“My period is 10 days late,” I whispered to my husband while lying in bed one night in February, our stomachs already twisting in knots at the thought of a fourth baby.
My cycle had been perfectly regular for nearly two years, so a 10-day delay was unsettling. We were so entirely done having kids. Our daughter was about to turn four and our twin boys were expert two-year-olds. Life was complete. Our family was perfectly whole. Days were getting easier by the minute. And my husband had sealed the deal with a vasectomy shortly after our twins were born. I couldn’t possibly be pregnant.
My frantic Google searches revealed that I could have cancer, that a delayed period could be a sign of something serious, something other than pregnancy. Gruesomely, I held on tight to that idea, that maybe cancer would be better than another child. Looking back now, I’m appalled that I allowed myself to think so morbidly. But I’m telling you, in that season of life, anything sounded better than another baby. Anything.
But, I was pregnant. I awoke the next morning and bought six pregnancy tests. All six came back unmistakably positive, those two pink lines staring back at me like a cruel prank. While I sat on the toilet in hysteric disbelief, a giant wave of anger crashed down on my tight shoulders while my toddler giggled at my tear-soaked face.
No, no, no, no, no. This can’t be happening. God wouldn’t do this to me. I must be dreaming.
I slapped my face a few times to wake myself up from what felt like my worst nightmare. But this was happening. God was doing this to me. My husband’s vasectomy had failed. And I immediately spiraled into a frenzy, terribly worried that this third pregnancy would be another set of twins. Because–friendly PSA–your odds of having multiples skyrockets if you’ve already had multiples.
Thankfully, an early ultrasound detected only one fetus. One little baby. Relief settled in for an instant but dread still breathed down my neck. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want another little baby. We donated or sold all our baby things. Diapers were about to be a thing of the past. All three kids were sleeping beautifully through the night. And our family was approaching that sweet spot when going out in public almost felt fun. Parenthood finally felt manageable.
My relentless dread toward my future left me feeling like the worst person on Earth. How could I possibly feel anything but joy at the thought of bringing another life into the world? How could I resent this pregnancy when I had family members and friends who’d suffered infertility and loss? How could I not want another child? But those were my real, honest feelings, and it took a few months to let myself feel them guilt-free.
Because guilt was a big part of this whole equation. Suffocating, nauseating guilt. There I was, a young mother with another healthy baby on the way, and all I could feel was red-hot anger. Anger at God. Anger at the world. Anger at every mother who had fewer than four kids because she would have it easier than poor, miserable me.
All of those thoughts and feelings created this wicked tornado inside my head that ultimately spun me into a giant ball of guilt for ever feeling those things in the first place, because how lucky was I?
Thankfully, the people in my life reassured me it was okay to feel those things, that grief was something I was entitled to experience because I was, in fact, losing something by gaining another child.
I was losing the image I had pictured for my family’s future. I was losing the self I had worked so hard to rebuild after overcoming the trenches of early motherhood. My small business was just starting to gain traction. Our financial stability, our robust social life, our two-row vehicles, our quality of sleep, our family vacation plans, our ability to go places without feeling like a public spectacle–gone. And we had every right to grieve that loss. I think I just needed someone to tell me it was okay to grieve in the first place.
Today, as I write this article, I’m 30-weeks pregnant. There’s a growing baby boy in my tiger-striped belly. My kids whisper “I love you” to him while I lounge like a walrus on our couch. The guilt has subsided significantly and the anger comes only in quiet ripples. My husband and I are actually at peace with our future as a family of six. And I’m certain that, no matter how much this little boy disrupts our lives or who he becomes in this wild world, our family would’ve never been complete without him. The more, the merrier, as they say.