Now that I’ve been moving into a healthier place (I’m damn near perky), I’ve been feeling extremely grateful, both because I’m doing better at realizing what a treat this pregnancy is, but also because from this new perspective, I’m finding a lot to be proud of in what I built with Leigh, and how Gail and I have handled these first few years of parenting together.
I’ve been doing lots of thinking about online friends who have worked very hard to get to the place that I am now, who have struggled (or are struggling) to get pregnant while they are already parenting a child that their partner birthed. I’m thinking of people like Bree (who just made her fabulously smart and snarky blog public, you really should go read her if you don’t already) and Chicory, and others who haven’t gotten to this lucky spot yet. This is going to be tricky to write because it’s going to sound like I’m almost saying things you should never ever say. To be very clear, in what follows I am not saying something like “Oh, you should be grateful for what you have” (i.e. at least you have your first child).
Before this pregnancy, I knew that I’d done a good job with Leigh, and I knew that Gail and I had navigated some of the trickier parts of two-mom family building. I didn’t doubt my parenting of Leigh or my place in our family, but also obviously wanted very much to carry a child. Now that I’m here, I’m finding that it is less of a change than I expected. In looking forward, and looking back, it seems much clearer from this vantage point, that even though I am absolutely gaining something I really wanted (an awful lot– i.e. the experience of pregnancy), that gain, as delightful as it is, pales in comparison to what I already had.
This may be partly because, try as I might, I can only come up with two regrets about Leigh’s early months, and one is just barely a regret. The first is that I wish we’d taken a picture of me giving her a bottle. I was always alone when giving her bottles, so we have about 3 million Gail nursing pictures, and no bottle pictures, even though those are some of my fondest memories of her first year. The second (this is the barely one) is that shadow of doubt about my role as Leigh’s mom that kept me from seriously considering inducing lactation, but honestly, even without that doubt, I’m not sure it would have been a good idea, or significantly changed my relationship with Leigh. If I had more regrets, or if there were areas where I held my tongue (ha!) deferred to Gail, relying on more of a “tit for tat” with our then-very-theoretical second, I might not be feeling this way. But even though I’ll be nursing (fingers crossed), am excited to birth, and hope to see something of my looks in this new baby (yes, as Gail said, I am secretly hoping for a red-head, but with Leigh’s beautiful tanning skin, though genetic probability is unlikely to smile upon me in this regard), all of that feels like a bonus as opposed to something central, even though these were all things I was truly prepared to go to the mat for (Yes, despite my doctor avoidance, I would have done multiple IVF/FET rounds if necessary. Absolutely).
So again, to be clear, I’m not saying to folks trying to walk this bumpy road that they are so lucky to have their existing child that they should just count their blessings, give up and be quiet. Not at all. Instead, I hope this is more of a voice from the future, or perhaps a voice from a different path, saying that what you have really is precious, and that hopefully when/if you get your BFP, you’ll see that you have a lot to be proud of, too. Hopefully you already know you have a lot to be proud of.