I know exactly when it happened. About a month into my oldest son starting five-day-a-week pre-K, I looked at my youngest son—then two years old—and thought, “I could handle another baby.” After much debate and discussion, my husband agreed. Actually—he said, “I think it’s a bad idea, but if it’s what you want, then ok.”
And so our third attempt at having a baby (well, fifth, if you count my two miscarriages) had a rocky start. I want to stop here to say that I am sensitive to pregnancy and infertility issues, and so I feel a little strange writing a post about how ‘tough’ my pregnancy was. The 15 months that we spent trying to conceive, grieving over lost pregnancies, and worrying that I might never bear children was hard. But we were eventually able to have three healthy children, and I do not take that for granted. Also, friends have endured much more difficult pregnancies than I (from developing gestational diabetes to laboring to deliver a baby who would never be able to breathe on its own). Know that for someone who was lucky enough to get pregnant and have relatively mild side effects, I realize my challenges pale in comparison to others’ experiences. That said, even ‘easy’ pregnancies are hard—physically, emotionally, mentally—and in an effort to be real and avoid glossing over the difficulties of life, this is the story of my third and final pregnancy. Maybe you can relate to some of it.
When we actually got pregnant, the reality hit my husband hard. He was really stressed about providing enough for our growing family, and it was expressed in his harsh tone with me and our boys and a very short fuse. My first trimester was an emotional roller coaster, magnified by the hormonal changes I was enduring, and several times I found myself thinking, “What have I done? Have I ruined my marriage to have this baby?” Thankfully, he started interviewing for jobs and, within a few months, found a new position with a great company that came with more responsibility and a pay raise that calmed some of his worries.
However, adding to the emotional strain of our third pregnancy, this time (and for the first time) I felt like I had to bear the burden of the pregnancy by myself. This pregnancy was what I wanted, what I had practically begged for, so I felt like I couldn’t really complain when I was tired during the day or couldn’t sleep at night or about the pain in my widening hips or when my veins started bulging out of all kinds of uncomfortable places (like my vulva! – a delightful side effect I had never experienced before). This was a complete mental game on my part—my husband never discouraged me from sharing my symptoms or troubles—but I felt like I had to put on a happy face in my own home.
This got a little better once we told our sons that we were expecting. They didn’t really understand the concept of waiting for another six or seven months to meet their new sibling, but their curiosity and excitement finally let me feel like I wasn’t the only one happy about having another child. Once I started showing and we told our friends, I found lots of support there as well.
When I was about seven or eight months pregnant though, I had a hard day that ended with my confessing to my husband how lonely I felt and how scared I was that the baby wouldn’t be healthy or something would go wrong with the delivery and how I would always feel like it was my fault. I cried, he reassured me, but I still went to bed sad.
We had chosen to not find out the sex of the baby at the 20 week appointment, and we had been avoiding the What Do We Name Him/Her conversation. We were lying in bed the night after my mini break down when my husband said, “If it’s a girl, I think we could name her ___.” Honestly, I can’t even remember the name he proposed, but my heart jumped. It was the first time that I could recall that he had brought up the baby and our future in a positive light. That simple declaration helped me realize that he had been thinking about our baby and was excited as well. I finally knew we would be alright.
If my third pregnancy was to be my hardest, my third labor definitely followed suit. It was ‘late’ (after the due date), it was long, the baby was nearly two pounds bigger than either of my first two children, and it was turned the wrong way for hours. After the final push, I was exhausted and so grateful to finally hear the baby cry and to welcome its wet wiggly body into my arms. In that haze of placenta-delivering, baby rubbing, and initial nursing, the one thing I clearly remember is my husband, leaning over my face with tears of relief and joy streaming down his face, whispering: “It’s a girl, and she’s perfect.”
And we have no regrets.