Pregnant Again, for the First Time
by Jaime Robinson
My heart was racing and my hands were sweaty as I entered the OB office this past March. I noticed that my normally calm husband was fidgeting in his seat next to me as he grabbed my hand and we started answering the nurse’s questions and she typed them into her computer. We had found out about 6 weeks earlier that we were expecting our first child together, and both of us were anxious for this appointment for many reasons. Starting a family was something we had both been wanting and finally felt ready to start trying, and POOF! Here we were, almost immediately at our first prenatal appointment. You should have seen the look on my husband’s face the day I told him I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. His face lit up, we hugged, I cried (if you know me, that’s not surprising), and we immediately started sharing our hopes and dreams for our little one. I remember sitting back and cherishing that moment, feeling so blessed to have a man who loves me and already loves this new life growing inside of me. It felt strange, and yet so natural, to feel the love we instantly had for our little family.
The nurse was extremely kind and very down to earth as she ran through her list of questions while logging in our medical histories. I was getting more and more anxious as the questions kept coming, dreading the one I knew she was going to ask. And before I knew it, she asked it.
“Is this your first pregnancy?”
My stomach dropped to my feet and I felt my face turn at least 3 different shades of red. I’d run through a script in my mind for weeks on how I would answer that question, but everything I had rehearsed just flew out of my mind as I sat there. I hurriedly spit out something to the effect of, “No, I had a son 6 years ago and placed him for adoption. But this is our first pregnancy,” and then smiled at my husband and squeezed his hand. The words hurt as I said them. It may seem like I had just dropped a bomb of “too much information” on this poor nurse, but I’ve learned that not mentioning the adoption when people ask if I have any other children always ends up with very uncomfortable and awkward follow up questions. It’s completely normal for people to make small talk and chit chat, especially about kids, but the more I let others assume my child is with me, the more I have to lie when they ask me things like, “Oh, is he excited for the new baby?” or “What school does he go to?” I hoped that my brief explanation on my son’s whereabouts would help us all avoid these questions, especially since we are going to be spending the next 7 months getting to know this lady and the Doctor. The last thing I need is to have them ask me about Big Brother while I’m in the delivery room.
As I looked back at the nurse, I hoped she would drop it and just document what I said. She didn’t, although I can’t really blame her. It’s not exactly a sentence that anyone lets pass by whenever I’m in a situation where I have to share it. I’m used to it, but I was more concerned about my husband and not wanting my previous experience without him to overshadow this moment for us. Although she did ask if I had contact with my son (and I do), thankfully, she kept it nice and light and only made a few comments about how “courageous and selfless” it was for me to make that choice. After a few “thank you’s” the conversation kept moving.
I placed my son for adoption in the Spring of 2009 and no matter how much time passes or how much contact I have with him and his Adoptive Parents, the ache I feel for him never leaves me. He’s always on my mind and in my heart. Even though I knew that being pregnant again was going to be emotional, I don’t think there’s any way I could have prepared myself for the feelings and reactions that would come to the surface during even the seemingly insignificant moments I’m experiencing now.
My first emotional breakdown came out of the blue one day early in this pregnancy as I sat wishing the weeks would pass more quickly so I could feel the baby move for the first time. I was immediately flooded with regret as I thought about my reaction to feeling my son move for the first time. I hated myself for not embracing that feeling back then, for not appreciating what I was experiencing with him. I felt like I had cheated him out of that moment and couldn’t stop the thoughts or the tears for about 20 minutes. I’m sure most people would chock it up to pregnancy hormones, but as a birthmother, I know all too well the lingering guilt that sneaks up when you least expect it. And it wasn’t the only time I’ve felt those pangs of regret. I feel them when I see my husband get excited over putting the crib together, at our first ultrasound appointment watching with pride as our little one punched back at the technician when she poked them to gather measurements, and even when I hear the excitement in my voice as I’m telling my friends and family about my pregnancy. I’ve experienced all these things before, but it feels like the first time, too. This time I have permission to feel happy, and it makes me sad that last time I didn’t.
There are people in my life that don’t know about my adoption experience and I find myself sitting and taking advice as they try and warn me about how painful childbirth will be, how post-partum feels, and how much I’ll miss my sleep after our little one comes home. While I nod and smile, I think to myself, “If you only knew…” If you only knew how much I’ve been wanting and craving to have my child with me, to be woken up by their cries at all hours of the night, to live on the edge of insanity due to sleep deprivation, and to finally embrace my deep and unending love for them, the way I’ve longed to for the past 6 ½ years. If you only knew.
It’s hard to experience all these things again, but also for the first time. And the thought of actually being able to leave the hospital and take my child home with me soon is something I’m trying to wrap my mind around. The only way I’ve ever left a maternity ward is alone. I only know how to love a child that deeply from a distance, and now I’m slowly learning how to let myself feel this love up close and personal. While I’m still learning to cope with these complex feelings, I’m also starting to let go of the past and embrace this new phase in my life. I can’t help but think that this journey is going to allow me to love both of my kids on a much deeper level. And maybe, just maybe, my little pangs of regret aren’t really regret at all. They might just be reminders of the special bond that I have with my son, and a love I can build on with this baby too.