When I was young, I always imagined myself a mother of four children. I grew up an only child, my mother’s only child. Starting at age 12 I would begin visiting my 4 half-siblings from my father and stepmother in Michigan and I always had so much fun. In my mind I thought 4 was the perfect number of kids to ensure a full and warm, happy household. 2 girls and 2 boys. Hahahaha (that’s the sound of life laughing at me).
It took years for me to get pregnant the first time, in 2011. I distinctly remember the elatedness and giddiness, the dreams, the plans, all inspired by 2 pink lines on the right test. Then it all fell apart a week and a half later when I had a miscarriage. A year and some change (is adding “and some change” strictly a black thing? Or regional/southern black?) later saw my dreams of expanding my family finally realized with the pregnancy of my first daughter, Ruby.
The only problem was the pregnancy was god-awful. Debilitating nausea. Daily vomit. Projectile vomit. Vomit after eating pizza where the tomato sauce acid burned my throat so badly I could not speak the rest of the evening. Desperately looking forward to the second trimester then bleakly realizing my nausea would continue unabated. In the third trimester, back and pelvic pain so bad that I could barely walk and resorted to working from home in the final weeks.
Maybe that was a fluke. Every pregnancy is different! The exclamation point is from the chipper Pregnancy Propaganda People. You know the ones. Who talk about how glowing and magical pregnancy is. Who tell you to just drink some ginger tea for your cute, containable nausea that disappears after the first trimester. Who tell you the baby moving is the most magical thing you will ever experience. Who don’t tell you how stressful it is when you can’t remember the last time the baby moved and shit is there a dead baby in there now? Who don’t tell you about ultrasounds, scans, and tests that catch every little thing and thus worry you unnecessarily that something could be wrong because this or that result was elevated or fluid this or umbilical cord that.
So, with some trepidation but still my undying Gemini optimism, I wanted another child. Along came Jade’s pregnancy! And guess what, this pregnancy WAS different!
In that I woke up the morning after Christmas slammed with a bad cold AND nausea so bad I couldn’t even keep water down. This time I got on anti-nausea medicine. I had to stay on the pills through 8 months. So this pregnancy was different, in that it was WORSE. The icing on the cake (I hate icing, by the way) was being due in the hottest month of the year, then being A WEEK OVERDUE in the hottest month of the year. A baby who wouldn’t stay in the gotdamn head-down position, and through a series of hijinks I’ll write about later, ended up with me having an emergency c-section.
And so, my dreams of having 4 children went up in smoke. My husband and I wearily agreed to keep it at 2. We read a study that said the happiest most harmonious households have 2 children, 2 daughters. Heyyyy that’s us! Plans begun for travel, career, education, activities.
Then, out of nowhere, the woman who had always had to try to get pregnant found herself 6 weeks pregnant with a baby. No, my cycle is just delayed from nursing Jade. No bitch, said the 2 pink lines. You thought!
But my body was ruined from Jade’s pregnancy. I had a hernia and severe diastais recti (separated abdominal muscles) that required surgical correction. I would have to have a c-section at 37 weeks due to the rare classical incision I had to get during Jade’s birth. I’ve likely shortened my life span getting pregnant so close together. I’m going to be losing money for miscellaneous bullshit like Sonic loses rings. The NAUSEA. THIS WAS NOT IN THE PLANS.
Life didn’t give one single damn about my objections. That was the beginning of my journey to true adaptation and peace. I cannot control all of the road, but I can control my car. I can make the best out of the car I have, to navigate these roads smoothly.
That sounds like bullshit probably, but I’m sleep-deprived so just nod your head and say “That’s deep.”
Anyway, I’ve just expanded my plans to include Pearl, who we did not expect, but will fully welcome and nurture. Never did I imagine myself the mom of 3 children. It was either 2 or 4 because 3 is odd. No, YOU are irrational. I CERTAINLY never imagined I would have 3 girls. The weight of responsibility for my part in guiding 3 (black) girls through this world is heavy. But it also gives me a strange clarity that I lacked before.
That will be a lot of the focus of my posts. This is Motherhood in theory and context. Your plans, dreams, ideas mean little to nothing in the context of real people, real interruptions, real stressors, reality period. But it doesn’t have to mean everything is ruined. As Corinne Bailey Rae sang in one of my favorite songs Diving For Hearts:
Worlds will all end
And new worlds will begin
It’s a thought so stark