In the world of make believe it is understood that conception + pregnancy = baby = a lifetime of laughter, love, crying, snuggles, joy, toddlerhood, hugs, adulthood and pure bliss. I believed this wholeheartedly when I conceived Clementine. I remember thinking when I saw that magical line appear on the stick that whew, we did it, we made our dreams come true. My head and my heart skipped toward the future, hand in hand. And then my baby died. And, even though we conceived and even though I carried her for 9 months and even though I met all the mandatory milestones and crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s, Joel and I left the hospital still a two instead of a three. And then, 7 months later, Joel and I conceived again. I was, of course, skeptical that this pregnancy would result in a baby because, well, look at my track record. But, we still had hope. We talked names almost immediately, we imagined our bundle, even though we knew better. And, lo and behold, at 9 weeks we discovered that this baby, too, had died. I was really starting to wonder why we’ve been led to believe that conception + pregnancy = baby. This was not my reality! What was I doing wrong? Or maybe, I was the only one let in on the secret: there are NO guarantees when it comes to pregnancy.
So, when 5 months after the miscarriage I conceived again, I found myself actually denying that this pregnancy would result in a baby that, you know, we’d actually get to keep. As Joel and I stood there, waiting for that double line to inevitably show up bold and bright, I felt uncertain. I was batting 1000, people, albeit for the wrong team. (Okay, I’m mixing my metaphors, but I think you get what I’m saying?) Why should this pregnancy be any different? I had done this before, almost EXACTLY before, with the same due date and the same major milestones falling in exactly the same places… I kept thinking, isn’t the definition of crazy doing the same thing and expecting a different result? We didn’t tell a soul until my protruding belly forced the announcement. I no longer looked at pregnancy with the same rose colored glasses as the millions of women surrounding me. I felt their attitudes were careless, cavalier even. I kept my nose to the ground and waited for the inevitable to happen. But, no matter how hard I tried to pretend otherwise, I was hopeful. I did envision a wrinkly newborn baby who would one day turn into a toddling baby boy who would eventually turn into a man I was proud to call my son. I took belly pictures and I bought baby boy clothes. I sewed curtains and I picked out a name. And, as the most beautiful baby in the world was placed in my arms, I stared at him with wonder and fascination. Conception + pregnancy CAN equal a baby that’s yours forever. I didn’t know what to make of this.
Today that magical bundle turned 6 months old, and I STILL stare at him with wonder. I’d gone through an entire pregnancy and then been expected to return to life as usual, and yet this time was different. Every night as I listen to him breathing, deeply asleep, I think to myself: “I went through an entire pregnancy and ended up with a baby! I ended up with him! He’s mine! He’s MY baby!” The concept is a complete novelty to me. I often look at him and think, “Pinch me, I’m dreaming.” But pinch after pinch, that baby remains MY adorable baby. He looks at me and squeals with delight in the way only a baby looking at his mama can. And, I realize, I’m his mama! What a wonderful thing to be.
I don’t know if I will always feel this way about pregnancy and motherhood, but I hope that I do. I don’t ever want to take a single moment of motherhood for granted. I want to always look at my baby and feel amazed that I get to be his mama and he gets to be my son.