How They Took the News

Just in case you missed it, I am having a baby.  It’s OK if you did miss it.  I am not offended.

In the comments of my January 2nd post, Elizabeth M asked if Billy knew I was pregnant when he predicted a new sibling this year.  Yes, we had told them, and it was a moment worth remembering.

When you have babies every couple of years with regularity, you start to expect babies every couple of years with regularity.  The baby I lost right before Bill deployed to Afghanistan, though unplanned, was not unexpected.  Mary was well over a year old at that point.  Since Bill’s return two years ago, I’ve had two other miscarriages.  At some point, I began to expect loss instead of joy.

I sheltered my children from these losses as best I could.  This was a natural extension of sheltering myself from these losses.  I am a big fan of repressing pain and sorrow.  You’ll not convince me that depression and crying are good for the soul.  My children knew of two of these losses.  One, immediately after the worst was over, and at that time, we mentioned the one from 2009. They were so devastated, I did not tell them about the last one.

And I definitely did not tell them I was pregnant with this baby for quite some time.  I wasn’t sure how long to wait, but often things just work themselves out with time.

The first hurdle, in my mind, was getting past the 6 – 8 week mark.  Twice, the first indication that something was wrong was when I began to spot.  Somewhere around week 7, I began the process of getting a referral to the midwife group I wanted to use.  This should have taken, at most, a week.  It took more than four (because government-run health care is that good).  The next challenge was confirming a heartbeat.  With my second loss, I went to the midwives at around 10 weeks, but the baby was only 8 1/2 weeks in size with no heartbeat.  It was another 2 weeks before my body expelled the baby.  Even though I was over 11 weeks by the time I got an appointment with this child, I knew that there was still a possibility that the baby had already died.

The midwives have an ultrasound machine, but the woman who does their scans is only in on Tuesdays.  I knew that, but the first appointment they had with the midwives was on a Friday and they had this funny thing about scheduling first appointments with the ultrasound lady.  They didn’t seem to care that that’s all I cared about.  What’s the point of doing that whole history thing and drawing blood and having a physical exam if you’re not going to have a baby in the end?

So I went in on that Friday late afternoon, last appointment of the week, and gave blood and recited my medical history (having written my medical history prior to the appointment) and had my eyes, nose, ears and glands checked.  I had a breast exam, and then she felt my uterus and said the size matched my dates, so everything looked good.

Then she got the little sonogram machine that lets you hear the heartbeat.  She warned me it was still early (I knew), but she said let’s try to hear one.  She tried and she tried and she tried.  And I might have been fine if she had stopped after a minute and said, “Well, these babies don’t like to come out for these things, and it’s still too early, so we’ll bring you in for an ultrasound on Tuesday and see the baby then.”  

But, no, that’s not how it went.  “There it was!” she said, but then she lost it.  I didn’t hear it.  She desperately wanted to give me that thread of hope, but the more she searched, the harder it became to maintain my composure.  She left me for a minute to get a newer machine, and it gave me time to dab at my eyes, take a deep breath, and turn off my brain.  “Don’t think about anything!” I ordered myself.  She came back and after another agonizing minute or two said, “Can you hear that, in the background, that ticking?”  There was a ticking, like the second hand on a clock, faintly, which sounded most like some sort of static interference.  “That’s the heartbeat,” she insisted.  Riiiiight.

She was convinced, and my logical, intelligent brain reminded me that she is an expert and has heard thousands of heartbeats on these machines, so she knows what she’s talking about.  My illogical, emotional side, though, decided that I would not tell the children, not yet.

Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning is a long time to wait for something important, but I managed to push my worries aside by simply not thinking about the baby as best I could.  That Tuesday morning, I left Fritz in charge so I could go to a “doctor’s appointment.”  On the drive there, I could feel my pulse and respiration increase as my anxiety fought to surface.

All was well.  The ultrasound lady showed me the healthy heartbeat, and she pushed my abdomen to try to get the baby to turn toward the wand.  We watched an arm lift a hand to the face.  And I fell in love, again.  I fell in love with this baby.  I fell in love with my husband who helped create this new life.  And I fell in love with God who gave me another precious gift.

I think I called my husband on the way home.

I know I called my sister, who had been praying so hard for me for weeks.

I called my kids and Katie answered.  I had her check in the fridge for lettuce and tomatoes for our Taco Tuesday dinner.  I told her I would stop quickly at the store, but that I had some good news to share when I got home.  I thought about telling the kids and wondered what they would think.  It’s not a topic they nag me about – like going to Disney World.

By the time I got home, all the kids were eager to know what I had to tell them.  As I gestured for them to calm down, one asked, “Where were you, Mommy?”

“She had an ultrasound,” said my nosy 13 year old son who is in the habit of studying my Google calendar.  If only he were as interested in charts of Latin verb conjugations.

“What’s an ultrasound?” someone asked.

“It’s when they look to see if there’s a baby growing inside you,” explained my suddenly too-smart-to-tolerate 13 year old son.  Apparently, he did not get the memo about how homeschooling shelters children from real life.

“And do you?” asked the children.

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

And they cheered.  They cheered.

They could not have given me a better gift than this joy at knowing we are adding another member to the family.

