When you're pregnant you suddenly become a spectacle for those around you- a reason for them to be excited and to smile. A reason for strangers to stop you in the store and say " aren't you excited?", "BOY OR GIRL?", "It won't be long now!!!". It's so easy to feel like you HAVE to be what people want you to be- happy and excited and "glowing" ( Ummm does everyone "glow" when they are pregnant? I certainly DID not.
The pressure of how you "should" feel is exhausting! Because my pregnancy with Sawyer came after 2 miscarriages and a VERY scary ectopic pregnancy, I couldn't allow myself hope or excitement for awhile. I was an anxious wreck. When I found out I was pregnant I was filled with dread. Not because I didn't want my baby. GOD I wanted this baby more than anything- but because I didn't know if I was strong enough to lose another pregnancy.
I found out at 4 weeks pregnant that I was expecting. Thanks to having blood tests to monitor my HCG levels that were coming down from my ectopic pregnancy months earlier. With Ectopic pregnancies, HCG levels can go down very slowly and you have to be monitored until they reach less than 5. If they start going up again there are two scenarios- you could be pregnant, or there could be left over cancer causing tissue from the previous pregnancy. For 8 weeks we had to play the "baby or cancer" guessing game. This was terrifying as I had already to have doses of chemo meds to stop my ectopic pregnancy from growing. The meds made me sick, and I was even more scared to try to conceive again.
The moment we saw our sweet babe on ultrasound for the first time was a relief. We told ourselves "okay, it's not cancer. It's a baby." But we knew it was only the first of many hoops we had to jump through. At the end of the scan I was told I had an SCH which is a hematoma or bleed around the sack. The doctor in the ER said it could go away, or it could get worse. Not the most comforting words. If it got worse I could lose the pregnancy. We went home and decided we would try our hardest not to worry. Our baby had a healthy heartbeat! Something we had never heard before.
Because I was considered "at risk" I had to get multiple tests done checking for everything from chromosome abnormalities to birth defects. One of these tests also revealed the sex of the baby. I was home sick when I got the call. The doctor asked if I wanted to know, and even though Garrett wasn't home I said yes. ( Sorry babe). It was a GIRL. Garrett came home on his lunch break and it all felt surreal. This baby that I had been trying to forget about to keep my sanity was becoming a lot more real. I allowed myself to consider names, to dream of a nursery, a future. But with that reality came A LOT more anxiety. Eventually I got up the courage to announce our pregnancy, which was terrifying, but a little comforting because I knew I would need everyone I could if something bad happened.
Here's our "punk baby" pregnancy announcement. It's safe to say Sawyer will have EXCELLENT taste in music.
Still, at this time I was feeling so scared ( and guilty for feeling that way) about the pregnancy. When would I be able to relax? When would I be able to tell friends and family? Could this ever work out for us? Should I even have an ounce of hope? At times I wished I wasn't pregnant. I couldn't stand the anxiety and fear. The amount of guilt I felt over my feelings was crippling. This baby that I wanted more than anything was scaring the hell out of me and I had no choice but to smile at strangers in public and tell everyone how excited I was, when in reality I was full of dread. Not dread because of the baby, but dread at the inevitable loss I thought was coming.
I did not believe that I would have a healthy baby even after a good anatomy scan. I didn't believe it during my baby shower that I fake smiled through. HEY I survived that day, scared as HELL but surrounded by everyone who loves me. I owe them the world.
When I came home form my shower, I wondered how I would get rid of all this baby stuff when something happened to my baby girl. I picked out clothes I feared I'd never be able to put on her. I forced myself to put together a nursery and that helped a little. I would sit in her nursery in a rocking chair that has been in my family for a few generations.
I would read the book " A Family Begins With a Wish." I recommend this book to anyone who has gone through loss, trouble conceiving, or has adopted. Her nursery that I dreaded putting together became my safe place , a place to have hope. The last line of the book is " you are here".
And guess what? On April 17th, after all my worries. Sawyer Bray WAS HERE.
Have hope Mamas. The universe has a way of showing you the answers to the questions you fall to your knees asking.
Looking back I wish I would have known that I DID have a choice. Your body is not anyone else's. If you don't want to discuss your pregnancy with a stranger at the store, or a coworker who has only known "easy" pregnancies with her 5 healthy children then guess what sister? You DO NOT have to. Everything you are feeling is normal for YOU. Mama your body is going through so much! Your heart is going through so much! However you are feeling is 100 percent okay! You do not have to be the glowing Mama in the diaper commercial. Wear sweatpants and don't brush your hair! Exercise or DON'T exercise this week. Curl up and cry, or go out and smile if you feel like it! You do not exist to meet someone else's expectations. YOU ARE STRONG. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Your feelings are valid. You are enough and if just surviving each day is all you can do- that Mama is a victory.