We're expecting another little person. 20 months after the first one. We are overjoyed, but oh my, the reactions we've gotten.
But this isn't a post about how the only appropriate thing to say a pregnant woman is a heartfelt congratulations.
We hoped and planned for this baby and we've been so happy since we found out a few months ago. But I've been feeling guilty anyway. Guilty that I don't feel bewildered ecstasy ever time I think about the little life growing inside of me. With my first baby, all I could think about was that little person. 24 hours a day. I sang and talked to her constantly.
Now I'm in my second pregnancy with an energetic toddler underfoot at all times. To give an example of my mental state this time: Today around 4pm at the grocery, I looked down at my belly and noticed I looked particularly round. It was at this time that I remembered that I'm 15 weeks pregnant. How does one forget she is pregnant?
I've been worried so much that my divided attention means I love this baby less or that I won't be able to give my kids the attention they deserve. My heart doesn't soar for this baby constantly like it did when my daughter was in utero. I'm too exhausted to soar. I've been wondering when that moment would hit where I felt in love with this child and think of him (or her) as more than just my daughter's little sibling, but a piece of my own heart.
Last week I went in for a check up at the beginning of my second trimester. I had already heard the heartbeat and seen the first little tadpole ultrasound in my first trimester, so this visit was fairly routine. My husband I had refused early genetic testing since we're not high risk and abortion isn't an option for us. This midwife reviewed with me that if the baby showed abnormalities at the 20 week ultrasound, I could opt for genetic testing at that time even though I don't want to terminate (man, I dislike that word) but so I could prepare for the possibility of a kid with disabilities. It's a pretty routine conversation between health care providers and pregnant women, one I always dismiss by throwing around words like Catholic so they know I'm keeping my baby regardless.
The midwife moved the doppler along my belly and I held my breath for one doubtful moment waiting for that heartbeat. She found my heartbeat, moved a little to the left. Faintly, we heard the rapid heartbeat of the baby and she chased it with the doppler, commenting on how active the baby was already. I breathed a sigh of relief that the baby was still there, still healthy.
The midwife slid the wand a little to the right. The doppler found a perfect spot where we could equally and clearly hear my strong, solid heartbeat and the baby's rapid one, beating together in harmony as one heartbeat.
And then I fell in love with this baby.
If the midwife would have had the same conversation about genetic testing with me after this experience, I would have responded differently. Being Catholic isn't my reason for keeping my baby. My initial answer shows that being prolife is a religious matter, which it isn't. It's a people matter. I would choose this life over my own because I could no sooner carve this little person out of my body than I could carve out my own heart.
I'm always baffled when people talk about aborting a child to save the life of a mother. How is this saving her life? A woman can't live without her heart.