Thanks to all of you for your congratulations and kind wishes; they mean a lot to us.
We're very fortunate to have a congenial readership, and so we can dispense with the givens up front. Yes, we're delighted at the idea of a new life; yes, it's exciting to think of a little brother for Jack, or another beautiful girl. Yes, even though we weren't expecting or planning to have another one so soon, we're glad to see our family grow and we look forward to meeting baby and introducing him or her to the world.
There, that was sweet. Now let's be a bit more gritty.
We were in denial, and then in shock, for several weeks after we discovered we were pregnant. It's hard to complain about a surprise pregnancy without sounding bitter or hostile, and yet the idea of five children is still hard to come around to. I think it's understandable that I'm not excited about having three kids under five years old again. I think it's excusable to feel ambiguous about the process of being pregnant, which is nine months of weariness and discomfort followed by some hours of miserable agony. It's less excusable, but perhaps understandable, to not immediately relish being that woman who drags her five small kids places. People think four kids are cute. People think five is a lot, and tell you so.
We had not planned to be pregnant; we did not want to be pregnant; many of our future plans involved not being pregnant. (So much for the big tenth anniversary trip we were just starting to save up for.) We did not cheat or push our luck or take risks; we made what appeared to be a standard call. Perhaps our scientific rigor was lacking. We had grown complacent, not taking the temperature at the same time every morning, and when the baby walked off with the thermometer after what seemed obviously to be three days of temperature rise, we figured it didn't matter. And it didn't, because it would have been too late by then anyway. The point is, we thought we had played it safe, and met a standard that had held us in good stead in the past. Only, we were wrong.
The only reason I go into any detail at all on this point is that I know that we can't be the only couple in the world to find ourselves in this situation. Everyone knows, or ought to know, that birth control fails. Most of the pregnancies of Darwin's coworkers resulted from birth control failures, and even something so drastic as a tubal ligation isn't always infallible. (I've just wasted a stupid amount of time trying to track down the British news story I read last week about the woman who became pregnant 13 years after having her tubes tied.) But I think that there's a secular perception that charting one's fertility is so fraught with pitfalls or unreliable that if you get pregnant it's really your own fault. Don't you know what causes that?
And yet, what this comes down to is a control failure. We thought we had the next few years mapped out, and that we were really in charge. As life-changing events go, we're lucky. Instead of losing a job or dealing with some terrible disease or injury, we're getting a baby who will bless and enrich us for the rest of our lives. And we've received a fairly clarion signal that we're not really as in control of our future and our fertility as we thought. And if any well-meaning person asks me, "So, are you done yet?", I can pretty honestly say (through politely gritted teeth), "I don't really know." Because it seems that in the end, it's not totally my call. Life happens.
ADDENDUM: I should add, now that I'm not sleepless and nauseous at 3 AM, that writing out what we've been chewing on for the last five weeks privately is very therapeutic. For various reasons, including some early miscarriage worries, we were reluctant to talk about the pregnancy earlier, which perhaps is good, because we don't have a month's worth of "What the hell!" posts archived. It's very refreshing to get all this off my chest, and now I have to go contemplate getting this cup of tea off my stomach. Toodles.
Isaac of Nineveh for Lent XXXV
1 hour ago