Five years ago, I found myself pregnant with a dream fulfilled. A little boy, our second child. There are three and a half years between our kids, but we didn’t plan it that way. I expected our second to come sooner.
Waiting and praying for the first child used up all the minerals of hope in my heart. I cried and prayed the prayers desperate mothers have prayed for all of human history. I wrung out all my faith mixed with cynicism while we waited for a year to see if conception was even possible. But it wasn’t one year. It was 12 months, 52 weeks, 12 disappointments before we saw two lines.
By the time we wanted our second child, I didn’t have the energy for hope. I prayed a few prayers. Tried to care. Tried not to care. But the delayed longing from our first child left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, afraid to dream, afraid to hope.
Then in the midst of my half-hope, half-doubt, I found out I was expecting a second time. I didn’t do anything fancy to get this kid, not like the last one. I didn’t cry, pray or yell as much. He just came, a surprise, and I felt like I didn’t deserve him.
A few weeks into the pregnancy, I thought we were going to lose him. But for whatever reason, life hung on and grew inside me. There was sickness in the early days, but there was always joy. And gratitude.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, I forgot the dream fulfilled of the human inside me. Days from delivering, I expanded, wide, cranky and tired. My feet, swollen with edema, were so puffy I could press my fingerprints into them. I’d rarely felt unattractive or embarrassed of my body, but I no longer looked like myself. I felt swallowed up by fluid and pregnancy.
All the discomfort was enough to make me forget how overwhelmed with joy I felt when we first learned of the coming of our second child. I couldn’t believe my body could do it again. My son would have a sibling. There would be four of us. Finally.
When he first came into existence, I reveled at the news. Yet in the last weeks of pregnancy, carrying the long-awaited dream felt burdensome. I just wanted it to be over.
Mercifully, the memory of this baby as a dream returned to me. I reminded myself, despite the aching body, extra wobbly bits and a waddling gait, I fought for this. I wanted this. I knew all this discomfort was part of the deal, and I wanted it anyway. I wanted to carry this dream with my body, to make this exact sacrifice. And there he was, waking me with a belly kick.
I still forget in the midst of the life around me, of long days and nights, moments of doubting or regret, that these are the beautiful things I once dreamed of. This small home, with two boys wrestling on the floor, with art projects strewn across the kitchen table and a half-drank glass of milk on the counter, this mess is the trappings of the life I worried might be impossible. But now it’s here, it’s mine to nurture, care for and love. It’s mine to remember that once, it was only just a dream.