|See, look how serious I am|
It is the feast of Saint Lucy today, a big one in our house since this is the first year that we have our own little Lucy to celebrate with. I will probably bake some cookies that she can't eat in honor of the day, any excuse to load up on sugary baked goods.
It was also a year ago today that I found out I was expecting our baby that we lost, Ignatius John.
I've read so many great posts on miscarriage and the loss of babies, many that have been extremely comforting and inspiring. I am not trying to write one of those and definitely not trying to preach about anything. I have only lost one baby so far and it was a very early miscarriage, not that that lessens the loss, but I don't feel like I have a bunch of wisdom or inspiration to offer anyone, maybe comfort, but that would be by accident.
Today just has me thinking about how the little baby that we lost, even though we never got to hold him or see him on an ultrasound, has changed me in a lot of ways that I did not expect.
Before we concieved Naomi I had some weird unfounded fears of infertility and for a few days thought a lot about what it would be like to never be given a child-- then a whole 3 weeks after our honeymoon we found out we were expecting her and the fears went out the window. I had a teeny bit of bleeding at the begining of that pregnancy where I worried about miscarriage but then it went away and so did my worries.
After giving birth to Naomi I felt like I was punched in the face with the difficulties that accompany motherhood: the discomforts, the sleep loss, the innumerable things that a baby does to mess with my routine and all the things I wanted or needed to do, even just go to the bathroom-- my attitude became pretty sour.
Then when Naomi was 9 months old we conceived Bernadette. When we found out about the pregnancy I spent most of the day crying, worrying and being completely scared and overwhelmed. How was I going to get through the first few months of feeling awful with a baby to care for? How was I going to continue to nurse her? What my milk dried up and couldn't nurse anymore?
And it was really hard. Naomi has always been a ridiculously early riser, so the 5 a.m. mornings feeling like I was going to barf and trying to stay awake to care for her were really tough. Miscarriage certainly never entered my thoughts. Fertility had started to become a burden in my mind by this point. We had gotten pregnant 2 times in a row first shot out of the box, all the typical pregnancy symptoms followed, and then we had a healthy perfect baby. This was just what happened to an ultrafertile gal like myself. Or so I thought.
Once Bernadette was 3 months old I started freaking out about the possibility of becoming pregnant again, I was an anxious wreck any time I felt even a twinge of nausea for many months, even though my fertility did not even return until she was 10 months old. I had talked a lot about wanting a huge gap between kid 2 and 3. I had finally lost all the weight from both pregnancies and then some, I was happy with how I felt and looked and we had a great routine and good schedules for the girls. Changing that did not sound fun.
Conversations surrounding openness to life for me and Mike often ended in an argument because I was sure that he just did not understand all that I would be burdened with if we got pregnant again. The conversations always left me feeling put upon and overwhelmed. After all, I was the one who was going to bear this child, I was the one who would get sick, feel exhausted, not enjoy eating for months, and everything else that goes along with pregnancy. I would be the one who would give birth to the baby. I would be the one losing most of he sleep after the baby came, etc...
Eventually I softened to the idea of another baby and, of course, the first time we "were open" to getting pregnant, we got pregnant. I had a feeling that I was since I was having some of the symptoms that I typically have leading up to finding out, then on December 13, 2011, we got the positive pregnancy test. I was actually really excited, unexpectedly so for me. I only cried from feeling overwhelmed a couple times, but mostly I cried tears of joy.
You can read the rest of that experience here.
We found out that we miscarried only 3 weeks after finding out we were expecting.
It obviously did not take long for us to conceive again after we lost that baby. However the difference in my attitude leading up to conceiving Lucy and after finding out we were expecting her was worlds different. In the weeks of waiting to get pregnant again after miscarrying I would have given anything to be pregnant. I was so scared of how long it would take us, and had no expectation whatsoever that we would conceive quickly, although I was hopeful that we would.
All of the sudden my fertility became in my mind what it is: a gift, a completely undeserved and gratuitous gift. And another baby became in my mind what it actually is: a person who belongs first to God who gives him/her to me to have as a gift. I always knew these things, but at some point I had stopped acting like this was the case. After the miscarriage I would find myself just staring at Noami and Bernadette feeling so badly for taking their coming into existence so for granted and feeling more grateful than ever that they had been given to me.
Finding out that we were pregnant with Lucy was surreal and so exciting and so different than any other time finding out- it felt so precarious. I was sure at so many points during the pregnancy that we were going to lose her. I remember saying to Mike one night how amazed I was going to be if nothing went wrong and if we actually got to hold this baby. I spent so much time- too much time- worrying that something would go wrong.
But there was a real change that will probably always remain: I knew this baby was a freely given and undeserved gift and that I was not in control of it. It did not feel like a burden, but a gift. A gift that would ask lots of sacrifice, yes, but still a gift. And since Lucy's birth I have stared at her in a new way, a way that I couldn't have if I had never lost the baby before her.
If children are given to us to aid in our conversion, than Ignatius' life has done more from his mere 5 weeks on earth than I ever would have imagined and I am eternally grateful.
Happy feast day!