Women, I’d like to prompt you to take a moment to think back to when you discovered pregnancy. Some of you were devastated; you were far too young, too poor, too alone to embrace new life… at least initially. Some of you were elated; you were ready (you thought), you were so proud, and you felt so secure. Some of you were in clinics, some in bathrooms, some with your friends or lovers.
Our first child is Rachel Zade. We were 28 and 29, married 7 years, and ready. I was halfway through a PhD program and every female advisor said “have a baby now before a tenure-track job.” The time seemed right. I took a test at home alone and was so excited I called my husband at work to tell him the news. When he came home, we hugged and hopped in the car to buy baby clothes. Then it was the carefully planned announcement to my parents (6:00am pre-flight en route to an academic conference), followed by the planned announcement to the family (Easter!), followed by the announcement on Facebook and appointments and classes and sonograms and showers. Scheduled, regimented, a series of events. She kicked and rolled while I finished comprehensive exams and tried to wrap my mind around a dissertation proposal. I begged for an induced labor. Rachel Zade was born on a Tuesday at 6:31 pm with my mom, my husband, and my sister in attendance. Six pounds thirteen ounces and water in her lungs. I think I had post-partum depression, I know she had colic, and it was a dark season for a while. My dad made me a banana pumpkin pie. Lee handled the parenting I couldn’t manage and he rocked Zadie to sleep many, many, many late nights. We emerged.
Our second pregnancy came shortly after Zadie turned one. We told my parents over dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and they congratulated us but looked shocked. Something about the timing seem hurried. Not long after, I made a trip to the ER with my mom and we got to see that baby’s heart beating on a sonogram monitor. It was alive but small. It had already stopped growing. I was watching a dying baby. I had a D&C once the heartbeat stopped, and I thank God for the opportunity to see that sweet life on a screen before it was over.
Our second child is Wesley Glenn. That pregnancy was surreal. After a miscarriage, I felt detached from the whole thing. I took the pregnancy test in a Target bathroom. When the sonogram tech later pointed out our son’s scrotum on the monitor, I yelled “gross!!”. He kicked and rolled and took all the room in my abdomen as I defended my dissertation and received my PhD. I worried he’d be as hard and traumatic for me as Zadie had been. I begged for an induction, went to the hospital alone and enjoyed a quiet first night of labor. Wesley Glenn was born after three failed epidurals (and a whole lot of foul language) on a Sunday at 2:10 pm with my mom, my husband, and my sister in attendance. Seven pounds six ounces. Perfect, beautiful, peaceful, calm, and I felt immediate connection. He was heaven. My dad made me a banana pumpkin pie. Lee felt protective of Zadie and distanced from Wesley, but we settled into shared night duty and everyone relaxed into the new rhythm. We rejoiced!
Our fourth pregnancy was a shock. Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding, let’s wait it out, this can’t be real. A short and sudden miscarriage at home days later. We barely had time to tell anyone. This one slipped away so fast. Not meant to be? Done with kids? Time for permanent pregnancy prevention measures? On what would have been this baby’s due date, I scheduled annual physicals for Zadie and Wes. Zadie was a perfectly healthy three-and-a-half year old, Wesley a growing 15 month-old. Everyone was sleeping through the night. Much to celebrate.
Our fifth pregnancy? Well, as the saying goes: if you’re not preventing, you’re planning. My “period tracker” app alerted me “your period is 1 day late.” Better take a test. Negative. Okay. Throw another test in my bag because I’m OCD and head off to work. Finish my large caffeinated coffee, write a few blogs, answer a few student emails, pop on a Cornel West documentary. Oh! I have to pee. I’m OCD (have I mentioned that?) so I’ll just grab that pregnancy test and head to the bathroom. Do the test. It’s blinking, blinking, blinking… no dice. I laugh at the test, thinking “you’re trying so hard to find some hormone that’s just not there. Negative.” I wrap the test up and head back to my desk. I finish listening to Cornel West talk about justice and love, being a blues man, and radical Christianity. I take a peek at the test.
What?! I say it again, out loud. What????!!!!???
I go back to my app. I check some dates, plug them in an online calculator. April 9, 2015. Wes will be two. Zadie four. Wow. I have an excuse to step down as Department Chair and go back to teaching. I wanted more family time anyway.
How will I tell Lee? No more caffeine or wine. I need to cut the wine anyway. Fifth pregnancy or third baby? How does this story end?
One thing is for sure. By the time you’ve reach a fifth pregnancy, a third baby, and you’ve been through a few years with the little ones at home, something dramatically changes. Pregnancy is no longer a to-do list or a series of calendar events. I couldn’t care less about appointments. It’s a giant whopping mystery, a miracle of enormous proportions, and reason to worship our creator.
I can’t believe the possibility before us. I know it will be hard, I know it will break us down (ohhh those long newborn nights), and I know it will build us up.
I don’t know if this baby will survive. I do know the possibility alone is a miracle. I was listening to Cornel West on YouTube, alone in a freezing cold office, working in a position I have no intention of keeping when I found out. Hello #3. I’m your mom.