Today, June 4, is Charlie’s due date, and I am still pregnant. Honestly, I was afraid to even hope my body could carry him full term; I didn’t think I could make it through May. But here we are. Here I am feeling utterly blessed and scared at the same time, filled with hope and joy at the life to come and working through the fear of what may or may not happen.
This pregnancy has not been easy. From the fears of an ectopic pregnancy to worries about early miscarriage and dropping progesterone levels to fatal abnormalities to pre-term labor scares and multiple trips to L&D and more recently worries about high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. This is a painfully difficult thing for me to admit, but there was a time in my first trimester when I was so overwhelmed by terror, especially before ultrasounds, that I would think to myself, “A miscarriage would be easier because then it would be over.” As hard as we tried with all the treatments and lifestyle changes and medication to see the positive pregnancy tests, that is how much my losses and infertility affected my anxiety. It was the fear of more heartache and devastation and the PTSD that comes with multiple losses.
Someone in one of my bereaved parents support groups told us about one of her patients’ mother. She had been pregnant 17 times and lost all of them, a few of which were abortions. This woman had ended her pregnancies because she was so afraid of the loss that she couldn’t handle continuing. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it—How can you try and try and try to conceive and when you finally do, decide to end that precious little life? Though I wcould never willfully end the life of my child and still can’t imagine making that decision, I got a small, terrifying glimpse of what that woman could have been feeling.
Prayer and milestones
I have spent every single day of this pregnancy praying for Charlie, asking God to keep us both healthy so I can deliver him into this world. In every prayer, I thank Him for each of my children and ask Him to allow me to have my earth baby, to be able to birth a living child and raise Charlie with Louie. Since the beginning of this pregnancy, I’ve been listening to guided imagery and affirmations specifically for pregnancy; I cling to the words as I repeat that I trust my body; that my body knows how to take care of me and this baby; that my body is perfectly designed to sustain this new life; that we are held in the hands of God, perfectly safe. It’s not an easy thing to do, not when I feel like I’ve failed three times before.
Once we hit 24 weeks, viability, when doctors would try to save the baby should I go into pre-term labor, it was an amazing milestone. Then there was 28 weeks, then 30 weeks, then 32 weeks, then 34 weeks, then 37 weeks. Each week was a small victory and just a little bit more confidence, despite the spotting and contractions that sent me to the hospital the day before New Year’s Eve, then on Calvin’s 3rd birthday, then the day of my baby shower. At my last appointment, at 39 weeks 3 days, I told my CNM that my big goal was to reach 39 weeks, and she said that it was baby and mommy’s sheer willpower that got us that far. We had a conversation about induction, a consideration that is an odd blessing.
Gratitude and joy
I am so grateful to have reached our estimated due date. Even though it may not seem like it, especially given my earlier confessions, I was and continue to be grateful for every single microsecond that I had/have my sweet fourth baby growing inside my womb.
There is joy in this pregnancy, in the stretch marks that began to rise like flames announcing the growing miracle I carry, in the kicks and waves and bumps that let me know my son is alive, in the way my belly has stretched further than I thought possible and cause people to stare (sometimes, when I catch a woman looking, I wonder if she felt I like did seeing a mother round and huge with life as I longed for the babies I lost and for one to to keep). But this joy is quiet, tempered by everything that could go wrong, by everything that has gone wrong. That doesn’t make it any less sweet.
Trust and love
All I can do is trust that God is holding us and that all will (eventually) be well. All I can do is rest in the hope of bringing my sweet Charlie Bastian home and being able to mother him in the ways in which I couldn’t mother his big brother and sisters. I’m also trying to surrender to Charlie’s and my body’s timing for when he makes his entrance into this world and balancing that with when induction might be safer.
Mostly, though, I’m trying to remain focused on loving on my precious family: my husband, whose eyes light up when we speak of our future with Charlie and whose tears flow freely when he misses our Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen; my babies in heaven, who I’m looking forward to catching glimpses of in their baby brother; and my Charlie Bee who’s been my constant companion for the past 9 months and has taken up permanent residence in my heart right next to his siblings.