Today, I am 10 weeks pregnant. I snuggle between my three year old and 13 month old, kissing their chubby little hands and cheeks. I feel heavy, everywhere. Feelings of sadness, nervousness, excitement, guilt, and dread churn inside of me. I wonder if I’m a bad person. Because I’m not thrilled about being pregnant for the third time in four years.
I found out the morning of my second baby’s first birthday. When I first saw those two dark lines, so many things made sense to me. I had been so fatigued, so sick, so achy, so moody. I went to the party full of knots in my stomach. I watched my kids play, eat cake, and laugh. My mind raced with all sorts of worries and questions I had for myself. What about my doula career? What about school? We need a new vehicle. Am I mentally strong enough to stay home with three kids under 4? Am I healthy enough to be pregnant so soon? What if I get postpartum anxiety and depression again? We need bunk beds. How are we going to afford three children, especially when they are older? I beat myself up. How could I let this happen? Why didn’t I know?
This pregnancy wasn’t planned. It wasn’t something that me and my husband had even talked about. In fact, we had been talking about how we were happy with our two little boys, and looking forward to our future. We are climbing out of living paycheck to paycheck, starting our own businesses, making plans to further our careers–including more college. We are dreaming about how life was going to get easier as our kids grow. We were looking forward to more date nights, more financial freedom, more nights out without packing bottles and diapers. Because let’s face it: raising little humans is exhaustingly joyous.
I know how blessed I am to have healthy children and the ability to get pregnant. I know that children are miracles. My children have changed my life in positive ways. I am a better person because of them. But I’m still allowed to have a moment to grieve this unplanned, unexpected pregnancy.
Motherhood is sacred. It is also terrifying. An unplanned, unexpected pregnancy becomes even more daunting when you have very young children. Because pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, and the entire postpartum phase of life is freaking hard. It’s something that requires a lot of physical, emotional, and social sacrifice. It can feel lonely, debilitating, and scary. If you suffer from postpartum mood disorders like I do, that makes the prospect of another pregnancy even more scary.
I’m allowed to grieve because I am the person who will carry this baby, birth this baby, feed this baby. My body will go through unequivocal changes and challenges. I will feel achy, sore, huge. I will have a hard time doing normal activities. I will have to know where the closest bathroom is everywhere I go for the next 30 weeks. I’ll be full of worry. I’ll nest. My body will have to do the hard work to bring this baby into the world. My body will have to heal from that. As a mother, I am entitled to honor what I do to bring life into this world. I’m also allowed to feel scared, or uncertain. I’m allowed to wonder if I have what it takes to do this again.
Despite all of this, I know that I will love this baby. I know that after the first trimester sickness settles down, I’ll feel better. And when I feel better, I’ll have less moments of fear and more moments of excitement. When I feel the baby move, or see the baby at our next ultrasound, I’ll start to wonder how this new little human will change our family and how many funny and awesome memories we will have. I know that this is the path that I am on now, and while it is confusing, scary, difficult, and challenging, there is something here for me and my family to learn and grow from.
Yes, our plans have to change. But adapting is something we can do. Yes, things will be hard for longer than we’d hoped. But we are strong and we can make it through this. In the grand rapids of life, we all eventually get to a shore. Even though I have felt so many emotions about this pregnancy and where my life is going, I also have a tremendous faith in my ability to endure and grow. Ultimately, I am reaching a point of acceptance and humility for what I am about to do again, instead of dread.
If you’re a woman or mother with your hands already full, facing another pregnancy might feel more like a thorn than a rose. I want you to know that you’re allowed to feel that way, just like me. You’re allowed to be scared, unhappy, or unsettled about it. You’re also allowed to figure it out, make daring risks, and work towards the life that you want for you and your family. I have what it takes, and so do you.