Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Choosing to Celebrate Life

Some of you may know that in 2008 I suffered a series of miscarriages. I'm fairly open about my experience partly because I feel it is important to share to help raise awareness about miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Sadly this week a friend lost her darling daughter at 33 weeks gestation, and I find myself contemplating loss again. I suppose the reality of there never being a safe point in pregnancy has been weighing on me and it's raised some interesting questions in my mind.

You see there is a school of thought that a woman shouldn't announce her pregnancy until she is out of the first trimester or had a good ultrasound. This will save her the heartache of having to "un-announce" should something bad happen. I've heard many women chastise expectant moms who tell too early as being "naive" or "ignorant." And those are the nice adjectives.

Now perhaps my experiences, which I won't go into too much, color my perception of this "rule." During my miscarriages, I didn't find out until I was nearly seven weeks pregnant and already miscarrying. There was no celebrations of those pregnancies. I only mourned them. I never got to excitedly plan a way to tell my husband and family or put my son in a "Big Brother" t-shirt.

So when I found out I was expecting Sydney early and with no signs of problems, I took an unexpected approach. I told. I told everyone. We put our son in a Big Brother shirt and over to my parents only a few days after I got the positive test. I told my friends. I announced it on Facebook. According to most, these are the cardinal sins of pregnancy after loss. I was supposed to wait. I was supposed to have blood tests and ultrasounds. I didn't do any of those things. I just celebrated.

I was scared. I'll admit it. But there was something liberating in sharing so early, as though I had carved a place for this child already and that no matter how long we had with this baby, her life was celebrated. In joy, I found calmness. Because the fact is, we don't know how long we will hold our children. Each moment we have with them is precious and for me those moments start when the "yes" appeared on the test. There is no magic event that guarantees a healthy pregnancy or baby. The loss of little Julia reminds me of this.

But why do I think its important to celebrate pregnancy? Simply because I know how easy it is to get bitter. I've been bitter. I've seen others become bitter. It doesn't serve anyone to hate those who announce a pregnancy early or post status updates on Facebook. And when the time comes, I hope joy and celebration win out over bitterness and fear. Because our time with our children from the moment we learn of their impending arrival and forward are fewer than we would like. There will be jobs and chores and errands all conspiring to keep us from spending every moment doting on them, even if we would like to.

As a mother, I've learned that children change quickly. In the bat of an eye, my son went from a swaddled, sleeping baby to a wild, willful toddler. As I mourned my pregnancy losses, one of the things that saddened me the most was the possibility that I would never be pregnant again, never hold a newborn, or see another first smile. I was mourning all the promise of those lives. Therefore it only made sense to me when the pregnancy test turned positive to start celebrating the promise of this child.

God willing in 6 short weeks, I will be holding a beautiful baby girl. For now I'm trying to enjoy the kicks and rolls, the way my belly button has popped out, and the many tiny baby items filtering into my home or out of storage. I've had 33 beautiful weeks with this child so far and many more to come.


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