Those tiny, everyday movements bring me so much joy. There is palpable companionship and instantaneous love in carrying and feeling life.
I know those kicks can be painful at times but mostly, they make me feel safe. There is absolute comfort in the consistent kicks of a new life.
Devastatingly, as I wrote of a friend’s loss this week, another friend lost her baby at full term. I am reeling from the prevalence of what seem like normal, healthy pregnancies turning shockingly wrong.
The difference between this pregnancy and my first is my awareness of the fragility of life. I feel so vulnerable. I no longer have the luxury of naivete like I did with my first pregnancy. Instead, I feel a million reminders, a million signs indicating that I NEED to enjoy each moment I get with my pregnancy because it is all so fleeting.
My heart aches for mothers who lose their children. Even even as I type that sentence I feel guilty, guilty that I don’t know their explicit heartache and as much as I feel bad, I do not know the depths of their grief. On dark days, I let myself give into the fear that I could lose this baby, or our daughter. I panic that I’ll be asked to endure the seemingly unbearable and I won’t survive the heartbreak.
I don’t know the outcome of this pregnancy. I have my obvious optimistic hopes but they could be dashed. The reality is that I do not have control. Perhaps it will all go horribly wrong, perhaps I will join the awful “I lost a child” club or perhaps, for unforeseen reasons, this will be my last pregnancy. I do not know. I do not have control. I do not know how many moments I will get but I’m trying to stifle fear and embrace hope.
Today feels like one of those dark days, so I’m clinging to baby kicks. I need to memorize them. I need to cherish them.
Today, I’m also clinging to the memory that each time we read stories or sing songs, my daughter sits in my lap while her baby sister spiritedly kicks my belly in what I like to think is a greeting to her sister and a recognition of proximity and love. I’m clinging to the moment when I cry happy tears, rocking my two girls, and my daughter asks if I’m sad. I’m clinging to my response that “no, I’m not sad, I’m just so happy to be your mom.” I’m clinging to my daughter’s, “I missed yous” when she wakes up from naps and the sound of her voice as she chases bubbles, laughing unabashedly as the grass tickles her bare feet and she yells, “Hey bubbles, wait for me and sissy boo!”
But mainly, I’m clinging to baby kicks and the thought of them really meeting someday, these sisters, these two girls I love more than life. That thought makes the perpetual fear and anxiety seem worthwhile.
And someday, when life truly is hard and seemingly unbearable, I’ll conjure up the memory of my girls, one strewn cozily across my lap, the other nestled in my tummy, reminding me that life is made up of baby kicks and lullabies and there are still many, happy, simple moments you do get and luckily, you get to hold onto them forever.