One of my favorite things to do in a new house is to see what kind of plants grow in the yards through the first year. There are always surprises, but usually not much. Although I am a novice, I enjoy gardening, and I love plants. I like to know what they are all called and at least the first thing or two about them. Here at our new house, not many things have grown. However, in late Spring I was doing some weeding and hesitated to pull a little guy growing right by my front steps. It just looked like something special that deserved to live compared to all the oxalis and dandelions that I was ripping out by the roots. Over the next few weeks the little plant got bigger, and I was glad that I had left it. I wasn't sure, yet, if it was something I should have left, but I was still curious and willing to let the little bit of nature take its course.
During that time in May, when the dogwood trees are in bloom, I love to celebrate the birth of my second son who was born on the twelfth. It was such a lovely birth, and the beautiful dogwoods always remind me of walking the blocks in my old neighborhood with my husband and then my friend while I was in labor with him. I started to be a little sad that I wasn't walking those blocks since we were at our new house. I think it was then that I felt my first little pangs that none of my babies were born in the house we now "owned" (with our good friend, BANK).
If you look back at the posts on this blog from the Spring and Summer, you'll see that most of them address self-care and my simple pleasures. I was finally feeling like I was having a break in the shallow end rather than desperately treading shark infested waters! I had started taking a medication that was really helping my fatigue and brain fog, symptoms of my POTS and autoimmune disease that were still really keeping me miserable and struggling even though some of the other more debilitating things were already controlled by other meds. I had reached a great new place in which I felt some hope that I could still have good days, even some great ones! In that new place, I looked up, finally, at the state of things. I had a baby girl who was no longer a baby, a beautiful guest room and master suite that were just begging for a baby and a birth, and sons who were wondering when we'd ever have another kid in our family. I could not believe I was thinking this way! My switch just suddenly flipped. I was completely happy to NOT have a baby each time I helped at a delivery or saw my breastfeeding or pregnant friends, but now... Oh, man, I was in trouble.
I was afraid this little growing idea in my heart was a weed, and I didn't say it aloud to anyone for a while. But I did start asking God to rip it out if it was a weed. I was afraid that this was a little seed of discontent. Things were feeling so much better; I was basking in my blessings, and here I was wishing for more and starting to be sad that I didn't have, probably couldn't have another baby. My endocrinologist had been pretty clear when I began seeing him that I should probably cool it on the childbearing since reproductive stress (you can say that again!) is a strain on the thyroid. I was afraid that it was just silly and selfish for me to want another kid, and I kept imagining all the doctors (and everyone else) shaking their heads at me and thinking, "Leave well-enough alone, lady! You already have THREE!!! You even already have both sexes!" Friends, those thoughts were the weeds, and they almost choked out that other little plant. It took more effort to control those thoughts than it takes to control these dang northwest dandelions. The first time I floated the idea to my husband, he was very surprised, but agreed that having another one of these crazy people would be awesome. When I talked to my counselor about it, I walked out feeling for the first time since I'd noticed the thought like it was OK for me to have it. So, I decided to protect it. I decided not to try to root it out. I prayed about it everyday and watched it grow. I could see that it probably wasn't a weed, but I wasn't sure if it would be OK to keep it forever.
I wasn't sure that I could keep it forever because I was still so, so afraid that I was being selfish. I knew that a pregnancy would make me needy, potentially VERY needy. I do not like to be needy, and I was terrified that I would just be burdening our family and all the people we love by adding another person. My family already feels unwieldy, and here I was thinking about making it even more so. I'm sad for myself now that these fears were so big, but I'm grateful that they did make their way through my heart and mind. I needed to see how much I still needed to grow in my willingness to just be loved. I decided that I wanted to start talking about it with my friends and the family members it would most immediately effect if we did it.
While this idea began to grow so big that I had to decide to make room for it, the little plant by my front steps was doing the same thing. I moved a couple of other things I'd planted out front because obviously this little guy was meant to be there and loving the spot. In August, just before our big church camping trip, the plant made a very interesting little head of buds. It was about to show itself! I would go out and check it first thing each morning. As we packed up the van, I decided to talk to my friends and brothers and sisters-in-law to get a read on whether my fears had any place. The whole drive there, I was running baby names past Brendan. On our last day, sitting in the sun on the grass near the beach, I finally broke down and cried and shared all that I was terrified by. I was received with love and more tears by people who were willing to encourage me and give me the outright declarations of love and loyalty that I was really, really needing to hear- not because they ever gave me reason to doubt it, but because I struggle to believe that I'm worth any trouble. I was relieved and excited to keep giving harbor to my little growing idea. And when we got home, my plant had bloomed with a beautiful cluster of pink, peachy little precious flowers. I did a little investigation: it was a Verbena.
I didn't yet know what this baby idea was yet. Was it the first steps towards having someone new in my body and in our lives? Was it the prompting I needed to start saving for an adoption? Or, was it the beginning of my need to grieve the loss of my ability to have more babies? I was so scared that the last option was the case that I didn't do the google search that I knew could answer most of my questions and would be Step 1. Through prayer, I finally arrived at a day when I felt ready to enter the words "POTS pregnancy." Lo and behold, there was a recent study showing that POTS symptoms improved during pregnancy and that it posed no additional risk to mother or baby. Well, that was the boost I needed. I emailed my neurologist who, very kindly, called me to say that he thought it was a definite possibility, but that I'd need to see a high-risk OB to make sure things would be OK with my meds.
By the time I saw the OB, I was not nervous. I had read the research on everything and figured I just needed her approval and agreement to all the conclusions I'd come to on my own. It was the very best doctor visit of my life. She was a lovely person, and everything went as well as it possibly could have. Compared to the visits I had had over the past two years that were so full of fear and confusion, this visit was such a joy. I knew what I was talking about, and the room was so full of hope. She said we could start trying whenever we wanted and that there was "no reason you can't have a baby." Even the meds I was on were the exactly right choices for a POTS pregnancy. I had anticipated that this would be my moment of truth. That moment when you've ordered the chicken only to suddenly and clearly realize that you wanted the beef. I figured that once all the other barriers were cleared Brendan and I would know if we really were brave enough, willing and excited enough, to accept the reproductive stress. We both immediately reacted with a resounding, "YAYYYY!!!!!"
Two weeks ago, though, off my med that was finally giving me energy (the only med not cool for pregnancy) and at the end of a week of me and three children being quite sick, I was exhausted and second-guessing the whole thing. "I can't do this!" I cried to Brendan. "At the end of the day, it all comes down to whether or not I can handle this, and I'm scared that I can't. I'm afraid of being an inconvenience! I'm afraid of being alone in the difficulties. I'm afraid it will take too long, or maybe I won't get pregnant at all." We just kept praying, and I prayed that if God wanted me to do this baby thing, that he would make it quick. Well, he answered that prayer, and he answered it quickly, kind, gracious, generous God that he is. We only found out on Friday, but I'm telling everyone and their mother. I find it a kindness of God that I got a positive test the morning before our church's women's retreat. I got to go with so many of my fears already relieved. And just like I needed to be with God's people on that camping trip to share my fears and think things through, it was great to be with God's people to share the joy. It's a break from the social norm, but I'm telling you I'm pregnant at only 4 weeks (probably) along. I know how it feels to lose a baby, and it does suck to tell everyone. BUT, your knowing means that maybe you will remember to pray, and I want to enjoy every possible moment of this child's life with us. Already, in only three days, he or she has brought joy and healing to me.
Around the time my Verbena starts to get buds, I will, hopefully, be giving birth. Praise be to God who "satisfies your desires with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagle's." POTS has made me feel old, but this baby makes me feel young!