The opening scene from the musical Wicked is a song called “Thank Goodness” where Galinda the Good Witch is addressing a crowd of her supporters and fans. If you know the score, you know what I’m talking about. She has a seemingly perfect fiancé and is lavished with attention from both the public at large and her peers and teachers at school, the dear old Shiz. There’s a part of this song that I have always loved, where Galinda realizes that everything she currently has, she has at a price, and she sings:
“That’s why, I couldn’t be happier.
No I couldn’t be happier.
Though it is I admit the tiniest bit unlike I anticipated.
But I couldn’t be happier.
Simply, couldn’t be happier… Well, not simply.
‘Cause getting your dreams is strange but it seems a little, well, complicated.
There’s a kind of a sort of… cost.
There’s a couple of things get… lost.
There are bridges you cross you didn’t even know you’ve crossed until you’ve crossed.
And if that joy, that thrill,
Doesn’t thrill like you think it will… still.
With this perfect finale the cheers and the ballyhoo,
Who couldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier.
Because happy is what happens, when all your dreams come true.
Well, isn’t it?”
Last June, I lost a second baby to miscarriage. Five days later I lost my grandfather to brain cancer that went undiagnosed after spreading from his lungs. I told my husband I felt like there was an elephant laying on top of me. I went to Target and walked up and down the aisles like a zombie buying anything I thought would take my mind someplace else. I went weekly, sometimes twice weekly, to the OBGYN to make sure my pregnancy hormone levels were back to 0, and to start what I knew would be endless fertility testing. I got a period. At some point I had sex with my husband. I vaguely remembered thinking I should have a period again…
But I didn’t. Or did I? Was it time again? Why did I feel so, just, gross? I didn’t know. I had a pregnancy test left over from a few months prior, so I took it. I thought to myself while I waited, “You are so dumb. You tried for eight months to do this, only to lose the baby. You tested at 0 for pregnancy hormones three weeks ago. There is no actual way that you are pregnant. Your body hates you and you’re a barren 29 year old toad who cannot make baked goods (because exact directions) or human life. You are tormenting yourself and Nathan is going to come home and find this negative test in the trash and he is going to take all the sharp objects out of the house and ask you if you need round the clock care because you have lost your entire mind.”
And then, the test was positive.
And I rubbed my eyes and looked at it again and backed away from it like it was a bomb and then looked again from a distance like it was going to jump off the sink and eat me. I don’t remember how I told Nathan. I just remember laying down that night with my OBGYN’s voice echoing in my head, “Ashley, I am going to hope for the best here. I really am. But I need you to know that your body likely cannot sustain another pregnancy right now, this soon after such a loss, and you’re probably not going to carry this pregnancy much longer. It’s only been a few weeks since you tested negative from your last failed pregnancy.”
As you read this, dear reader, I am sitting in the hospital waiting to be discharged from my 38 week, three day long pregnancy from Hell that I so desperately wanted to keep all the while so desperately wanting my baby out of my body.
I am not a sweet glowing happy pregnant lady. I am a perpetually sick, tired, sore, swamp demon of a person who hates everyone and everything. Walk down pregnancy memory lane with me for a minute if you will…
I was 10 weeks pregnant at my wedding, which resulted in a lot of throwing up, napping, and my husband getting me a cheeseburger and fries from down the street and being late to said wedding. I slept every afternoon of my honeymoon and was in bed every night by 9pm. (My husband is a very lucky man and had a very sexy and wild honeymoon, in case you were wondering. Picture trying to seduce a hippo after it has been taken down with a tranquilizer dart and that was our first 10 days of wedded bliss. #blessed).
I threw up every day for 18.5 weeks. I threw up in my front yard. I tried to throw up out the car window once and it blew back and hit my children while we were on the way to school. I threw up in the school parking lot at morning drop-off in front of practically everyone I know there and wrote a mass email explaining that “no I wasn’t drunk or on drugs I’m just pregnant and sorry if your kid saw me yack this morning… or had to step over my pile of vomit.”
I had migraines that lasted for weeks at a time, although when not pregnant I’ve never had so much as a small headache. I had contractions and light spotting every day, prompting a two-week pelvic/bed rest type scenario at 17 weeks. I got a bladder infection that grew resistant to antibiotics and hung around for five weeks at nine months pregnant. At one point, I was on 11 pills a day for various pregnancy induced crazy-town things happening in my body. Maddox, at nearly seven years old, sometimes became the primary care giver for his little brother, because there were some days I thought I was actually going to die — not joking — before my husband came home from work… If you know me in “real life” you know that I have complained throughout this entire pregnancy. And that’s, I guess, where I am going with all of this.
Oh my gosh, I have been so vile and mean and nasty and whiny about sweet little Finn Friend when this time last year I would have stabbed someone in the eyeball if it would have meant I could get pregnant as a result. I know the struggle of seeing other women waddling around and thinking that everyone was getting pregnant “at me” and crying when I got home because I was so jealous. But I have also been pregnant (counting my miscarriage) for 11 months this calendar year.
Being able to create and sustain human life inside my body is absolutely incredible. And I am so thankful, I really am. But I am also ready to be back to normal again. I am ready to meet my sweet third baby boy, if for no other reason than to finally convince Maddox that even though he looks just like his dad (my ex), there is literally a 0% chance this baby will look like his dad too… we are going to have a lot to talk about in the ‘where babies come from’ department one day.
I find myself feeling a lot of mixed up feelings of sadness and guilt — that maybe I shouldn’t complain or maybe I should suffer in silence, but for me, pregnancy is just that — suffering. All my pregnancies have been hard. They were hard at 22/23 and 24/25. It has been so much harder at 29/30, with two wild boys to parent and a husband who works 12-14 hour work days on the regular. Add to that my doctor telling me from week one on that based on my past history I wouldn’t carry past 34-36 weeks, and then being pregnant a week and two days longer than I ever have been before.
Please exit stage left, Finn Friend.
Pregnancy is so many different experiences for so many different women. Hormones are crazy and the physical pain and discomfort is real. (Like… not sure what a ’round ligament’ even is but someone can have all of mine because they hurt.) If there was loss before, there is an ever-present voice in the back of your head telling you that something could go wrong, you could lose this baby too, even if all your tests, blood work, and ultrasounds have come back normal. I have felt like the biggest chump when I have had to miss something of Maddox’s or Walker’s and they have said “It’s okay mommy, baby is making it hard. We know.”
Just like it’s never okay to shame someone about their size and weight, or if they work in home/outside the home/stay at home, I really don’t think it’s okay to tell a miserable pregnant woman that “this is what you wanted” or to “suck it up it’s only nine months” or “well, some people can’t get pregnant so you need to remember that you’re lucky.” I get it. I get it from every angle. I have been the one longing for pregnancy, but I am also entitled to feel how I really feel; which is ready to not be pregnant. Just like Galinda, I got what I wanted, but it came with a cost, which has been my physical well-being.
And yes, I felt super lucky a few days ago when I thought my water broke but really I just got stuck in my leggings and peed in my bathroom floor.
The Knoxville Moms Blog would like to congratulate Ashley on the birth of her healthy and gorgeous baby boy who made his way out just a day before this post was published! Mom and baby are healthy and she is so happy she beat April the Giraffe.