When I knew

In May, I wrote about the time period in which I became pregnant.  In June, I write about the period in which I found out.  I guess we really don’t know what is going on in those weeks before we find out.  We don’t know exactly when it happened, why conditions were right.  At some point we discover the extremely tiny, but exceedingly powerful, little secret that has burrowed into our bodies.  This burgeoning little human then begins the journey of burrowing into our souls, as we further undertake the process of allowing them and accepting them into our lives. We may be hoping for it, we may be elated, we may be confident, we may be worried, we may be shocked, we may be disappointed, we may be upset, we may be angry, we may be confused, we may be thankful.  We may be emotional or too blown away to tap into our emotions.  It truly may be all of these things at once.  Yet it is always significant.

It was two years ago: June 27, 2015. I was shocked.  I don’t know how much else there was, initially.  I realized after several days of discussing baby-making with another friend who had just started trying to conceive, that it had been a while since my last period.  I think I went back and counted over 40 days. I had been swimming more those last few weeks, preparing for a summer competition abroad, so it didn’t strike me as odd.  There had been a couple times in my life where I hadn’t menstruated due to intense physical exercise.  Yet in the spirit of curiosity, I decided to test on a Saturday morning.  Why not?  I hadn’t tested in a long time. I had kinda given up. I woke up early, went to the bathroom, and tested. Yay for peepee. It was positive. I didn’t really react.  I don’t even know how long I waited, but I know I tested again once my husband had woken up. It was again positive. (Dollar store pregnancy tests work, by the way!) He had gone down, so I called him upstairs.  He called back, “What is it? Why?” “Just come upstairs.” He thought maybe I had blocked the toilet or something, ha.  I think my first words were HOLY SHIT. “Oh my god.” “Oh my god is right.” Hugs, smiles, pictures.  My heart was…happy? Definitely some happy. Disappointed? Definitely. Shocked. You see, after trying for a while, after not having it happen, after having other aspects of my life in disarray, um, this threw it off course again.  I had found my new course. I thought I had. I found my meaning without motherhood.  I was trying to come to terms with it. I still hoped to be a mother one day, but it wasn’t going to be then. I would be traveling, domestically and internationally, all summer long.  I wanted to do that.  I couldn’t do that now.  I was going to plan another big trip the following year.  That wasn’t going to happen.  Oh, short-sightedness.  There was shock, happiness, disappointment, uncertainty, hope, suspicion, fear.  But then I had to leave. I was headed out that day to a swim practice.  Walking down the sidewalk, I quietly spoke out loud to myself, and to my child; I giggled and teared up at the same time.  “You’re coming with me.  You can come with me.” Maybe he or she could be my travel companion. I’m not going to go alone. You’re coming with me.

It was Pride weekend. The day before, Friday the 26th, the Supreme Court had ruled to guarantee the right to marry to same-sex couples. I was with a client when I heard the news, so I couldn’t express exactly how hopeful it made me feel.  It was an issue I had grown to feel was more and more important to the future of our society in terms of equality.  It filled so many people with emotion, and my husband and I went out to dinner together that night, decked out in rainbow heart stickers.  I just happened to have bought a pack of rainbow heart stickers a bit before that day to use in making cards.  Oh the timing. I still use those stickers. It just struck me how so many hearts were now able to feel more peace and express more pride in the love they felt, validated by our society.  When love is kind it is beautiful. When we woke up on the 27th and learned our more personal, surprising, and very emotional news, one of the first things I said to my husband was “He or she can marry whoever he or she wants!” The concepts of freedom, equality, love, hope, acceptance, and diversity were at the forefront of my mind. Waking up and going to the Pride parade the next day helped me feel more excited about the baby; feeding off of the energy around me helped dissipate the shock, and started to bring joy and gratitude to the forefront. Every day since then, for two whole years, I have been able to wake up each new day knowing more and more about her, our surprise, and that has been the greatest source of pride I could ever have imagined. I know the term ‘rainbow baby’ has a very specific meaning.  That meaning does not apply to my daughter.  Thankfully so, as a rainbow baby is a child you have given birth to after the loss of another baby, from miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  I did not have that. I did not go through the heartache some women go through.  I had trouble, but it could have been so much worse.  I cannot take that away from those who really do cherish their rainbow babies. But for me, in my heart, it was still a wait. It was still a trial. And for that she will always be my rainbow after the storm. Our journey has not been easy in many ways, and everywhere I looked in the days surrounding our discovery, I saw those rainbows for Pride. Rainbows and celebration and hope for a better world everywhere. For me it will always be something inextricably tied to her. I’ve recently read about the concept of a sunshine baby, a baby born before some type of loss or hardship, and that fits her better, but she will always, always be my rainbow. She will always be my hope for intangible joy and light and color and amazing experiences and treating people and the world more lovingly for the future, even through the storms we all experience.

