I’ve watched this movie a million times in the last 2-3 years. I watched it for the first time in the theaters when I was pregnant and I’ve watched it at least a half a dozen times since then- through many painful tears. It’s stupid really. I mean. Why would a girl like me subject herself to a movie like that when it hurts so much?
What To Expect When You’re Expecting. I mean. Really. ??! I actually had to go out and find a second copy of this book because after three dead babies, I’d thrown my copy in the garbage can and now that I finally had a few questions again that I didn’t want to google, I needed the darn thing.
Maybe it was the woman who didn’t know how to stop “trying.” Who wanted it more than anything, and when it didn’t happen, didn’t know how to stop wanting it.
Maybe it was the woman who carried all of the guilt. The guilt for, as she put it, “not being able to do the one thing a woman was supposed to be able to do.”
Or maybe it was the woman who saw her dreams come crashing to a halt in an ER bed with her man by his side, head in his hands, lost as to what to do next.
Well. Here I am, watching it again tonight. Still riding the emotional waves through every storyline. Still able to identify with each one. But maybe realizing that there’s a storyline missing. There’s one woman who isn’t depicted in all of this. What about the woman who can’t connect to any of it? Who, two short months from her due date, still can’t utter the word “pregnant?” Who had to fight like crazy just to be able to swap the pronoun “her” in place of “it.”
Does this mean that I’m the only one?
Once again. Something is deeply wrong with me.
It’s been a long six months. And I have thought quite a few times about trying to get some of this out. And every single time, I’ve chickened out. Given into fear. The fear that my unfiltered thoughts and feelings and the reality of the place in which I find myself would be too much for someone else to hear. Or for me to have to read on paper. But it’s time. Literally. Almost time. So here it is. Well…some of it, anyway.
The night that I told Jesse when he came home from work, I cried. I cried and I hid my face. It wasn’t like the first time. Or the second. And I think I’ve blocked out the third. I was so afraid that he would be angry. That he would be mad- at me. Truth be told, he laughed. A lot. For a while. And I don’t remember too much after that. Other than that I felt slightly relieved. He wasn’t mad at me and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was even happy.
And there’s no way that I could recount the 6 months that have gone by since then and not end up with a rather long novel here- but the abridged and fragmented version is as follows.
Everyone has been so. Happy. Overjoyed. Excited. Emotional. Kind. Giving. Thoughtful. Really, the love of our community has been just plain overwhelming.
But me? Well. I squirm every time the question comes. “Are you excited??!!!” And I remember the time when that was the scariest of the questions. And now comes, “Are you so excited, it’s almost time!?” “How do you feel?” “Where are you delivering??” “Do you know what you’re going to name her?” “Who is your doctor?” “Are you taking classes and getting a tour?”
I’ve spent the last 6 months in a perpetual state of fear and numbness. And even some anger.
There it is.
Once the initial shock started to dissipate (it didn’t disappear- still hasn’t), I felt so angry. Angry at the timing. Angry that I wasn’t ready. Angry that we had no plan for this. Angry that I felt like I was just starting to get my mother legs and the floor was being ripped out from under me. Angry that I was just starting to feel like a mother. Starting to recognize myself as one. Starting to see this little girl as my daughter. Who was staying. Forever. And now my time as her mom and only her mom was on a stopwatch. I felt like I was getting gypped. But more importantly? I felt like she was getting gypped. I was only beginning to learn how to be a parent, and how to be a parent to an adopted child, and now comes this curve ball? I was angry. For a while. And it may not seem logical and it may not seem right, but it’s been a very real part of my process that I’ve had to struggle through. And some days, I still get frustrated about it. I have to be honest. I’m not ready to share my time. I work full time and I don’t get as much time with Isobel as I would like. And to think that it will now be split between her and another baby? Some nights that kind of makes me sad. Doesn’t she deserve more time? More time to have us to herself? More time to be the baby? 15 months old and she is going to be a big sister. In some ways, it doesn’t seem fair. And the only way I’ve been able to try to deal with that piece of all of this is to ask God to change my thought process. To replace the negative with the positive. To give me visions of how much she and her sister will love each other. To show me that two can be better than one. And when I think about it like that, I have a lot more peace. And I know that over time, He will change my heart. And as that happens, it won’t be such a struggle anymore.
