plan was to have a baby after graduation. I was 5 days postpartum when I walked across the stage. I had an app on my phone where I recorded my cervical mucus and basal temperature everyday. The day that I found out I was expecting my first, I was on the phone with the doctor’s office before the urine even had a chance to dry. I couldn’t believe they were going to make me wait six more weeks to come in. It’s been a few weeks now and I still haven’t called the doctor yet on this little one. This is in no reflection of a lack of care – I just learned a few things from my first pregnancy and there are a few things I’m going to do differently this time. Last time, I changed my care provider when I was 7 months pregnant because my first doctor did not deliver at the hospital where I wanted to have my baby. It’s a bit of a relief this time knowing that I have a little time to talk to friends and get some referrals before I pick up the phone.
Choosing my doctor isn’t the only thing I’m planning to do differently this time around. This is likely (my husband would say ‘definitely’) our last baby. I cherished my first pregnancy, but spent the majority of the time focusing on the finish line rather than enjoying the ride. This time I want to memorize the incredible sensation of having a child move around inside of you; I want to pray prayers of thankfulness for the privilege of carrying this child rather than complaining when I can’t tie my shoelaces; I want to take more pictures and write more letters to this baby. If this is the last time, I want to memorize what it feels like to carry a child inside of me.
I spent a lot time and energy during my first pregnancy worrying. As a result, I followed every rule to a T. I threw out lunchmeat, ate scarce amounts of fish, never slept on my back, and gave up my beloved companion, my true guilty pleasure – coffee. As I type this blog now, I am happily sipping my morning coffee and enjoying a bit of quiet before my toddler rises. I have worked hard over the last couple of years to overcome some of my anxieties and worry. What I’ve learned is that the more room I allow for grace and self-care, the less space there is for anxiety. This time around, I choose coffee.
When it comes to bringing this baby into the world, there are also a few things I’m hoping to do differently. While I achieved the medication-free birth I was hoping for the first time around, I spent more time doing research and reading about possible outcomes than actually preparing my body and my mind for birth. This time, I’m integrating yoga and meditation into my weekly routine from the beginning hoping to build both the mental and physical strength I know I’ll need for birth. After Ellie was born, there’s a period of time that’s very hazy. I was so concerned about getting her to latch and what the nurses were telling me that I didn’t take time to close my eyes and memorize what it felt like to have this tiny infant who I’d dreamed about and prayed for lying against my bare chest. This time, I really want to breathe that moment in. In the hours and days following Ellie’s entrance, I just kept wishing they would discharge us so we could go home. While I’m sure that I’ll still hate spending time at the hospital, this time I will appreciate having a couple of days to rest and have help just a button push away. I’ll watch some cable TV. I’ll order some food I didn’t have to prepare or clean up. I’ll put that baby against my chest and enjoy a couple of days where I don’t have to divide my time, love, or attention.
This time around, I’ll slow down a little more. I’ll internalize the blessing and privilege of being chosen as a vessel for this new life. I’ll memorize every sensation. I’ll marvel at what my body is capable of.
I’ll be present for the journey.