I remember the moment I mentioned the idea of our second child to Justin. We were laying on the couch and I had been thinking about it for months, maybe even years, always knowing that I wanted my kids close together. Not as close as my sister and me, who are 16 months apart. That's just crazy, I don't know what my mother was thinking. (Except that when I finally did the math when I was about 19, I suddenly became sure that I was an accident. Who in their right mind gets pregnant when their baby is 7 months old? My mom assured me that I was planned, giving me TMI by telling me she even said to my dad. "Tonight's the night!")
Anyway, back to my idea of my second child. I'd always known that I wanted my kids close together. In my mind, that equals CLOSE. I wanted my kids CLOSE. I think I knew this always, before I met my husband, before I thought about kids specifically with him. But I know my husband, and I thought maybe he wasn't quite ready to talk about another baby when Ben was barely crawling, even though I was. So I waited him out. And in that moment, I thought maybe he'd be ready to hear about it. So I casually said, "So I was thinking, maybe we should start trying when Ben turns one. Hope to have our kids about two years apart." I thought he'd protest, tell me to slow down, remind me that I always get ahead of myself. (I do.) But instead, he turned to me, and said, "Only if our next one's as cute as this one." And it was settled.
A few days after Ben turned one, we learned I was pregnant. We had overshot it. Turned out I got pregnant when Ben was only 11 months, as I was still breastfeeding him. I was late, but I didn't think much of it. Afterall, I had just gotten my period again. Justin suggested I take a test just to be sure, and I scoffed at him. It's a long story, but I was 9 weeks pregnant with Ben before I finally got a positive pregnancy test - they just all came back negative, even the blood test in the doctor's office. They never could explain that one to me. But point being, I had no faith in the accuracy of a pregnancy test.
I took one anyway.
And it came back with a little book highlighted, which according to the directions, means you should read (and follow) the directions. (I did).
Told you I had no faith in those pregnancy tests.
I waited a couple more days. No period.
Finally picked up more pregnancy tests.
Justin was running on the treadmill in the basement, and I went down there to show him. "I think that's two lines," I said. He almost fell off the treadmill.
I freaked out a little when we did the math. December. This year! How could we have a baby this year? That was not the plan!
The news took a while to sink in. I was hoping for another spring baby. Maybe March or so. But December? This year? I thought about how we should have been more careful, we should have waited. I thought about how my kids would be 20 months apart and maybe I was just as crazy as my mother.
I stopped drinking. I kept running. I couldn't eat. I lost 8 pounds. I tried not to think ahead, tried to wait out that first trimester.
And suddenly, it was the beginning of June, and we were in the safe zone. We could breathe easier, we could plan, we could think ahead. I could get excited. And suddenly, I was.
When we spread the news, a lot of people said things to me like "We're you just pregnant?" I'd laugh and say, "If you think that, imagine how I feel!"
I'd say things like, "We overshot it a bit. But I figure if our biggest problem is that our baby comes a couple months earlier than planned, then we're doing pretty well." I'd say, "I've had a lot of friends who have trouble getting pregnant. Who would love to have this problem." I'd say this to myself, to reassure myself, to remind myself that even if I had no idea how I was going to breastfeed an infant while chasing a toddler, this was a GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE.
I didn't show for quite a while. They say the second pregnancy, you show sooner, but that wasn't the case for me. Maybe because I lost so much weight that first trimester (the doctor said not to worry about it). Or maybe because I kept running until I was 24 weeks pregnant and then was at the gym about 4 times a week after that. Or maybe because I was burning so many calories chasing my son. But I wore my normal clothes until about 20 weeks, and with Ben, I switched into them at about 14 or 15 weeks. I felt good. I looked good. And most importantly, the baby looked good. She always looked good.
It was July 28 when we found out we were having a girl. "You have a son at home?" the ultrasound tech asked. When we responded yes, she said, "He's going to have a sister!" I was shocked. Shocked. My jaw dropped wide open and I asked the ultrasound tech to check several more times. "I do this for a living," she said at one point. And Justin elbowed me, telling me later I was insulting her by questioning her. This is a post for another time, but I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I was carrying another boy. Mostly because I wanted a girl so badly.
We were thrilled.
The weeks passed quickly, and I'd always say, "Can you believe I'm 24 weeks?" then "Can you believe I'm 30 weeks?" And at the end, "Can you believe she'll be here in a little over a month?" We took our weekly belly photo, just like we did with Ben. I made a point of doing that, though it would be easy to forgo it. I wanted to make sure I did all those things for the second that we did for the first. I am the second, and I know what it's like to feel less special, less important.
I never wanted my daughter to feel that way.
I'm not sure what the point of this post is. We all already know what happens next.
Except to point out, that when you lose your child to stillbirth, you don't just lose the dreams you had when you carried them. You lose all the dreams and plans you ALWAYS had for them. My whole life. I didn't just think about Lydie since she was conceived in March. She was always in the plan. Always. I lost that all, along with my daughter.
When I first heard the news that my daughter was gone, I thought about how in April, I was so overwhelmed when I found out I was pregnant. I thought maybe my daughter sensed that my first reaction was not joy, as it should have been. It was "oh shit, not yet." It was wondering how I could take that time off work. It was worrying about fucking scheduling. And health insurance. It was so stupid.
It took me a while to get to the joy part. Sometimes, when I feel guilty about this, I think how her whole closet and dresser is filled with clothes. I think about how I spent a whole afternoon driving around to find the perfect frame for the print for her nursery. I think about how her dad and I started contributing to a 529 for her months ago. I think about the little Christmas outfit her Aunt Laura just made me buy her, telling me even if she only got to wear it once or twice, Lydie just had to have a Christmas outfit. And I realize, that even if my initial reaction was that overwhelmed feeling, there never was a moment that I didn't want my daughter. I hope that's what she felt, not that overwhelmed feeling when I saw two lines on the pregnancy test.