Connecting. At all. Has been extremely difficult. It took me a long time to use the P word. Even longer to use the B word. I am completely uncomfortable being the pregnant woman. Not uncomfortable in the pregnancy sense of the word, but uncomfortable in the emotional sense of the word. I’ve spent 3 years avoiding pregnant women and their bellies, and now I’m forced to see my own every day in the mirror, and it makes me scared and it makes me unsure. The first night that I was brushing my teeth and saw it for real for the first time? I had a complete melt down. I could no longer pretend this wasn’t real as easily as I had been. It was now going to be so. Much. Harder. And on that note, I believe I have exactly one “belly picture” of myself that only my husband and one friend have seen. No one except for my husband has laid a hand on my stomach and at this point, I’m not sure anyone else will. I can talk about her to some degree, but I have never talked to her. Except on occasion to ask her if she is still alive. And I have only two months left they say, and I have not “enjoyed” any of this. But don’t get me wrong. Tears of relief stream down my face through every ultrasound. We went out and bought a little stuffed pink owl that plays music before our 20 wk scan because I couldn’t bear the thought of not having gotten this baby something, even if she did die. All of the 0-6 months clothes are washed and hung in her closet. Paint samples are on the wall. And I started a hospital bag list. I have a framed photo of the last 4D image we got on my desk at work. Jesse and I have a name that we refer to her as and I’m using it more and more. And I was able to ask my doctor this week what hospital she delivers at- so now I know. I’m trying. I’m trying. So. Hard. I’m trying so hard that it scares me that I even have to try so hard. I wish I could be like the other women I see around me. So excited. So happy. So connected. So. Maternal. But I’m not. And I’m not sure I can be. And maybe that’s okay. But either way, I am really hoping that people won’t hold it against me, because most of the time I feel more guilty about it than I can really put into words.
The truth is, I’m waiting to want this baby.
What kind of mother says that? Feels that? What kind of woman who has grieved the loss of three children and the failure of fertility treatments, gets pregnant, and then says that?
The only thing that I have to compare it to and the only thing that gives me some hope as I wait is looking back on how it was with my Isobel. We knew about her for two months before she was born, and I was in denial that she was real. I held her in my arms for the first time, and I was in denial that she was real. I spent 3 months listening to her cry most of the day and night, and I was still in denial that she was real. And three months after that, I sat in court and witnessed her legal adoption into our family, and I still didn’t believe that she was real. And I wanted so desperately to be her mother because I knew that’s what she needed, was a mother, but it was like my heart couldn’t quite catch up to my head. Knowing that she could leave us at any moment- and still trying to connect with her in that way? To want her in that way? That was a bumpy ride. It took. A long time. But the thing is? Somewhere along the way? At some point in all of it (I have no idea exactly when), that changed. And she was my daughter and I was her mom and I love her like a daughter and get frustrated with her like a daughter and want her like a daughter. I can’t picture life without her, and when I think about her sometimes, it feels like my heart is going to explode into a million pieces.
So there is hope. But for now? I wait.
I have no idea why God has orchestrated all of this this way. And I have no idea how we are going to do all of this- we still have so much to figure out. But. I have to know, if I know nothing else, that absolutely none of this is a mistake- a shock maybe, but not a mistake- and that there must be a purpose. I was asking Jesse the other night why he thought God allowed it all to happen quite like this- we are told by pretty much everyone we talk to that we are one giant cliché- and Jesse said he thought maybe God thought it was humorous. And while I certainly believe God has a sense of humor, that can’t be all of it. Maybe it’s happening this way because of the ways two babies at once will challenge our marriage, and we will grow tremendously as a result of that. That would be a good thing. Maybe this window of time was our one shot to have a biological child. Maybe (and I’ve thought about this one A LOT), this is what’s best for Isobel. Maybe this is how she will best grieve the place of loss that all adopted children come from and there will be something incredibly unique in her relationship with her practically twin sister that will help her on that journey. And as always. Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with me or my family and somewhere along the way, this will all be for someone else. God would think nothing of orchestrating all of the crazy moving pieces of the last 3 years of our family for the good of someone else entirely. He loves people that much.
Where does all of this leave me? Where does 31 weeks and one day leave me? I know one thing. I am tired. I am so tired of fighting. I’m tired of fighting with this fear that has stolen so much from my family. I’m tired of being afraid. And I’m tired of trying to go on like nothing is happening. I’m getting too big and it’s getting too hard. And she’s kicking too much. To pretend anymore. I’m not ready to be really public or to have everyone’s hand on my stomach or to talk about what the hospital will be like. In fact, I still may not be ready to talk about much of it at all. But I think I’m ready to stop lying to myself.
It’s not a magic cure. But maybe I start giving myself some new permission. Permission to feel something other than fear. Permission to say the P word. Permission to grab on to any glimmer of hope or excitement even if it’s just a new onesie or the vision of Isobel teaching her little sister how to throw Juno’s ball. Permission to be able to be where I am for today and to know that that’s okay. Permission to just sit in whatever divine peace God gives me for today and to trust that while He will absolutely give me more than I can handle, He will not give me what I need to handle it until I actually need it.