Having one child was a piece of cake. ALL of my love went into her and life was good! I never had to worry about how my time and attention was divided because I had only her to focus on. We knew we wanted to give her a sibling and right when I felt like I’d had a chance to sleep through the night long enough to forget how rough those newborn days were… we tried for #2.
I am fortunate that I did not suffer from post-pardum in the way that so many women do, although breast-feeding was NOT for us and the cabbage/cold pack combo was key in getting my boobs to a more human feel over fembot. I did not have any pain or major discomfort with pregnancy – but what I did have was crippling anxiety during the first trimester of both pregnancies. I figured since I’d already gone through one before, I’d be fine the second time around… it was worse. I knew what I had to lose and it terrified me. I would often have to lay on the cool concrete floor of my bathroom and calm myself down, the walks I would take Cori on would help to clear my head which transitioned to a love and need for regular exercise. But for a while, I was constantly obsessing over the lack of change in my body. I did not FEEL pregnant. I was not (yet) sick – that would change. So, when I went for my appointment, I asked my husband to be prepared because I could not be the one to say out loud if something was wrong.
I sat in the waiting room, alone, because my husband had to stay home with our other child. I looked around at the other bellies, ranging in size, exhausted looks on the mothers-to-be and all I could feel was so un-pregnant. I stuffed my shaking hands in my purse to find my phone, scrolling through Facebook to keep them busy while taking deep breaths, convinced everyone around me could hear my heart pounding out of my chest. I rehearsed in my head how to keep my shit together, no matter what I heard. I’m an over-thinker, it’s what I do, but this was another, lonely level of fear that was swallowing me whole. So, when the nurse called me back, my feet took some convincing to move. The 8 steps to the scale felt like a mile – I weighed the same and given I was only 9 weeks pregnant, that is totally normal! – But the little voice in my head kept whispering something’s wrong, something’s wrong something’s wrong.
I made my way into the cold exam room, stripping down to put the thin gown over myself. I stared down at my chipped nail polish and picked nervously at my cuticles. I heard my phone chime with text messages, I had told my friends and family I had an appointment today. The pressure of that was building and I was nauseous with the thought of having to either explain to my doctor that I was going crazy, or to my loved ones that I had imagined the pregnancy, the 3 pregnancy tests had to be false. Either way, not a good look.
My doctor came in with his soothing voice, asking how I felt… I lied and said I was fine, totally fine. PEACHY even! I don’t like to complain or come off whiny. He took out the little wand and squirt the warm jelly onto my flat stomach and there it was… I heard the heartbeat and began to sob. UGLY cry in my doctor’s office. I can still remember the concerned look on his face and him asking again, “Are you OK?” I can’t explain the relief I felt just hearing that beautiful thunk-thunk-thunk. It was the only sound in the world that could have given me peace in that moment, and boy did it. I promised over and over to my doctor that I was, in fact, fine this time. I’d let all the mom blogs scare me into thinking I was not doing it right.
You show sooner the second time.
I knew right away I was pregnant, you just FEEL it!
My morning sickness started right away!
I left that appointment feeling much better… until I got home and a new worry began. I worried about how it could be possible at all to love another human as much as I loved the one we already created. There is NO way that love can grow that much more, right? I worried an embarrassing amount about this little alien person in my belly and how guilty I felt at not knowing how I would feel as deeply for this one as I had with my existing child.
Then came Diem.
I remember holding newborn Cori in our dimly lit hospital room after giving birth and looking into her beautiful eyes and thinking “This is my heart – I am holding my heart.” With Diem I thought, “This is my soul – I am holding my soul.” I can’t live without either one and every worry I had disappeared so quickly, it was shocking.
There is not ONE thing they did the same – from conception to present time, not ONE thing about them is the same. Cori taught me patience and Diem taught me self-confidence.
As women, and as new mothers, we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by mom blogs and the multitude of experiences that other women have and can’t just block it all out and soak in our own. The moment I exited the mom groups and stopped reading up on “what to expect”… I found out for myself and there was something empowering in that.
Did we run into a sibling rivalry? Still do.
Did Diem present a whole new set of “What the f*** is that?” OOOOhhhh yeah.
But, we figured it out. Somehow, we made it here, to this morning where I woke to Diem’s warm little arm wrapped around my neck, sweetly rubbing my back and whispering “I love you so much”.
I won’t lie and say that that time was the only moment of heart-pounding anxiety I’ve had. It runs in my family and something I have been conscious of for much off my life, however I am lucky that it is not something that I live with daily. My throat does constrict every time my kids are not physically with me. However, that experience showed me that sometimes my “instincts” can be wrong – I can convince myself a whole mess of things if I allow it, and it takes a LOT of self-pep-talking to remind myself that regardless… bad things can happen, but I can’t strip my children of experiencing life the same way I got to without me projecting my fears on them. I can’t prevent skinned knees or broken bones or keep them in a bubble. I can be a good mother, I can try to make good choices for them until they do it for themselves and prepare them for whatever life brings… it’s a constant battle of push and pull within myself.
Sitting with my morning intentions today – I remind myself that there will always be new worries to overcome. I don’t want to look back a week from now, or a year or a decade and wish I had given myself a break. So, I close this with a good stretch before my morning workout which will take place in my garage because it is TOO DAMN COLD for this southern mama.