Once my husband and I knew, it was time to slowly extend the gift.  Waiting until Monday to call my doctor was excruciating.  I was so nervous I begged them for an appointment earlier than their ‘first available.’  I waited until after that appointment, on Wednesday, July 1st, to tell my family.  Blood work confirmed the pregnancy the following day but I told them before that anyway. I read that the baby was at that point the size of a poppy seed, so I distributed poppy seeds to everyone, along with notes from the baby asking if the person would be his or her Nonna, Aunt, etc.  Telling people and seeing the looks of happiness on their faces was a truly moving experience.  We told friends and waited until a special visit to tell my in-laws in person.

I also tried to piece together the previous month.  The fact was I had had more alcohol than usual (oh that Father’s Day wine tasting festival), more caffeine than usual (one of my clients loved a couple cups of afternoon tea), more ibuprofen than usual (sore from hard workouts). What a mess.  What did I do? I also had had a cold the week prior, ahh my immune system was weaker. I had just started feeling like maybe it was turning into a sinus infection. Turns out, I was starting to feel dizzy from low blood pressure (normal at that stage) and just getting a glimpse at the weird feelings to come.  I had definitely even noted I had to pee more, and that I was a little more easy to upset.  I had also noticed that I suddenly gained a few pounds at a doctor’s appointment. My body was already retaining what it needed. It all made sense. All the things I did, good and bad, without knowing. But now I knew.

My way of honoring some of these anniversaries has been to sort of recreate some of the activities and experiences of that time period. As I discussed in my entry about becoming pregnant, I was really on a path of self-discovery and soul-searching at that time, so there were a number of things going on that I felt added to that or reflected it.  So I did things.  This year more than last, as certain adventures have been easier in some ways with a 16 month old as opposed to a 4 month old, I tried to take her along to experience some excitement.  There was National Donut Day, where I ate a ridiculous number of free donuts and stayed up late going to pop up art galleries in my city.  (Somehow that combined with wine gave baby a great start to life? HA!) I did that again this year.  There were museum visits and shows. One audio guide to an exhibit even made mention of pregnancy, a beautiful description, at that — I would love to get a transcript of that. There was strawberry picking. There was the ferry ride I took with a friend to the Statue of Liberty, not knowing that I was taking along with me another, much smaller, lady liberty. I wanted to show her the beautiful views she could not yet see two years ago, so we took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry on that anniversary. There was the Pride parade. There was swimming. I bought new rainbow goggles to celebrate this year. There were ice cream shop visits. I haven’t done everything, but I did what I was able to with the determination and mindfulness that I needed to to harken back to a time period that meant a lot to me, and to honor how everything pieced itself together. Now that I know she is here, I can express to her how grateful I am for the pride she instills in us each day, and have her experience these outings and enjoy them in the beautiful way she always does.

See, it’s not just my pride in motherhood itself. It isn’t just being proud to be the mother of another person, or being proud of what an incredible little human she is.  It was the fact that many of the best things I have ever done in my life were done with her present, with her inspiration permeating me, flowing through my veins.  It was that she gave me the joy and the companionship to fulfill even more of my potential as an individual.  Because that is what this blog is about:  Allowing the people and experiences in your life, whatever they are, whether they include motherhood or not, to shape you into being the best, most enlightened person you have the capacity to be, and then shining that out and using it to make life better for everyone else around you.  So it isn’t just defining myself as a mother. It is finding myself both as an individual and as a faceless fraction, an insignificant member of the human family. It is about making my child my first priority, but not by losing my own sense of worth to that task.  The happier we are in our relationship, the happier each of us can be individually, and vice versa.  Looking back, my meaning has returned, I was still able to travel across the United States and Europe with my little travel buddy, and pregnancy empowered me to make other significant changes to my life.  And that slight disappointment I mentioned? I was at work one day in July 2015, lamenting my trip to India that would have to wait until well past the following year. It hit me that 2016 would be the year I would become a mother, and that I would be giving birth around the time I had wanted to travel. The realization was intense, the kind that nearly brings you to tears wherever you happen to be standing. The baby was my India! I was in a bathroom. “YOU are my India,” I shrieked to myself in my head, maybe even floating the words on my lips. You are the place I dreamed of going, the intricacy I wanted to explore, the experience I wanted to have, the fulfillment I had longed for, the love and music and movement I wanted to pour out into the world from my heart. The disappointment faded. The pride grew. The happiness and meaning were found, and are still being discovered.  I don’t really believe in fate, but how strongly I have continued to feel that she happened just when she was supposed to happen.  I cannot deny that she colored every experience I have had for the last 2 years, as the hope of a future child colors so much for the life of any woman hoping to be a mother someday. This is an entry to celebrate when I knew that I was pregnant, but the greater gift has been celebrating the knowledge of living with another person in your heart. It was when I knew. Life was changing.  My dreams were not dying. Life was incredible, and just beginning.

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