Monday, July 19, 2010

Expecting the unexpected...

It seems that the news of a new baby coming to this world is somewhat commonplace within my social circle. Either someone is just ready to deliver, or they have just found out the biggest news of their lives. Sometimes, the reaction is joyful, but for some, in the early days of this confirmed news, their minds cannot accept what their bodies have been telling them for weeks.

It is hard for someone who doesn't have children and desperately wants one to hear of such reaction. I used to be one of those women who seemed to be the most infertile amongst the most fertile. While I was trying to conceive Matthew, everyone around me seemed to be pregnant. Some wailed that it had taken so long (2 months of old fashioned trying) and others bemoaned that it was an accident. In my un-mothered heart, I could not understand how a life was an accident.

I remember the sinking feeling I got at seeing a positive sign on the pregnancy test when I found out I was pregnant with Matthew. I knew my life was changing. I had no idea in how many ways.

I became a mother of one beautiful baby boy. And I understood the challenges of keeping up with my own personal hygiene and appearance, holding down a demanding job, keeping a home functional, of paying bills with a teething infant wailing in the background.

I understood how hard it was.

And then I had two little boys. The second one had a mind of his own and a temperament to match. I now juggled two crying babies, a household, a full time job and other parental responsibilities. No easy task.

But my heart yearned for another little bundle. It made it easier for us that Andrew turned four a couple of days after Joshua was born. But it was still difficult to now juggle a third child in this already busy, full life.

I would imagine that getting the news that you are pregnant when you are not mentally or emotionally ready to welcome a (or another) child into your life is frightening. I understand the anxiety, the fear, and then equally as powerful, the guilt for feeling this way. For how you must seem to others. For how you fear your unborn child will be affected by this powerful, but fleeting bundle of emotions, exponentially compounded by the hormones coursing through your body. Of admitting it to yourself and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror.

Like anything, it takes time and patience. Time to get your mind around this new person, how he or she will affect your life, time to adjust your way of thinking and feeling. Patience to not beat yourself up, to forgive yourself for a totally understandable set of emotions, for the awkwardness within your own heart and body.

To let go of the guilt. Because guilt is useless.

A long time ago, I learned to expect the unexpected (a la Welcome Back, Kotter...). There is no use in worrying about something that may or may not happen. There is no sense in draining whatever happiness you may have at the moment by creating imagined circumstances.

Motherhood awards us with the ability to complete impossible tasks, under dire circumstances, in the midst of every obstacle imaginable. It toughens us, makes us pliable, sentimental, decisive, combative when necessary, lenient, mistaken, right: a paradox of our former selves.

In expecting the unexpected, you understand that there are a lot of things that lie outside our scope of control. Life is a series of unexpected's that happen. We make the best of them.

We laugh in spite of them.

We cry because of them.

But sometimes, those unexpected's bring the most joy.

And for my dear mother in law, who celebrates 68 years on this Earth and makes it look easy, a very Happy Birthday to you!


  1. I think you're totally right that having kids teaches you to expect the unexpected. I think it's the most important lesson I've learned in a long, long time. (Though I don't want to learn the lesson with a third. Two is about as much as I can handle!)

  2. Kids do prepare you to surrender control of all things. My girls have taught me that I just have to throw up my hands sometimes and let it happen the way it's going to happen. Especially when you have more than one kid!


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