I've been thinking about this a lot lately. A tragedy in my friends' life has had me reflecting on the nature of parenthood and what a giant precipice we stand on, those of us who undertake to be parents.
After my first pregnancy, I changed. I lost not only my first baby but my innocence. (Just for the record, I'm speaking only for myself here - of course my husband went through all this with me). My naive expectation that "it couldn't happen to me" was shattered.
My second pregnancy came and went so fast that I didn't really have a chance to feel anything but a dull ache where the hope that should have come with a BFP was missing. Pretty much the moment I learned I was pregnant, was the moment I learned that it was ectopic. I knew it couldn't possibly end well, so all I wanted was for it to end quickly (that didn't really happen either, but that's another story).
This time around... I've passed some milestones, important ones for me. I passed the first ultrasound appointment without hearing the worst news. I passed the point where my first baby died and instead had the joy of seeing my first fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound (you bet I cried). I passed the point where I lost that first pregnancy. We survived weeks and weeks of spotting and even some full out bleeding - all is still okay. I've seen baby's heart beating three times now, and heard it on the fetal doppler at my OB's office. I've made it through the scary first trimester, dealt with morning sickness, slept more hours than I thought I could. I've made it to here and now.
And each day I am celebrating the fact that "Today, I am Still Pregnant." It's my mantra for this pregnancy. It is enough to calm me when I feel anxious.
With all that has been going on around us lately, I realize now that this capital-F Fear is not going anywhere. For the rest of my life.
Parenthood has been something I dreamed of, expected, longed for, and am hopefully in the throes of achieving. I honestly can't wait to be a mother. I have big plans for this little one. But with all the happiness, discoveries and pleasures of parenthood comes the price - Fear. I can't imagine there is ever a moment when you don't know as a parent, in the back of your mind, that it could all come crashing down.
Sometimes it's a news story that reminds us how fragile life is. This summer, I keep hearing about drowning deaths of children. Sometimes it's our own losses that come back to haunt us - knowing that anyone, at any time, can be gone, just like that. I've lost family that way; here one moment, and gone the next, no warning. Sometimes it's the slice-your-heart-open kind of unexpected tragedy that hits someone you know and care for, throwing any belief that things happen for a reason out the window.
I admit it - I'm afraid. I'm afraid of bad things happening. I'm not a pessimist, and I don't mean I'm spending my days shaking in a blanket, but I'm definitely no longer the woman I was ten years ago, or even a year and a half ago. Things have changed. I've seen bad things happen. It's not logical, it's not predictable, it's not fair.
I keep my fear in a small box, lid on - and do my best to make each day a happy one. Sometimes, though, life shakes that box a little and some seeps out. I wish I could be just "optimistic" without "cautiously" to qualify it. Rewind, and somehow undo. I guess that's life, though.
Parenthood is going to be scary. I am wholeheartedly signing up, but don't think for a moment that I'm not on to the bad monsters under the bed.