I remember when I came home from the hospital with Billy.  Fritz enjoyed a rigid bedtime routine: bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story book, prayer, kiss goodnight.  After the disruption of mommy being away for a few days, I wanted to get back into it.  He needed me; he had missed me so much.  I sat him on my lap in his bedroom to read his book while Bill paced with the baby in the living room.  In our tiny condo, he could not prevent us from hearing the baby cry and fuss to be nursed.  Fritz was worried that I would leave him to go to the baby, and upset at the baby’s presence in our home.  The book was all about loving a child all his life no matter what.  I started to sob, and all I could think was that I had ruined our perfect family.  “What have I done?” I wailed to myself.

What have I done?  I have multiplied the love.

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23 thoughts on “How They Took the News

  1. Yay!! I'm cheering too!!

    (Not because I didn't know, but because this is a beautiful post that really nails it.)

    Having gone through almost everything in this post, except for…um…the husband deployment part, I can say yes! Exactly! The love is multiplied, not divided.

    (this despite the crosses and pain)

    Be warned, though: I'm looking at all those beautiful faces on your sidebar and am thinking, those old ladies at Mass are going to have a field day when they see you. Big happy families are their consolation and hope.

  2. Love that story! Very, very sweet. And I am very glad you have peace.

  3. Whoot-hoot! Congratulations!

  4. Michelle, that is just so beautiful. Congratulations! I'm cheering, too. I know what you mean about preparing for the loss.

  5. I can so relate to everything you said…especially the preparing for loss…and I am so, so, so, happy for you!!

  6. My kids are always so happy when the news of a new baby is announced too.

    Keeping you and that new little one in my prayers.

  7. Congratulations, that's such exciting and wonderful news! I don't know how I missed that announcement. I read the post you wrote about New Year's predictions, but I guess I must have gotten called away before I finished reading it.

  8. I'm tearing up right now…so happy for you. And so thrilled about how your kids heard the news.
    You are ever in my prayers through this pregnancy!

  9. Yaaayyyyyy!!!! Congratulations to you and your growing family. Your story brought tears to my eyes!!! (Mommy, what's wrong? Oh nothing dear, just crying about babies again!) Looking back now (we have 6 so far), I could never picture my life without all of these children. This incredible gift of life is SO profound to me. And God, in His Infinite Wisdom, knows how GOOD this is for us. Praying for you and your precious baby!

  10. That's a wonderful bunch of kids you've got there…you sure are doing something right!

  11. YAY! What a wonderful story. Keeping you in my prayers.

  12. I am so happy and so praying for you!
    Christa in California

  13. That was just beautiful!! So glad everything looks good. Keeping you in my prayers.

  14. This was simply heartfelt, real, authentic. Praying so hard for you. This post made me fall for your baby too! 🙂 so many prayers coming your way.

  15. Ditto everything Margaret said. Started getting teary eyed through the preparing for the loss, waiting for the sonogram… Yes, yes, and yes. It's so wonderful when it's all so prolific. 🙂

  16. I absolutely loved reading this post, thank you for sharing all the beautiful details!
    I also love knowing that you have a nosy one too. My 10 yr old can read a computer screen that was only in front of him for a nano second, he reads emails from my husband before I do, and announces periodically how many spam messages I have that need deleting.
    Congratulations again!

  17. Wonderful post! I had to ask (on that New Year's post) if he'd known ahead or not, or if it were wishful thinking! It's terrific either way. I love that your children are joyful about a new sibling.

    Before we were even married (or engaged), I had some medical issues that made me fear I'd never be able to have children. That scared me — and made me worry about what my then-boyfriend would think.

    We're now married 21 years and have 2 children (gifts from God). But I often wonder what it would have been like to be able to expect more, to expect another baby when the last “baby” isn't so little anymore.

    I say this wistfully, not bitterly. I have some better perspective now on His plan and the challenges we face that may mean a smaller family was the “right” family for us. It also has meant we've been able to take on service to our parish that we might not have been able to do (or spend as much time doing) if we had more children. His will be done!

    I so remember the feelings when expecting the second of how it would upset the first one's world, how hard it would be. But, as we know, it all works.

    Love multiplies. I LOVE that, and it is so true. That's what I think most people miss in our society today. They see the work and the expense of large families, but miss the love and support.

    Many prayers and blessings for you on a healthy pregnancy and for your wonderful, blessed growing family!

    (Sorry for my ramblings….)

  18. I'd missed it! Congratulations, and what a beautiful post!

    love and prayers.

  19. Sob! Let me mop myself up from the floor for just a minute…

    SO happy for you. I remember the pain of my loss, and the eagerness and nervousness I had while pregnant with Ladybug. It was agony and joy intermingled. I don't think I felt peace until she was born and I could hold her in my arms.

    So happy for you AND your children. You told me once when I was expecting Ladybug and nervous about how my first would handle this “intruder” into our lives, was that I was giving him a gift of a sibling. It was more eloquent than that, but the gist is the same. I've always kept that in my heart. And after adding yet another, I understand what you were telling me. Now my oldest is already asking when we are going to have another baby. These little ones. They understand LIFE better than we do sometimes, don't they?

    Congrats again. 🙂

  20. ohmigosh, i'm crying. tears of wonderful joy – congrats congrats congrats! 🙂

  21. ohmigosh, i'm crying. tears of wonderful joy – congrats congrats congrats! 🙂

  22. Yep, you made me cry. Congrats. So sweet.

  23. A bit late, but nonetheless, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Praying everything works out with your delivery and moving. I can't even begin to imagine. SO happy for you!

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