My doula once told me this.
“You will miss being pregnant. You will hold your baby in your arms and cry.”
I was rounding the final stretch of my first pregnancy. It was the end of August and the heat added to the discomfort of it all. I had hemorrhoids that brought on a whole new level of pain. I was done. I did not believe her.
Within a couple days of giving birth to my daughter, I got phantom kicks. I looked down at my deflated belly, once round and full of life, and cried. I missed being pregnant. It was an odd feeling. I was absolutely over the moon to have my baby in my arms. At the same time, I missed her in me. Every evening, at dinner, it would hit me. I would sit, at the table, and cry. I would look at her sleeping in her swing and a lump would grow in my throat. The combination of hormones and this idea of no longer being pregnant hit hard. As she got bigger, I packed her tiny clothes away. The bassinet was moved to the basement. I folded my maternity clothes and longed to experience this all over again. The idea of being pregnant again was something to look forward to. I also knew that life was unpredictable. She could very much be my last. (She wasn’t. I went on to have three more children.)
I knew my fourth child would be my last. It was bittersweet, knowing each week was one week closer to the very end. We discussed a tubal early in my pregnancy. And so, when I held my last born, on my chest, my journey was ended. My OB made it permanent. I would never be pregnant again. I didn’t have time to process this right away. I spent the following days in special care nursery with my son, focusing on bringing his sugars up. We left the hospital and two days later, I went in for eye surgery as my retina had detached the week before. It was a chaotic time. The recovery for eye surgery was to lay, for a majority of the day, for the following days. Christmas was five days after my surgery. My mom and sister were in town to help. Then one of my children got scarlet fever. I just didn’t have the time to process everything.
There was a moment of quiet one day. I was home with Emmett. He was sleeping in my arms. And it hit me, like a punch in the gut. I sobbed. I sobbed until I couldn’t breathe. Everything in me ached. I felt as though I had swallowed rocks. My heart physically hurt. I felt numb. I was grieving. I was grieving an experience I would never have again. I was grieving the loss of this chapter of my life.
I got pregnant with my first in November of 2009. Since, I had been pregnant or nursing with no break. And while I was (and still am) nursing, there would be no more anticipation of positive pregnancy tests, appointments, ultrasounds, kicks and hiccups, a big growing belly, and all that I loved about pregnancy. A part of my life, I had grown to love, was over. All these special moments, I had grown to love, would a part of the past.
There is an intimacy a mother has with her unborn baby. I cannot put it into words. One must experience it to understand. There is this rush of excitement, before you give birth. Meeting your baby for the first time is a moment I could live over and over. I loved these feelings. They aren’t like your everyday feelings. They are feelings that went away and will never return.
Perhaps, it’s the finality. Finality in anything can be scary. Maybe it was this idea of losing my identity. Being pregnant on and off became my life. It was what I knew.
My baby is not even 18 months. I can say my feelings are less intense. I don’t cry about it. I have accepted this chapter is closed. I sometimes look at pregnant women and the nostalgia can be consuming. There is some sadness in the shrinking collection of baby clothes and empty spaces where baby items sat. I suppose I will always miss this. I have a lot to look forward to as I watch my four children grow but there will always be a special place in my heart for my moments with them in my womb.