This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.
For more than 30 weeks I’ve been keeping a secret.
I’m pregnant. With child. Knocked up. Got a bun in the oven. Up the duff. In the pudding club. On stork watch. Preggers. In the family way. That’s right, in less than two months I’m due to have another baby and I couldn’t be, well, more terrified. Not just of how I’m going to cope with having three children under five (Well hello, Mr. Gin Bottle) but of this pregnancy itself.
Which is precisely why I haven’t told people—most people—until now.
For me, being pregnant is something of a rollercoaster ride with more stomach-churning drops than exhilarating peaks. It is—for the most part—a white-knuckle experience where faith is my seatbelt and hope, the safety rail. And I’ve struggled in this pregnancy—more so than any other—to allow myself to believe that it’s real. That at the end of it I will have a healthy, happy, very much alive baby in my arms that I get to take home.
And I suspect that feeling of being scared to let yourself relax is probably true for anybody who has lost a pregnancy. Lost a child.
Of course it wasn’t always that way.
The first time I got pregnant my girlfriends Katie and Nic stood with me in the kitchen as together we stared at that just-peed-on pregnancy stick: Come on! Come on!
When the faintest second line started to form we whooped and cheered like Lotto winners and I was planning nurseries and buying copies of Possum Magic and sticking cushions up my dress and, well, eating for two before the test had even dried. Back then, in 2006, as Brad and I joyfully told people I was pregnant (PREGNANT! WOOO!) it just never even dawned on me that I’d be “one of those people” who would ever suffer from a miscarriage.
Just a few weeks later I found out that I was exactly “one of those people” when I miscarried the baby (or the “product of conception” as the medical community likes to say) during a trip to Townsville. I was alone. In a hotel room. Hours later I was expected on stage at a writers festival.
From then on I experienced pregnancy differently. Joyful, yes. But cautious. Scared. Once you’ve lost a pregnancy, well suddenly the rose-colored glasses are off and you tend to be a little more jaded.
Since that first pregnancy in 2006, I’ve gone on to be pregnant another four times. But so far, I have just two little people I tuck into bed at night: Ava (born in 2008) and Fin (born early last year). What many of you know (and some of you perhaps don’t) is that in 2010 my daughter Georgie was stillborn at just over 36 weeks.
For the past 30 weeks I’ve been too scared to even assume another little bundle is coming home. Other than my closest friends and those people who mistakenly get in my way when I’m at the Sizzler buffet (and who are somewhat startled by my size) I’ve kept this pregnancy quiet. I’ve resisted buying clothes. Or toys or strollers. Turned down offers of baby showers or celebratory lunches. There’s been no gushing about ultrasound scans. No clucking about how excited I am to have another newborn in the house. I haven’t even bought a new crib—even though we need one. In other words, I’ve tried to stop myself from emotionally connecting with this newest little one. I could count on two fingers the number of times I’ve placed my hands on my belly and whispered “I can’t wait to meet you.”
I’ve done none of that in the mistaken belief that somehow I was protecting myself if something should go tragically wrong. Again. Don’t bond with the baby, I’ve thought. Don’t assume this one is coming home. Don’t get attached.
But then, just this week I realized how ridiculous I was being.
For starters it is impossible to cotton wool yourself from life’s hurts and traumas. No amount of sitting quietly in the corner, or trying to fly under the radar is any type of insurance against tragedy striking. And what I have to believe—what I have to know—is that whatever happens in the next eight weeks, I’ll be OK. If the worst happens, then yes it will bring me to my knees and no doubt plunge me into darkness for a time but I have it in me to survive. To cope. To get back up and keep going. Because I’ve done it before.
And it’s not just about being pregnant. It’s anything in life. You don’t stop getting in a car just because you’re worried about having a car accident. You don’t stop going on dates because you’ve been hurt by people in the past.
And you know what else? This new little baby deserves to be celebrated; not born under a dark cloud of anxiety and fear. I’m pregnant! WOOOO! This new little noodle was very much planned and wanted by every member of my tribe and for the next two months I’m going to cheer on this baby to cross that finish line.
Because, as of yesterday, there’s a brand new crib waiting for him or her at home.
Rebecca Sparrow is a contributing editor at Mamamia.com.au. She is also the author of four books including The Girl Most Likely (which is in development as a feature film) and Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school). You can read more about Bec on her website which you can find here, or follow her on twitter here and Facebook here.