My subscribers may have gotten a strange, long email from Before the Belly yesterday. Sorry! Technical difficulties… Thanks for your patience as I work out the bugs on my new site! Here’s an inspirational quote for your trouble:
This is more of a testing 1-2-3 post. As you may have noticed, we’ve moved! After much well-meaning procrastination, I secured the domain beforethebelly.com and made it official. Now I’m just testing my email subscription service to make sure I didn’t lose any of my valuable readers! Thanks to all of you for your continued support…
By the way, another motivator for this change was a very exciting opportunity to guest blog for a writer and person I much admire. Look for more on that later this week!
On Mothers Day this year, my family all went to church together. And by all, I mean most: my dad, brother, sister, sister-in-law, me and all six of our collective kids (ages 5, 2, 2, 2, 1 and 7 months). My dad couldn’t have been prouder to show off his crew, and I noticed many amused smiles as we filed into our row, each adult carrying one or two children. As the mass began and I looked around at my wiggly, wonderful family, I smiled to myself. We must be such a spectacle, I thought; everyone must be looking at us.
At that moment, I flashed back to another scene of my life, almost 12 years prior. We were waiting at the airport the morning of June 7, 2001, the day my mother died. We were waiting for my sister’s plane to arrive. Waiting to break her heart. I don’t know how I stayed on my feet.
When she got off the plane and saw us, her first instinct was to smile. But then I saw her face fall, with recognition. As she walked toward us in slow motion, her jaw hardened, bracing herself. I don’t think we even said anything as she approached us. We just folded her into our arms, and sobbed together, holding each other up.
I remember having a short out-of-body experience at that moment. I envisioned us standing there, on a weekday morning, in the middle of O’Hare airport. I watched all the people just going about their day, walking around us, witnessing our pain.
We must be such a spectacle, I thought. Everyone must be looking at us.
What time and God and life and the guidance of my sweet mother have done since then. Joy has been created out of agony. Hope out of despair. Abundance out of brokenness. That day, we were four. By the end of this year, we will be 15. If there is ever a reason for faith, this is it.
Three years ago today, I was awoken by a text message that said, “Today is baby day!” Several hours later, my Godson was born, on the ninth anniversary of my mother’s death. In the same hospital where she died. See what happened there? Our narrative changed. His birth didn’t erase the past, but it grew the story. Where there once was darkness, now there was light. Of all the things I’ve learned in the last 12 years, this is among the most important. Things don’t stay the same. For better or for worse. There is always more to come.
So. Remember how I wrote that last post about not quantifying or judging each other’s struggles to conceive and supporting one another no matter how “more” or “less” infertile we are? Well, I confess. I was laying the groundwork and sort of buttering you up for this post. So here it is: I’m pregnant. Not IVF, IUI or even Clomid-pregnant. I’m the-old-fashioned-way pregnant. What’s more, I got pregnant on the first try. Yeah, I’m one of them now.
I still, at almost 11 weeks, can hardly believe it myself. Sure I’d heard the stories – and even know some personally – of people who go through years of fertility treatment to have their first child and then conceive the second with ease. But as much as I flirted with the fantasy, I never truly thought that that would be my story. I was humoring my husband, who wanted to try naturally for awhile, and mentally calculating the months before we could contact the fertility clinic for an appointment. I was planning to dive back into IVF as soon as possible, because I do very much want to have more children.
So, when the pregnancy was confirmed, I was surprised to find that I was shocked more than thrilled. More disbelieving than relieved. Not that it wasn’t happy news, of course. I just wasn’t ready for it. And it wasn’t long before I thought of you, of Before the Belly, and I felt strangely guilty. I mean, here I was, promoting myself as some sort of infertility “expert.” Beckoning followers with new stories and facebook posts. Telling you that you will find support and understanding here. Which, of course you still will … but I wondered, do you really want to get it from me?
I hope so. If there is one thing this journey has taught me, it is that you can’t plan, predict or control. Life happens whether you’re expecting it or not, and doing your best means taking each new turn with as much grace as you can muster. So, here I am, still telling you that this is my passion and I won’t stop talking about infertility, even though I’m no longer the poster child. Maybe I will be something else now; perhaps a symbol of hope.
And as for you, little one, baby number two. If you are reading this someday, know that you were wanted just as much as your big brother. But, and it’s probably good that I’m realizing this right off the bat, your story is going to be different. Our story – our relationship – is going to be different. From the way you jumped into life without giving me hardly a moment to breathe, to the way you are already pushing me harder, with sickness and patience, than your brother did. You will be a surprise and a blessing, whoever you are.