I didn’t always want children but at some point I knew I wanted a family. I wanted a sense of purpose, a feeling of deep connection to other humans, a chance to create and pass on wisdom, values and perspectives. I wanted a next chapter. I wanted a chance to become a mother — a different mother than I had, a mother I knew I could be, a mother that would intentionally create her own reality.
I knew I was in the right place to do it. I had the right partner to do it. We wanted to do it, together. Family meant something. Creation meant something. Commitment. Chances. Adventure. Opportunity. Community. Support. Intuition.
Then, I also knew what it felt like to suddenly be pregnant — to dive deep into the emotion of carrying another life, create biological connections with another human, become aware of myself as a part of something bigger — then to suddenly not be pregnant. The highs of pregnancy and the possibility of new motherhood became a part of my life almost as quickly as the lows of loss, confusion and miscarriage.
The whole (short) story is this: I woke up one morning eight weeks pregnant. My period was late because my IUD failed. I took three pregnancy tests, went to the doctor and had an ultrasound. There on the screen was a little fetus next to a little copper IUD. A week later we had the IUD removed. Success. At twelve weeks we crossed over into what felt like “safer” territory. There were no incidents from the IUD removal, the fetus was growing, the heartbeat was steady and (after weeks of tears, frustration, and pure terror) we found ourselves hopeful and excited to bring this tiny human into the world. Two weeks later there was blood. Only spotting at first. Then a clot. The amniotic sack was draining. The heartbeat was very slow. The next day there was nothing.
The D&C itself was unremarkable. I waited in the bed for a long time — I had eaten breakfast that morning, not knowing I would need to have it done so I had to wait for my stomach to empty. We watched TV — I saw a sea horse giving birth on The Discovery Channel. We texted family. We talked. We laughed. Those are the things I remember.
Once the procedure was done we were sent home with a hospital blanket and a bag of pads. “Just take it easy and we’ll see you at the follow up.”
And we did. We slept in the living room. We missed a friend’s wedding. I can’t remember eating but I’m sure we did. I bled a lot. Not excessively but more than I was used to.
The next morning we sent emails to friends, letting them know what happened.
The weeks after that were dark.
There were tears. Consistent streaming tears. Debilitating tears. There was fear of leaving the house. Waves of guilt. Endless questions. Feeling good. Feeling awful. Feeling scared. Feeling punished.
And there were lots of discussion. About what this meant for us, for starting a family and when and how.
I didn’t go back on birth control. I’m not a fan of hormones and at that point, not a fan of the IUD. So we made a commitment to not intentionally preventing pregnancy, to see what the universe had in store.
Three months later I was pregnant again. This time, I knew from day one. I was sick early on but then that magical, romantic thing — the pregnancy glow, the love that comes with starting a family (mixed of course with the pressure of starting a family, communicating with your partner and actually growing a human) — took over and ten days before his due date, our son was born.
The labor was quick. The amniotic sac had broken without me knowing (we guess the day before) but everyone was healthy.
I didn’t love the first 8 weeks postpartum. I cried a lot. Breastfeeding was painful. Getting back to work was hard. Naps were a huge challenge. I wanted to give up a lot. I thought the newborn phase would last forever. Car rides were awful. My back hurt. My hips hurt. Sex hurt. It hurt to wear a shirt, let alone a bra. Choosing to start formula almost broke me. I really wanted to give up. A lot. I felt lost. I cried. And cried. And cried. I know I enjoyed some of it too but it’s not as easy to remember those parts.
Then solid foods came. A babysitter and daycare came. Laughter and interaction came. Sleeping through the night happened. Sleeping in his own room happened. My body healed. My mind began to heal. I stopped fighting my new reality. I started to slow down and let him show me things. He’s bright and smiley. He just wants to laugh. Now I let myself laugh with him.
He’s 13 months old now and every day is new. His attitude, his interests, my patience, my perspective. He keeps us going. And going. And going. He keeps me turning inward and challenging me to be present — to not think about what could have been, what we may have lost or what we might need to do soon. In order to keep up with him, there quite literally is not time to get caught in those thoughts. I still do sometimes but snap out of them quicker and quicker — because he’s on the the next thing.
I’m learning to let myself start over with him, every day too. To be focused when I need to be and then on to the next thing when the time is right. And mostly, to treat every day as a new lesson — because that, it seems, is what parenthood really is.