Friday, April 3, 2015

Two little lines

A grand adventure is about to begin.
-Winnie the Pooh

Within hours of learning I was pregnant I felt compelled to write. I decided quickly to journal. The decision to blog came more slowly. I feel like there are more than enough motherhood/pregnancy blogs already, and they all do a much better job than I could ever do. But what would it hurt to share my experiences too? It's already been proven people don't have to read what I write. So here goes...

Upfront you should know I did not want this to happen. My husband and I were scared away from having children almost eight years ago when I thought I might be pregnant and later learned that I wasn't. We never really recovered from the shock of sudden responsibility we felt as we waited for a negative pregnancy test.

Ironically, it was that experience that sealed the deal for me quitting hormonal birth control. I had health complications with the three different types I tried (migraines, moodiness, weight gain, etc), but the fear that it could potentially harm my unborn child (unwarranted or not) was enough for me to stop it for good.

Within a few months we settled on natural family planning. I read several books. I still remember reading a warning that if we weren't going to be serious about NFP, then we shouldn't claim to practice it. The author lamented that NFP had such a low success rate because so many people did it incorrectly or took chances they weren't supposed to take. Also, most NFP "failures" happen in the first year.

I took the responsibility seriously and was diligent that first year. I followed every single rule. Measured and charted every indicator every day. To be fair to NFP we have not strictly followed the rules since then. It's just that some of the fertility indicators are tedious to measure, and if you track everything month after month you begin to learn about your body. (For example, my temperature swings happen later than for most women. I stopped taking my daily temperature years ago because it just wasn't as reliable an indicator for me as other things.)

 And there have been a handful of times when I have been wrong. I thought the indicators were or were not there only to learn after it was too late that I had misread my signals. That's not what happened this time. We had very good reasons to believe my fertile window had opened AND closed. And no other indication to the contrary. Still, in the hours following the positive pregnancy test I felt like a failure. How could I have let this happen?

I have always been paranoid about a surprise pregnancy and have taken dozens of pregnancy tests over the years. It has been a common refrain for me to link some symptom or issue with possible pregnancy. This particular time it was back pain.

My mom had back pain with both her pregnancies very early. When my back began hurting, I thought I might be experiencing the same thing. I lay in bed at 3 am the day of my missed period and whispered to my husband, "I just can't stop worrying about if I'm pregnant."

Eight years is a long time to be patient. Having heard it all before he replied simply, "Amy, you're not pregnant." And he rolled over and went to sleep. I nursed some hurt feelings and planned to talk to him the next evening about being more respectful to my concerns.

The next day I took the test. For the first time in my life the first little pink line began to appear. I blinked my eyes several times. It was still there. Two lines? Two lines! TWO lines?!?!?! "Dear God, no. Please no. I'm not ready. It's not time," I prayed.

I took a picture. Both lines showed up in the picture. I held it up to the light. They were still there. My heart started beating out of my chest and my breathing sped up. My skin flushed. Was I going to faint?

I talked myself through until my heart rate and breathing slowed. "It's okay. It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. Everything will be alright."

My next thought was having to tell people. It was close to April Fool's Day. Every previous time I thought I might be pregnant around March, I always thought an April 1st announcement would be fun. So that might work out. I began thinking of how I would tell my friends. They would probably ask me how I am feeling. I actually thought I was handling it pretty well. I mean, I hadn't cried or anything. I panicked at first, but that was just for a few seconds really. How was I feeling?

I looked at myself in the mirror and said to myself, "I'm terrified." All composure was lost as I melted into sobs. I could hear my husband in the next room in a conference call meeting. On his first day of work at his new job. I couldn't really tell him until after his work day was finished. And I didn't want him to hear me, rush out and learn about our pregnancy with me a blubbering heap.

I tried to pull myself together and took several deep breaths. How do teenagers do this? How in the world do single moms handle this? I am old and married and middle class and love kids and I feel completely unprepared and unqualified. Downright unable. (Every mom in the world gained even more respect from me that day.)

Johnie had an hour before he was finished with work. How would I tell him? I really didn't want him to learn about his first child through heaving sobs. I thought about friends who had bought onesies or dad-to-be items and given them to their husbands. I didn't really have time for that. "Oh, hey... we're pregnant" seemed lackluster. What could I do?

I settled on telling him I got him a surprise for his first day at his new job. That was about the best I could come up with. I willed myself to hold it together, but his meeting ran long. And in the minutes between when he was supposed to get off work and when he did get off work I lost it again. And pulled it together again.

He didn't act like he suspected anything when he saw my face. "So, I got you a surprise for your first day of work."

"Oh, really? You didn't have to do that. What is it?"

This is harder than I thought it would be. I swallowed and could only whisper, "I'm pregnant."

His eyes got wide. "Really?!?"

I shrugged. "That's what the test said."

A tiny smile tugged his lips upward. But only for a few seconds. Serious, he asked, "how are you feeling?"

"How are you feeling?"

We were hugging. I couldn't see his face. What is he going to say? What is he going to do? How is he going to react? What is this going to mean for us? The seconds ticked slowly by. Was he waiting on me to answer first? I wanted him to answer first.

Finally he spoke. "I'm just really worried about how you are feeling."

"I'm scared."

We began discussing how and when to tell people. My best friend had always made me one of the first people she told (after her husband) about her pregnancies. Johnie agreed we should do the same for her. So she was our first call. We tried to call my mom but she wasn't available. We called Johnie's parents and siblings and grandparents.

We would be seeing our church family the following night. We live in a very tight knit open community. We strive to share life like a real, authentic family. This was rocking my world. I couldn't see my friends and not tell them. If it was even possible, it would have felt dishonest. But the thought of Johnie announcing our pregnancy and then everyone looking at me was overwhelming. I never like a lot of eyes on me and especially in a situation like this. I told him I just couldn't handle it.

He suggested I stay home and he announce it without me. That'd be a great way to have everyone at my house -- sick with worry -- in less than ten minutes. We agreed to call the friends we would see the next evening before we were to be with them. That way things might be settled down a little before I actually had to have anyone looking at me.

That was until we talked to my mom. She was ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic. She kept thanking the Lord over and over again. And she told us this was the best moment of her life so far. My husband tried to clarify -- with both of her children also on the phone -- and she said that her own births were the most amazing moments of her life when they happened. Emphatically, this was the best yet, she said, and that it would only get better when the baby arrived.

I knew my mom would be excited. But I had no idea her reaction would be so over the top. It actually helped me feel a lot better. I mean, everyone we told had sweet reactions. But my mom's response was priceless. I was already feeling a little guilty that my initial reaction was void of happiness and Johnie's lacked much enthusiasm. At least this baby had others who responded in such pure joy.

She also had plans with close friends in the coming days and was unsure how she could not tell them. Johnie received an email that night from a dear friend and we almost had to call him and his wife to tell them the news because Johnie didn't know how he could hide such a huge life event. (That friend later said he knew by Johnie's short reply that something was up.)

So, Johnie and I decided that night that mom should be the one to make the announcement to our church family. We weren't sure how she would do it, but we did know it would be great. And almost certainly better than any way Johnie or I could manage to tell anyone in the next 24 hours.

In true mom fashion, she didn't disappoint. Neither did our friends.