“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life… Pause, you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I remember finding out we were pregnant with Szaba like it was yesterday. We had just returned from Spain. It was a rainy October day like this one. I told Ryan when he came home from walking Pavlov. We immediately called Sue.
A few weeks ago, days before Ryan’s birthday and our tenth anniversary, I discovered I was expecting again. I wrapped a little onesie in a box and gave it to Ryan, whose eyes lit up with hope and disbelief when he opened it. It was the world’s best gift, a surprise from the universe to us both.
And what was the very next feeling we felt after that joy? Sadness for Sue. But of course, Sue wouldn’t want that. As her friend Judy told me, “Somewhere Sue is grinning from ear to ear and squealing with delight! If she were here, she’d already be shopping for you and the baby.” I know every word of that is true.
But I’ve also learned it’s okay to feel sadness with joy. The two are not mutually exclusive. If anything, they are the parallel lenses that give you perhaps the truest perspective of the awe of living, in all its rich complexity.
That’s been the pivotal difference between these two pregnancies. With the first, it was all about great expectations. With the second, it’s been about questions, humor, reconciliation, a stew of emotions, and peacefulness with, well, life.
Case(s) in point…
Pregnancy #1: I will be aglow in the beauty and wonder that is pregnancy.
Pregnancy #2: There will be good and bad days. If I make through a day without vomiting or napping, that’s a win. However, if I do fit a nap in: LOTTERY.
Pregnancy #1: I will create the most perfect nursery the world has ever seen!
Pregnancy #2: How long is it acceptable for a baby to sleep in a Pack ‘n’ Play in the corner of our bedroom? After that, we’ll take it as it comes.
Pregnancy #1: I will take this time to rest, journal, read, and reflect.
Pregnancy #2: How many toddler games can I come up with that involve Mommy sitting or laying down? Let’s start with that.
Pregnancy #1: I will read all the books and be the most perfect mom I can be.
Pregnancy #2: There is no such thing as a perfect mom, but I can rely on my gut, my partner, and my kids to help show me the way.
Pregnancy #1: I will bask in the help of friends and visitors.
Pregnancy #2: People come out of the woodwork during those adorable first few weeks. I need to create a good support plan for the weeks that come after.
Pregnancy #1: My child will have seven grandparents who love her.
Pregnancy #2: Our kids will still have seven grandparents that love them, even if their relationship with two of them is now mine to foster. They’ll also have a wonderfully vast and diverse network of family and friends (ours and the ones they create themselves), who’ll never leave them lacking in love or support.
Ultimately, this will likely be my last go-round at this whole pregnancy thing. So I’m appreciating it all—roses and thorns, certainties and questions, laughter and tears. For as Charles Dickens so beautifully expressed in the quote above (from one of my all-time favorite books, Great Expectations) …
Shouldn’t we pause and view every day as a momentous link in the chains of events that make up our incredible lives?