Weeks before Advent began, I began preparing for the days ahead. One of the little things was to purchase new Christmas-y puzzles to work on together. When the time came to pull them out, I found myself strangely nauseated at the sight of them. The nausea itself wasn’t strange, I’d been feeling it for weeks, but the fact that puzzles made me feel worse was unexpected. I could hardly stand to look at the pieces scattered on the table. We eventually finished one, and have another half-finished on the puzzle table now. I keep waiting for last winter’s puzzle mania to take hold of me, but so far it hasn’t.
I’ve been keeping a secret, and it feels a little hard to say it out loud or write it here. We have lost three babies in recent years and I did not believe that we would be having more children. The losses taught me that a positive pregnancy test does not guarantee a living child. Of course, I always knew that but it was only in recent years that I lived it. And then there is the fact that I just celebrated my forty-third birthday. Goodness, I have a twenty-year-old son. I’m no young thing! For the past year, I have been focused on this next phase of life. I’m heading into mid-life, right? It’s been tricky, knowing that I don’t actually know the plan and I have to navigate the place that I am in, while recognizing that it could always change. Sort of a “one foot in the door” mentality I guess, and that doesn’t come easily to me.
Within days of a positive pregnancy test in early November, I was in my OB’s office for blood tests. The results were good and indicated a healthy pregnancy. I tried not to think about it too much while we waited for my mid-December ultrasound, at what they call a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment. On the day of my appointment, I was pretty nervous. I didn’t realize just how much so until the nurse was leaving the exam room to get the doctor for the ultrasound and I asked her, “But didn’t you say you need to check my blood pressure?” She looked so confused as she told me, “I just did.” I hadn’t even noticed. I was in some other world. She asked me if I was nervous and I almost burst into tears. I think I was terrified.
It did not take long for us to find out that this baby was alive. Not only did it have a strong heartbeat, but it already had little feet and hands!!! I wasn’t expecting to see feet yet, and couldn’t stop saying, “It has feet! Look at them!” I wish I could have seen Jonny’s face, but he was sitting behind my head. My doctor told me that I was a bit further along than we thought. I couldn’t stop laughing and talking about those little wiggling feet.
So, this is my long-winded (as always) way of telling you that we are expecting a baby this summer, about a month after Mabel turns five. I am just into the second trimester and starting to feel a little bit more human. I’ve never been as exhausted and sick with a pregnancy before! Or maybe I’ve just forgotten because it’s been a while. I saw my doctor this week and we were once again reassured by a strong little heartbeat.
When I told my dad that I’m pregnant, he did a good job of congratulating us (he is not Catholic and not super comfortable with our Catholic ways so it’s hard for him) and went on to say that we can just start calling me “Sarah.” Ha! I’m not quite ninety yet, though I will say that pregnancy in my forties is feeling a little different than pregnancy in my twenties or even thirties.
The world feels a little shaky right now, to say the least. The combination of that with this pregnancy has forced me to slow way down. I have spent a lot of time thinking about so many things: how important it is to keep our faith first always, what I want our days to look like in reflection of that, and how best to walk in gratitude for all of the precious gifts I have been given. I am very thankful for my family and the necessity that I focus fully on them right now. The last couple of months have been some combination of hope and messiness and I feel like I’ll never get on top of anything again. I’m old enough now to fully recognize that the mess will wait.
It was a really good Christmas despite pregnancy sickness/exhaustion + a stomach virus. That virus was terrible! Anyway, I made clothes for Bridget, Mabel’s doll, but that was the extent of me making much of anything. I was happy that I made so many mushroom ornaments earlier in the year since I wasn’t up to much crafting in the weeks surrounding Christmas. We did manage to make cinnamon applesauce ornaments (those never turn out great for us, but they smell good) and some homemade candy together. For Christmas, I filled stockings, bought a few books and games, and then gave a bit of money. I was just too exhausted to do more. Gabriel, always generous, bought really nice gifts for his younger siblings and that was a wonderful surprise for them. He gave Silas a fancy fishing rod and Job a race track that everyone has had a lot of fun with. We went to Mass on Christmas morning and walked out to find it snowing. What a magical, wonderful Christmas gift. I take a photo of my girls every year with Baby Jesus at the front of our church but this year we couldn’t pull it off. I guess our silly half-masked photo will be a good reminder of what 2020 was like. A mixture of joy and unexpected things like children wearing masks in church. I think we’ve made the best of things.
p.s. I’m including one more detail because of my age and my losses, and because you might wonder if something changed resulting in this healthy pregnancy (thus far-I still feel very cautious, though I’m not sure what good that will do. I may as well just let myself get excited.) Last summer, my regular doctor strongly encouraged me to start using topical progesterone because my levels were low, had been for years, and she thought it would give me some energy. Some of you have suggested it to me as well and I had used it sporadically in recent years, but this time I committed to sticking with using it for a few months. It did give me more energy and I was feeling the best I have in some time using it. I didn’t expect that to result in a baby though! When I found out I was pregnant, my OB put me on prescription progesterone right away, and I do believe that having been using it topically for a few months before getting pregnant in addition to the prescription I started after finding out I was pregnant made the difference. I’m so thankful!