After I miscarried in October, I found myself locked in a tug-of-war with myself: We have four beautiful daughters. Our youngest is (finally!) out of diapers and sleeping through the night. Life is good. Do we really want to try for another baby?
But each month I would feel that familiar longing, and try we would. And each month I would feel a little heartbroken over the negative test that followed.
It got a little harder to see other people’s pregnancy and birth announcements (as much as I didn’t want it too!), and even though four months isn’t long at all in the grand scheme of things, it was long for us, and it was nervewracking.
February was no different. I had a feeling I wasn’t pregnant anyway, but I took an early pregnancy test two days before my period was due just so I could stop wondering, and this time I wasn’t surprised that it was negative. But that didn’t stop the hurt. In the midst of the Whole30 and PMS, I found myself angry and frustrated and just plain sad.
Friday came and went and my period hadn’t started. Saturday too.
By Sunday, I had the slight urge to buy another test, but my cycles aren’t extremely regular, and I was fed up with wasting money on negative tests, so I didn’t.
That afternoon I got the slightest twinge of pain in my chest. And that evening I realized that I hadn’t broken out during PMS. I always break out.
By Monday I was really starting to wonder, but my husband — just as tired of the negative tests as I was — said we should wait until Wednesday to get one. So we waited.
On Tuesday I was cataloging my symptoms — those I had and those I didn’t.
Wednesday morning saw us rushing around the house, frantically packing lunches, preparing breakfasts, brushing hair and teeth and shouting orders as we attempted to get out of the house for an early field trip…with enough time to stop for a test on the way.
We pulled into the Walmart parking lot later than we should have, and despite the fact that we were going to be late for the field trip, I couldn’t bring myself not to stop. I needed answers at that point.
I picked out a test, grabbed a Cherry Pepsi for my husband and headed straight for the bathroom stalls. Thankfully, our Walmart’s bathrooms are pretty clean, especially in the early morning on a weekday.
As I unwrapped the test from its wrapper, my hands began to shake. And not just a slight tremble, but violently shake. I hadn’t realized I had so much hope riding on the test until that moment.
I peed on the stick and sat and watched as the plus sign appeared. Immediately I broke out in a smile — just me, myself and I in the bathroom stall, staring at that positive test.
I snapped a picture (yes, I am that person), gathered my stuff and steeled my face into a stoic expression so that I could walk back through the store and to the parking lot without the goofy grin on my face.
As I walked toward the car, I could see my husband’s eyes searching my face, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I burst into a smile, and when I got in the car, we began whispering to each other in the front seat. We don’t keep our pregnancies a secret from our girls, but telling them 15 minutes before we arrived at a field trip with dozens of our friends didn’t seem like a great idea, unless I wanted everyone to know the moment we arrived.
On the remainder of our drive, I texted the picture to my mom and sister and a couple close friends and soaked up their excitement for us. Later that afternoon, after the fun of the field trip and enough time for the news to sink in, we split a cheesecake brownie from Starbucks between the girls and told them the news.
Our three-year-old’s reaction? “I don’t WIKE babies!”
But the other girls chattered excitedly, wanting to know when the baby would arrive (after everybody’s next birthday!), when we would know whether this baby would stay with us or go to heaven, when we’d know if it was a boy or a girl.
We made the decision not to keep this pregnancy a secret (as tempting as that is, especially following a miscarriage), and after we told our family, we shared the news with our friends on Facebook. A few days later I was ready to share it more publicly — on Instagram and on the blog.
And then begins that horrible wait — the four weeks of hoping and praying and wondering and worrying as we countdown the days to the eight-week mark. While anything can happen at any point in a pregnancy, my losses have all been during that six to eight week window, and so our focus is just getting through the waiting to that point where we can breathe slightly easier.
The wait hasn’t been easy, and I’ve found myself keeping track of my symptoms with a hyper-vigilance that is probably not healthy — pressing my arms against my chest to be sure it still aches, worrying during the moments when I don’t feel nauseous, surprised at the appearance of a few pimples that I didn’t expect to show themselves until after the baby is born.
I want to let go and trust, to believe that this baby will live and daydream about holding him or her in just 8 months. I want to have faith that God will protect its life. But I also want to protect my heart, to be realistic and be prepared if — God forbid — we miscarry once again.
Today I’m 7 weeks pregnant. I can’t say for sure what the next week will bring, although my hope is that it’s more nausea and exhaustion. If you think of us during this time, I covet your prayers, not just that our baby will continue to develop properly but that my heart will be prepared for whatever comes.
|Mandi Ehman is the founder and publisher behind Life Your Way and the co-author of All in Good Time, as well as a wife and the homeschooling mom to four beautiful girls. She lives with her family on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia and loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.|