“It’s OK, Mommy. You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)
Nearly four years ago, three months after my fourth birth, I wrote the last installment of my “birth story” in a post titled “Surrender, part 5.” In it I shared my somewhat graphic discovery that my youngest daughter was likely originally sharing my womb with a twin who stopped growing very early in the pregnancy. I finished the post with these words:
We can’t know for certain whether there was, in fact, a vanished twin. But my heart feels it’s true, especially when I’m in a room with my family and keep looking around for the one who’s missing, only to realize we’re all already in the room. Or when my baby girl’s face lights up in a huge grin, as though she’s looking at an invisible someone she adores, sitting or standing next to me.
Thinking and writing about it all, I can feel that bit of sadness and loss fading away, leaving peace and understanding in its place. And, even now, my eyes well up with tears of knowing… Yes, I know it now. I can feel it in my bones. I can see it in my tears and in the burning, overwhelming love and joy filling me and surrounding me. Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.
P.S. I gave birth to a baby boy in my dreams two nights ago.
Over the past four years I have become more and more intimately acquainted with this unborn child. He has visited my dreams, appeared in visions, made his presence palpable occasionally at family dinners or gatherings, and all along the way I have told him, “I don’t know if I can do it.” His response has always been a kind, patient, loving, “Whatever you decide is OK. I’ll find my way into your family somehow.” But all the while, he was persistent in his determination to make me aware that he was still there, still waiting, still full of love for me, still hoping to come to this earth through my body.
Most of you know how my mental health has been for the past year. February of 2014, I had weaned very slowly (over a year) down to a negligible dose of my SSRI, hoping to get pregnant after the meds were out of my system. Not long after stopping my meds, I opened up a book I had purchased the month before, A Promise of Hope, by Autumn Stringham. I wrote in more depth about this experience here.
I found myself reading about Autumn’s vision of her unborn daughter. Though Autumn was battling severe bipolar disorder and had resolved to commit suicide, this vision… seeing herself healthy and happy with a future daughter… saved her life. She went on to recover completely and gave birth to the daughter she has seen in vision. As I read about her experience, I felt hopeful that maybe I, too, would meet the child I had seen in vision. I hoped for a complete healing like the recovery Autumn experienced after stopping her medication and implementing a blend of vitamins and minerals.
Instead I crashed into the worst hell I’ve ever endured. Life was an anxiety-ridden, depressed, often-suicidal agony for the following six months. During that time, I didn’t know if I would survive a day or a week, let alone ever be well enough to give birth again. As my body endured the whiplash of reintroducing medication, adding another temporary anxiety medication, and then horrific withdrawals from weaning off that temporary med, I really felt like I was lost forever.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, I found myself feeling better and better. By February, my bad days were fewer and fewer, and I felt prompted to start yoga teacher training. My daily yoga/meditation practice brought even more health and happiness. Even so, I told my husband a couple of months ago that I didn’t feel comfortable consciously choosing to get pregnant. Taking SSRIs during pregnancy is something many women do, but I just didn’t think I could purposely take on any risks that might be involved, and I didn’t feel I could put my family through any potential emotional upheaval that might result from the stress of another pregnancy and caring for another baby. I had already put my husband, family, and friends through so much. I was feeling stable and happy most of the time, and I didn’t want to throw any wrenches into that hard-earned calm. I told my husband, “I think the only way I could have the courage to be pregnant again is if it happened by accident.”
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pregnancy yoga class with one of my classmates from teacher training. She said it was her favorite yoga class even though she’s not pregnant. I figured it would be a good idea to see how they teach pregnant women ’cause I’d like to teach pregnancy yoga classes once I’m certified. So I showed up and signed in. The teacher asked, “Are you pregnant?” I said, “Nooooo. I better not be!” and I laughed a sort of insecure, no-really-I-better-not-be laugh (’cause, actually, my period was late). The class was nice and gentle. I went home.
The next morning, my period still hadn’t started. I had a dollar-store pregnancy test in my cupboard. I didn’t think I was pregnant (we had been very careful to avoid pregnancy), but I wanted to know for sure, so I took out the test. I peed. I waited. And then I sent my husband some texts: “Reid… Reid…” I’m sure you’ve guessed by now what the test told me.
In those moments, I felt like someone had plucked me from the “lazy river” and thrown me into the white water rapids. I had a choice to make… was I going to go to fear, or was I going to go to faith? Ever since that day two weeks ago, I have been doing my best to surrender daily to faith instead of fear. And the words of my friends and family are certainly helping. A sampling of several of their independent (as in none of them were consulting each other, despite telling me much the same things over and over) text messages to me in response to my surprising news:
- “This will be a healing experience, I think.”
- “Breathe easy. God’s timing is perfect. He has been preparing you for this for some time.”
- “I have a strong feeling of peace for you, and know that it will be OK.”
- “I’m actually excited for your new baby. It’s going to be fine.”
- “You’ll be in my prayers. I know you have a lot of support, but I will add my voice to the chorus that you are a beautiful mother and your baby is blessed to have you.”
- “It will end up a huge blessing, and will restore your health. It’ll be amazing.”
- “I have a feeling this is going to be super healing for you!”
- “Trust in you.”
- “Whatever he sends your way he knows you can do and I know you can do!”
- “If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it!”
- “You are an amazing momma with amazing faith and have been working really hard to get better and it shows.”
- “There are blessings on the table for you to claim–claim them, with faith and no fear! I feel a powerful confirmation that that is true for you. . . . I encourage you to trust the Giver of Gifts and know that He has an abundance of them that He wants to give you. . . . I absolutely believe this is a healing opportunity for you!”
- “You can do this!”
- “I am so happy for you dear friend. What a long awaited blessing.”
- “You will not fail.”
- “I can only imagine it is him. Feels right to me.”
I am so grateful for faithful friends and family who have rallied around me with so much love and support through the past year and now on this unexpected journey into another pregnancy.
A few months ago, before I was pregnant, as I was meditating, I had a vision. I saw myself giving birth, surrounded by women I love. As my baby boy emerged from my body, I pulled him to my chest and sobbed tears of relief, crying, “I did it! I got him here! He’s here!” Tears fell from my actual eyes as I saw this vision. I choose to have faith that it was real.