This is me the day I found out I was pregnant with Rose.
I’ve now been pregnant four times. Nothing in my life has been as humbling for me as pregnancy. Nothing has reminded me more of how little I control. So while this fourth pregnancy was relatively “straightforward”, it was a nine month exercise in trust. It taught me bravery in a way I hadn’t known before.
After I miscarried at sixteen weeks in September 2016, we were fortunate to get pregnant again relatively quickly and I learned of this new life growing inside of me on a grey January day. The first person I told (after Peter, of course) was our pastor. While this wasn’t planned – I blurted it out when he asked me how I was doing the following Sunday – it felt fitting. Peter and I made the decision to not officially announce this pregnancy but instead we told several people close to us early on, knowing that they would pray for us and our baby.
The flip side of not announcing pregnancy was that starting at around 20 weeks I got a lot of “So…how are you?” with meaningful glances at my belly. With our late-arriving spring weather, I was able to hide my growing bump under jackets and big sweaters. Even into my second trimester I found I was nervous about sharing our news.
Prayer got me through this pregnancy. After miscarrying in the second trimester, there was never a point in this pregnancy where I felt “safe”. In the first trimester, I had bleeding that lasted about three weeks. An ultrasound at 14 weeks revealed the cause and my doctor reassured me that it was quite common and rarely led to miscarriage. Since I was already at a higher risk of miscarrying, this information was only mildly comforting. I thought that I might be able to relax once I’d passed the sixteen week mark but found that wasn’t so. In the end, what helped most was that around eighteen weeks, this little baby started to move and she almost never stopped. She was an incredibly active baby and had very regular periods of time where I felt her move. It was a beautiful reassurance that my baby was there, alive and growing.
Overall though, it was a very normal pregnancy. I had some nausea in the first trimester, similar to what I had with my previous two pregnancies. With Pearl, I felt good for most of the second trimester and had more energy until my back started hurting at around 30 weeks. This time around, I never really got that burst of energy but my back did start to bother me at about the same point and until around 35 weeks. I’m not sure if this was due to simply being a different pregnancy or the fact that I was also running around after a tw0-year-old.
One major difference I noticed between Rose’s pregnancy and Pearl’s was that I carried a lot higher this time around. I was able to make a lot of my non-maternity points and shorts work well into my second trimester. I also didn’t have to dress for an office job like I did last time, which probably helped. Strangers who shared their opinions all told me I was having a boy because of the way I carried. I gained around the same amount of weight as I did with Pearl but since I carried differently, my belly ended up looking smaller. Rose was also nearly a pound smaller than Pearl, which probably made a difference too. The one person who consistently insisted that I was having a girl? Pearl. (She also wanted to name the baby “Baby Girl”.)
I’m not one of those women who loves being pregnant in and of itself. I don’t feel powerful and beautiful. I feel tired and sweaty (especially during our heat wave at the end of August). I try on all of my clothes and then end up wearing the same three things. (Thank goodness for light, loose dresses for summer pregnancies.)
At the same time, I am so, so thankful to be pregnant. I know several women who have struggled to get pregnant and so I don’t take my body’s ability for granted. I am thankful for each little life that God has allowed to grow in me. And while I fervently wish that my body were better at supporting those lives, I know how fortunate I am for the two babies I have. That knowledge was always in my mind, through every day of pregnancy.
It’s in my mind now as I try on the clothes that don’t quite fit again yet, and it’s in my mind in the moments when I feel impossibly pulled between the needs of two little people. Two little people that I am so blessed to be given. I look at Pearl and Rose (one month old today!) and I know I wouldn’t change a thing.