Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and I feel lucky to be blessed enough to go through it a second time. They say that each pregnancy is different and now I finally believe them. While there have been some similarities (little weight gain and no morning sickness… Please don’t hate me) there have also been many differences this time around. Some may have to do with the baby, some the difference in age since last time, some the fact that I’m not doing it alone this time around. Let’s start there.
When I became pregnant with my now 6-year old, it was a shock. I had just ended a very toxic relationship with the immortal words, “F*%k you, lose my number” when I realized three weeks later that I was pregnant with his baby. I was devastated. Not about becoming a mother. About being connected to this person for the rest of my life. I called to tell him about the baby. He tried to manipulate me into having an abortion. To be honest, I had already considered it. I was 14 weeks along. I had been going to the gym nonstop to get rid of my “gut,” going tanning, and going out drinking. I didn’t know what kind of damage I had unknowingly done before that positive test. But I would not concede. He told me he’d become an alcoholic if I kept the baby. I told him that wasn’t my fault. We ended the conversation with me telling him to tell himself whatever he needed to in order to sleep at night but I was keeping the baby. I didn’t hear from him again.
My very Catholic grandmother was beside herself. “How will you raise a baby by yourself?” I simply told her that I was not the first woman to raise a baby on her own and I wouldn’t be the last. We left it at that and she has supported me every step of the way since. The rest of my family was also very supportive. I decided to work the summer in the beachy, tourist area where I had grown up so that I could save as much money as possible, then move to western PA to be closer to my mom and go back to school. I worked 40 hours per week, road my bike to and from work, and came in every day with a smile on my face. One of my coworkers found out what the baby’s father had done and tried to confront him one drunken night. I politely asked her not to fight my battles for me; that I didn’t want anyone guilting him into being a part of the baby’s life. Nothing else was said to him by or for me for the rest of the pregnancy.
It was a very easy pregnancy, with no morning sickness, a one-time craving (salt water taffy), and very little weight gain. I basically looked like I ate a beach ball (see picture above). And for the most part I didn’t hate him for not being there. Like I said, we were toxic together. It was for the best. Then a day came when the doctor’s office called to tell me I had to go for a more in depth ultrasound because they thought there was a cyst on the baby’s brain. I googled what that meant – awful words like Trisomy 18 and stillborn were the results – and I sat in my apartment alone and cried. That night I hated him. But only because there was no one to comfort me, no one to tell me it would be okay, and no one who knew the exact heartache I felt at that very moment. I went to the ultrasound a couple months later and everything was fine, though. No need for him to be there in the first place.
My daughter was born on her due date. I had my mom, my dad, and my aunt (who is like a big sister to me) in the room with me. The delivery was relatively easy, even though there are some things I will never forget about that day (you other women are liars… LOL) and my peanut was here. Even the first few months at home with her were easy. She was the best baby ever.
That year, I sent out Christmas cards. I had told everyone that if I didn’t hear from her father by her 1st birthday, I never wanted to hear from him. Then I decided it wasn’t fair to give someone a cut off date and not tell them when it was. So I sent him a Christmas card and a letter. I explained every detail about her and I offered him the chance to know her. He had until her 1st birthday to contact me or he had to sign over his rights to her. Either decision was a lifetime decision. He chose to know her. He met her for the first time when she was four months old. A couple months later we got back together to give it a try. If she could have her nuclear family I had to at least try. We ended things for good a year later for almost all the same reasons we didn’t work the first time.
Now, almost 7 years later, I find myself pregnant again. This time is completely different, though. For one, I am with a man who loves me as much as I love him – a man who loves my child as if she were his own. Also, we were trying to conceive this baby to complete our family. It happened sooner than we expected it to, but we were ecstatic about it. The day I got the positive result I couldn’t wait to tell him and emailed him at work to call me as soon as possible. He called and I blurted it out. Nothing like the way I planned to tell him, but I was just so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. That night he came home with my favorite pie to celebrate.
While I still haven’t had any morning sickness and at 24 weeks I’m only up 11 pounds, I’m tired all the time. I don’t know if that’s because of my age, because I’m trying to keep up with a 6-year old, or because I work the night shift and that has me all thrown off. Either way, I know I do not have the energy I had at 28. Part of the incentive to get this other job was just to force myself to be awake and get back on a regular schedule. It hasn’t happened so far. Now I fall asleep as soon as I come home from the other job and I’m too tired to make dinner.
This time, I have someone else who has to agree on a baby name. To make matters worse, we’re not finding out what we’re having, so we have to agree on two names. For months T wouldn’t even discuss names, now he just detests every name I throw out there. But, at the same time, I have the emotional support of someone who loves me, who changes his work schedule to be at every single doctor’s appointment, who holds my hand without fail as I hear his breath catch in his throat each time we hear our baby’s heartbeat. This time, I will not face any issues alone. This time, it is not me and my baby against the world. This time we are completing the family we have already become. And while I would not trade my peanut or our journey for anything in this world, I will take this time anytime.