A Bittersweet Year
Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. Creating life — then helping to mold that life into a decent little person — is perhaps the most elevated of all callings. Sometimes the job seems ordinary. Even mundane. But in light of the bigger picture, each seemingly insignificant moment is nothing less than extraordinary.
My third pregnancy was bittersweet, as my husband, Seth, was deployed to Iraq for most of it. As a National Guard soldier, he was a weekend warrior with a different full time job. I never really expected him to go. I had a three-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son… And I was 8 weeks pregnant! Unfortunately, the military didn’t deem my plight as sufficient cause to discharge my soldier. Before the end of my first trimester, I watched my dearly beloved board the plane that would take him away for my bittersweet year.
At the airport — Seth was saying goodbye to our son, Jack.
knew this pregnancy would be challenging. I didn’t realize it would also be my saving grace. Determined to keep living, I vowed to create fond memories with my children and my unborn baby. Instead of counting the seemingly endless days until Seth’s return, the baby gave us mini-milestones to celebrate each week… 17 weeks- it has tastebuds! 20 weeks- it’s a boy! 23 weeks- he can feel me dancing! 36 weeks- full term!!! Each doctor visit was exciting and the children were intimately involved in every step of the pregnancy. The magical process of growing a baby created a pleasant backdrop during a tumultuous time. Between tears, we played a lot. We took adventure walks. We cooked. We did crafts. We webcammed with Daddy. We put furniture together and painted 2 bedrooms. We wrote letters, drew pictures, talked, and took tons of photos. The pregnancy gave us a beautiful distraction that kept us moving forward.
Early on, I decided that I didn’t want Seth to come home for the birth. He was allowed 2 weeks of leave, but I knew if he came home for the delivery, I would be stuck in bed most of the time and his departure would surely send me into a postpartum depression! Because I was so afraid that labor would start unexpectedly in the middle of the night (with no one there to watch my other kids or take me to the hospital), each tiny tightening and twinge in my belly sent me into a panic. About a month before my due date, I had a false alarm. I remember praying all night that God would just let the show begin in the morning. I texted all of my neighbors and out-of-town family at two am to let them know it may be time. In the morning my phone was abuzz with calls from friends and family, worried that my 3-year-old delivered my baby and angry that I had not called to wake them. The next day my mother-in-law drove in to stay with me until I gave birth.
One week later, I awoke at about four AM with mild, but steady contractions. This time I knew it was real. By eight AM, I was in a good bit of pain, so we loaded the kids in the car and I asked my mother-in-law to drop me off at the hospital before she took the kids to mothers-day-out. Looking back, I imagine how sad it must have looked: me, walking into the hospital alone- with my overnight bag and in the throes of real labor. (On the up side, I was wearing make-up and looked prettier than I had for any other delivery, knowing my husband would only have the photos to document the occasion.)
By the time I was admitted and situated, I was eight cm dilated! And by 11:30 AM, my mother was cutting the umbilical cord. Seth called (literally) two minutes after Abe was born. Because I was 2 weeks early, he didn’t even know I was in labor- and suddenly he was the proud Dad of three. That was exactly one year ago from this Saturday. Seth has been home for five months and the memory of his year away is already clouded by a nostalgic haze. I remember laughter, fear, joy and longing… but mostly, I remember love. Love for my country, my husband, my beautiful children & my blessed life.
Whatever the circumstance surrounding your pregnancy, remember the magic- the miraculous journey- is just beginning. Embrace your situation and enjoy the ride.
From Sarah Lemoine of CocoBlu Studio.
Note: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting stories about pregnancy, childbirth and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here.