I’m now past the half-way point of my pregnancy. And while I’ve done a lot of comparing along the way, the milestone has caused me to reflect on the difference between this journey and my first. Mostly, I’ve been struck by how little I’ve thought of it. Sure, I notice my belly every day (especially now that I’ve started to feel those miraculous little kicks). But as my life is consumed by trying to keep my little toddler safe and healthy, my overall experience of pregnancy is an afterthought.
How different this is than my first pregnancy journey! With my son, I was constantly thinking about my changing body, my racing emotions, my plans for our future and visualizations of his birth. I took belly pictures every week, kept a journal, and spared no expense in treating myself to pregnancy-friendly foods and products. It was more than a hobby.
If I were to choose a word to describe how I experienced that pregnancy, it would be intense. I felt everything intensely. I read intensely. I prayed intensely. I focused intensely. It was a wonderful, all-consuming, admittedly self-centered time of my life. I think there were two reasons for this. One is that it was my first (full) pregnancy; the other, of course, is that it came after years of struggle and medical treatment. I wonder which of these contributed more to the potency of the experience for me.
Regardless, this pregnancy is neither. I have neither the newness nor the anticipation to fuel the same sort of intensity that I had with my first. Maybe that’s inevitable, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty. Already this second or middle child is getting less attention than my beloved first born. I am feeling less connected, less involved in the process that is taking place, almost without my participation. Often I fall asleep at night before I even get around to praying for the baby.
The other day I was talking to a friend who, ironically, has a similar story to mine – struggle and IVF to attain her first pregnancy and a natural, unexpected conception for her second. She said something that really struck me, though. She said that, in thinking about having more children in the future, she still feels like an infertile person, despite how easily she got pregnant the second time. She said that she worries that she would go through all the heartache and loss again. Conceiving a baby naturally and easily did not erase the scars of her infertility battle. She believes her second pregnancy was a miracle, not her new reality.
It dawned on me how much infertility sticks with us, as a part of our identity. And then I though about her words – a miracle. A different kind of miracle than the first. It took awhile for me to let that sink in and to realize that my current journey through pregnancy is not “less than.” And that while I may not have the same intensity that I had with my first, maybe I can have another kind of reverence. My miracle baby.