I don’t like keeping secrets. I never have, even when I desperately needed to to keep the peace between friends or family. I’m an open book, just ask my husband or my close friends. They can tell by the smirk or the slight raise of an eyebrow when I’m not being fully honest and covering up the truth with the nice, comfortable things that people want to hear.
And there’s a secret that we’ve been keeping for good reason. We’re pregnant and expecting a baby girl in early September. Now, normally I’d be shouting this from the rooftops from the moment I took a pregnancy test, but this one is different. Trauma – miscarriage, specifically – will shift how you share joyful moments because, let’s face it, you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Our journey here was a rocky one. We’d been trying for a year and investigating some fertility options after having three false-positives in a row when we found out we were pregnant. Complications arose and we lost that baby in a very terrifying fashion in mid-October. I’m not going into the details, but we’d barely gained our emotional footing when we found out we were pregnant once again.
The past year has made me really think about what it looks like to live in the grey, the in-between, with all of its tension, frustration, joy and heartache. How can you say “yes! I’m so excited” when you think about pregnancy and still have unresolved heartbreak with an underlying spidey sense that things might not work out again?
We crave definitive answers, black and white decisions. They make us feel comfortable and confident. We have a plan, a roadmap, and we can move forward. Living in the “yes/and” is murky at best. I heard it a lot as we turned the corner on bidding 2020 and all of its dumpster fire adieu to ring in 2021. The complexity of emotions in saying “2020 was an atrocious year, and yet, I’ve treasured the amazing time I spent with family” is the epitome of “yes/and.” The funny thing is that I thought I finally felt comfortable living in the middle ground of “yes/and” that I could strongly approach any new thing thrown my way with that same murkiness.
I was wrong.
My new “yes/and” is this pregnancy. I’ve felt so much relief at the fact that we’re able to have another child. I’ve watched friends in my community struggle with so much, and we’ve been there for each other. And yet, this round has not been as magical as I’d hoped. I really don’t know what expectations I had going into this – I mean, as a mom of a 5-year-old, I should know better. The first few months were touch and go with complications, so much so that I wondered if we were miscarrying again. The toll that it takes on your own mental health and resilience is one that I wasn’t prepared for. No amount of breathwork or meditation would help – you can’t manifest the trauma of pregnancy loss away. Those challenges did ultimately subside with reassuring news as we started to tell friends and family, but we were still not out of the woods. I was counting down the weeks for the nausea to pass as the first trimester clicked by. Spoiler alert: I’m well past halfway and the nausea and fatigue will be here for the long haul. I’m a grump to my kid who just wants to run around, I have a short fuse when it comes to being angry or wanting to cry, and when my left calf locks up or my feet start swelling at least 10 weeks before they did last time.
Pregnancy is not glamorous. It isn’t easy. It was a choice, and one that I am very thankful I have the ability to make knowing what’s right for my life and my body.
And yet, I have a confession to make: I’m grieving the fact that I’m not having the type of pregnancy that I always wanted. It feels really selfish to say that, given that we were able to conceive naturally – even if there was a traumatic miscarriage and a few false positives after a year of trying. After working so hard to get to this point – knowing that we’re in for a huge sleep-debt for the next six years, shouldn’t we at least get a break? Shouldn’t we get an easier time? Can’t the cankles wait to start for at least another 6 weeks?
I know that sharing those thoughts make people uncomfortable. It makes me squirm thinking that I can be both happy about a situation and despairing some of the times, too. Not many people can hold the “yes/and” moments for others. In fact, only a handful of people I know can do this well, and often fall short because it’s so damn unnerving. We’re conditioned to put a positive spin on a complicated feeling or emotion, but what that does is make it more palatable for ourselves, not the person who really needs the comfort. We make it easier to process their pain with an “it will all be worth it in the end!” complete with a cheery, unconfident yet hopeful smile. I appreciate the sentiment and the intention, but it would have a more positive impact if we just let the good and the bad flow together, rather than forcing them into some kind of ‘all’s well that ends well.’
I struggle with the “yes/ands” all the time, but never so pronounced as right now. We are in the thick of it – raising a kid with two parents whose careers have taken off in multiple ways in recent months, writing a book, doing the internal work as we adjust to this new life moment, all while living through a pandemic and major societal issues that make my elevated hormones rage. Oh and did I tell you that we are completely renovating our basement right now before the little one arrives? Yeah, that too. We’re in the muck of the “yes/and” moments. I love it and loathe it all the same, and it’s ok to let that just be what it is.