Deep inside me I have a secret. This miracle of life is a sacred secret that only God and I share – nobody else knows. Nobody else knows its kicks and tickles, when it sleeps and when it is awake. Nobody else knows the life giving joy that feeds my spirit just thinking about my secret or how I sit idle every night waiting…waiting…waiting…for any sign of stirring. Ben shares in my secret from time to time as he rests his hand on my belly, but even he, the man with whom I share everything, does not know our secret like I do.
This is not the first time I have carried a secret in my womb. I have had this joy twice before….but things are different this time…as they are different every time, I suppose. But as I catalogue the experience, the differences scream out like blinking neon signs. We didn’t know we were going to have a third. I suppose with the other two, we knew that there was the possibility, the twinkling, but unspoken and understated. This secret caught me totally off-guard. Unexpected.
As we sat, drinking wine, listening to the waves lap upon the shores of paradise, Ben mused about the idea of having more children. We hadn’t talked about it for two years…or more…I thought the conversation was finished. The last two years had been severely unkind and it would be irresponsible to bring a life into the world…into our dysfunctional situation. But for some reason, some inexplicable reason, that night, Ben concluded, partly to himself, partly to me, that another child might be nice.
Nice. I don’t know if that is grounds for creating life, but there we were. Perhaps, nice was the idea of conceiving life, not sustaining it…either way, as we talked…or he talked, I recalled the last week…then the last month…it wasn’t adding up. My mind started reeling. I counted; I scrutinized the calendar and my memory and into the next day until finally, I couldn’t stand it any more and sought out relief from my mental torment. One of the few times $15 can buy you peace of mind.
The same two faded pink lines that took my breath away over seven years ago.
It didn’t feel like our regular rejuvenating escape. In fact, I think I came home more exhausted than when I left. This time, it didn’t take long. I never knew what morning sickness felt like until this past summer.
July 17th I wrote:
This one has been different…to say the least. They were all surprises,
but this one caught me the most off-guard.
It’s been just 5 days since we found out and in the last 3 days I have had more nausea than I had in the first two combined. This morning it woke me at 4:30am and didn’t leave until I finally dragged myself out of bed. It is amazing how in just one short little pee on a stick you become so acutely aware of every sensation that goes through your body.
You also become acutely aware of what goes into your body.
It’s been just 5 days since we found out and we already have names picked out and know that we will find out what the gender is, (something we didn’t do with the first two.)
We are glad. I think we both knew we wanted more children but were always waiting for the right time…but the right time just never seemed to come. That being said we are also cautious and find ourselves caught in the tension of so desperately wanting to tell people but knowing that the risk of miscarriage is still great.
Here we are, roughly thirteen weeks later.
It would seem like this baby is a small glimmer in a darkened room.
The thought of it gives us joy, where joy is sparse.
The truth is, we won’t be able to care for this baby like we have cared for our first two. We cannot give it a home we own, or a room, or a bed.
Last week I wrote through tears:
I’m sorry. I am sorry that we aren’t ready for you. I am sorry that we can’t give you a room or a house or a solid place to land. I am sorry that your parents are such a wreck and I am sorry that your experience coming into this world will be so unlike that of your brother and sister. I am sorry that you will be the third child, whom nobody seems to care about or take an effort for and I am sorry that I don’t have the means to compensate for their apathy. Please know that I still love you. I still want the best for you and truly, if it were in my power, I would give you the best of everything. You would have a room, with a new bed, your name on the wall and a dresser waiting for you full of diapers and cute little outfits that people had bought for you. And you wouldn’t be surrounded by worry and despair, but joy, and peace, and hope and love. And no one would have reservations about you and we could just celebrate your being without being afraid that people are judging us. Baby, I love you and I for one, am glad that you are.
People often make having a baby out to be this purely joy-filled experience but sometimes, it’s hard. This time, it is hard.
But here is what I do know. While I can’t give my little secret, a room or a bed, I can give him or her a family. Tonight, I lay silently listening to Jakob gently and tenderly help Ella into her pajamas. Then he took her by the hand to pick a story from the bookshelf and led her back to their room where he read to her with all the expression and articulation of Ben or myself. When silence fell, I poked my head in. There he sat, in the chair where I find myself every night, beside her bed, holding her hand, just as I do every night. I kissed her forehead,
“Do you want Jakob to put you to bed?”
And so I left the room.