The path to motherhood
I rolled back, lifted my hips to the sky (old […]
I rolled back, lifted my hips to the sky (old wives tale, but I was doing things by the book) and thought, this is it… hello baby! It was the first time I’d had sex without birth control, and I was absolutely sure I’d be welcoming a bundle of joy in nine months.
The next morning I waited in line at Starbucks and thought the smell of coffee was more pungent than normal. Was the guy behind me chewing Juicy Fruit? And when it came time to order, I decided on a chai tea instead of an extra hot latte: my first pregnancy craving!
My sex ed. teachers had done their job, and I was perfectly convinced that sex without birth control led to pregnancy. So, you can imagine my surprise when I got my period two weeks later. I wasn’t pregnant at all, just experiencing my very own phantom symptoms.
I actually got pregnant three-months later, and I shouted the good and happy news from every rooftop. My eager heart was so, so full, and I thanked God for the life growing inside of me. I’m pregnant! God is good! Hooray!
Jon and I were the picture of happiness at our 11-week ultrasound: We held hands, placed bets on gender, and took iPhone photos to record the moment. We entered the ultrasound room talking about whether our babe would be a Wisconsin Badger or a Minnesota Viking. Talking college so soon? We were that excited, or, in retrospect, that naïve.
“Congratulations—looks like you’re just about eight weeks pregnant.” The sweet nurse roamed the camera over my stomach and pointed, “You can see the baby right here.” Confused, I told her that my eight-week appointment had been three weeks ago. The technician re-measured the baby, checked our records and said she would get the doctor. We were literally left in the dark.
My doctor eventually explained that I’d won the reverse lottery, and that I was 1 of the 1,000 pregnancies that are classified as ‘molar.’ She explained the causes of a molar pregnancy are unknown, and then she scheduled surgery for the next day.
That night, I made a mental list of all the people who knew we were pregnant. All the people who I needed to tell that I wouldn’t be having a baby after all. Remember what I said about designing a nursery and sewing a tiny bodysuit? Yes, OK, well, could you just forget that? I’m having a D&C at noon tomorrow, and there won’t be a birth this year.
Over the next couple of weeks, my aching heart found solace in community. I quickly learned that miscarriages and infertility are more common than I’d realized—and that it’s impossible to know where someone stands in their motherhood journey (trying for two years, unexpectedly pregnant, recently lost a baby, not planning for children, etc.). All that community and conversation? It encouraged me to share my own experience with pregnancy.
The thing about speaking honestly, about being vulnerable and exposing fear, is that it allows other people to draw close. When you show your heart—revealing your hopes and your worries—you’re able to make genuine connections with others. For example? My miscarriage brought pain and despair, but the aftermath—the healing and the connecting—brought me a best friend.
My friend Deepta moved to Minneapolis from Toronto after marrying a Minnesota man, and she started blogging to record her life as a married Canadian living in the American Midwest. We quickly became blog friends, and, within a couple weeks, decided to get dinner together. Why not take our virtual friendship and make it a real friendship?
I showed up for my dinner date with Deepta sporting a baby-bump (with my current son, Max!) under my sunflower yellow dress. Deepta smiled at my stomach, offered congratulations, and asked when I was due. My weary heart responded that I was due in six months, but that a recent loss had me scared and anxious about the journey ahead.
Are you thinking that she turned and ran away? Grabbed her purse, bid adieu, and left me and my emotional baggage to dine alone? That seems logical, right? Welp, the opposite happened: Deepta sat down and told me that she’d lost a baby a couple months ago. We spent that dinner talking about our desire to raise children with the men we loved. That conversation revealed our similar values, commitment to family and longing for motherhood. We sat down for dinner at 8 p.m., and I knew I’d found a kindred-spirit when I drove home circa midnight.
One year later, I’m sipping coffee and designing baby-shower invitations for Deepta. She got pregnant six months after our first meeting, and I’m ever-so-excited to celebrate the life growing (thriving!) inside of her. We’ve become the kind of friends that swap books and share clothes, and I cannot wait to celebrate her motherhood milestone.
Planning her shower has me thinking about love and loss, and about the nature of friendship and motherhood. What a big spindly-web! Deepta and I both endured hardship on our path to motherhood, but that shared experience allowed us to draw close, reveal our hearts, and become the kind of friends that make us as familiar as family.
My heart goes out to women everywhere: the women trying to get pregnant, the women recently pregnant, the women raising children of their own, and the women helping others to raise children. (It truly takes a village!) May we all be fearless enough to support and encourage each other on our unique paths to motherhood, and, if we’re very lucky, may we find true friends in the process.