I'm pregnant. Let this be a warning to all NFP users .... it is possible to follow the rules, abstain almost completely, and still get pregnant. I know all birth control methods can fail. However, none of them seem to fail quite so much as NFP.
I can't even tell you how bad it was when we first found out. I didn't sleep for two nights, panicking about it. The past almost-two years have been a long, slow slog into the light, and it was like being shoved right back to the beginning and having my head held under the water. But, well, no choice really but to find some way to make peace with it. I'm sleeping at night again. I'm figuring out ways to make things better this time.
The due date is January 20th, which means Miriam will be just shy of two and a half. That's the longest space we've had between kids, by two months. Yay, NFP! You bought me exactly two months more time than I would have had otherwise! That was totally worth the massive struggles of dealing with you! *dripping sarcasm*
I wasn't able to spend much time coming to terms with this news, because immediately after finding out, we had a trip to Wisconsin to see John's mother graduate at last from college, and then to Chicago to see his sister, visiting from the convent. A whirlwind trip involving seven days, 2,000 miles, two different hotel rooms, one guest bedroom for the five of us, three children, and a social event with strangers every single day is going to be difficult at the best of times.
Though, surprisingly, it was probably the smoothest trip we've had so far. We shelled out for a car DVD player so they could watch The Land Before Time over and over again the whole way there. Marko was in bliss. Michael kept demanding attention and food. Miriam slept part of the way and only fussed at the very end.
But I had a really hard time coping with my Awful Secret while surrounded by all those people. I wanted to just hide in the bedroom the whole time. Still, there were encouraging moments: the girl at the graduation party who told me all she'd ever wanted in life was a little sister, John and I picking names during our long drive, and the encouragement of my mother-in-law when we finally told her the news. I find it very difficult to be congratulated for something I didn't accomplish and didn't want, but it was nice to have her sympathizing with how awful pregnancy is but at the same time saying "Oh, it won't be bad though! My fourth was no extra work!"
The kids were pretty good through everything, but painfully shy. None of them would speak to anybody but us, and Miriam cried if anyone even looked at her. I felt like this was somehow my fault, that they must have absorbed my social awkwardness or else I had failed to teach them properly. But on the other hand, very few people actually made any real effort to get on the kids' level and make friends, and the people who did try actually did get some interaction out of them.
Of course, there is no earthly way we can fit four children into a two-bedroom, 900-square-foot house, not without getting rid of things, like my sanity for instance. We didn't intend to move till John finished his town council term, but there's a lot going on we didn't plan. So we've decided to put our house on the market. We spent the remainder of John's time off after the trip scrubbing everything and throwing stuff into the attic. We've met with a realtor and she thinks it will hopefully be snapped up fast, since there's not much in town in its price range.
I'm feeling very nostalgic. I know we never planned to stay here long, but I've never been able to help putting down roots. And it really is a darling little house despite being tiny and in poor repair. The view out the back has always calmed me, and I've put so much work into the garden in the front. So many memories here. (And so much crayon to scrub off the walls!)
We have to move within the town limits, which narrows down our options a lot, but there are some very nice houses in our price range. Since John's been working at the library, we have a lot more leeway in what we can afford, and over five years we've gotten plenty of equity in this house, to go toward a down payment. So I am not terribly worried about that end of things.
And I know dealing with kids will be so much easier when they have separate bedrooms, a playroom of their own, and places to be that aren't all up in my grill. I dream of a dishwasher, a living room that can be kept clean-ish by not also being the playroom, and more than one bathroom. Life will be better. I have to keep repeating this.
Physically, this pregnancy has not been bad so far, probably due to still nursing Miriam lots. (I know last time that really reduced my worst symptoms.) So instead of morning sickness, I'm just having indigestion when I eat .... well, most anything, it seems, but I'm still working out what will and won't go down well. Drinking a little apple cider vinegar in water seems to help. The sad part is that, just as with Miriam, chocolate is a definite no. I had a little bar of the super-dark stuff the other day and it felt like it was trying to claw its way back out. Not worth it.
My back still doesn't hurt at all (knock on wood). I think I must have gotten it into better shape this time. I actually feel LESS tired and lethargic than I did two months ago -- which tells me, yes, something WAS wrong with me up to now. Perhaps anemia or something, who knows. I'm not going to question it -- I have energy now, and I need it, considering I'm working on the house all the time. Keeping the house clean so people can look at it while also having kids is no joke.
Most days I feel just fine emotionally. Some days I'm oddly touchy or weepy. There have been some days that have been a yawning pit of despair and terror. I'm afraid to even write about it for fear that thinking about it will bring it back. It's hard to say how much of that is "depression" per se and how much is just not wanting to be doing this right now. But, again, I actually feel kind of better, most of the time, than I did before so I don't feel inclined to complain.
Overall, as first trimester goes, I am so far getting off easy. And, of course, this whole process is temporary.
Thinking too much about the future, right now, is kind of borrowing trouble. It occurred to me, early on, that the coward dies a thousand deaths and a brave man but one; and in the same way, if I don't obsess over it now, I should only have to undergo labor once. There will only be one postpartum, and better still, I only have to experience one day of that at any given moment. I have, in the past couple of years, gotten really, really good at coping through things I don't want to be doing or that aren't going well. I did it before, which is how I know I don't want to do it again, but it's also how I know I can.
I do think about the future a little, though. I think that if the baby is a girl, Miriam will have a sister close in age, like I always wished I'd had. Maybe they'll all get along well together, anyway. (I worry about this because my four younger siblings get on like a four-sided brawl. But you never know.)
I think that Miriam is very independent, as almost-two-year-olds go, and she'll probably adapt to a younger sibling better than Michael did. She is really, compared to either of her brothers, a very agreeable kid who doesn't get into trouble a whole lot. I think having them for constant entertainment helps.
And I think that I'll get a baby swing, because I'll have the space, and baby can nap in it, and I might actually get some moments when no one is on me. It could happen. Especially if I have a dishwasher and don't have to use all that precious time washing dishes.
My birthday is coming up. I will be thirty. I was really excited for this, seeing the new decade as a whole new chapter in my life, a chapter where I stop being "constant nursing and baby-holding mom" and become "homeschooling and fun outings mom," where I do more baking and crafts, and I let the kids take out the legos because everyone knows not to eat them, and my garden can finally get through a summer without collapsing from neglect, and so on. With the hope that by forty I would be pretty much free to get a second degree or start a second career or publish my novels or whatever I wanted to do.
But now, I'm seeing a long tunnel of two years or so before I get even back to where I am now. I wonder if I will ever publish anything, if I will build the loom I dream of building, if I'll ever have anything to show for having been alive. A firm belief in an afterlife would be really helpful for dealing with all this, but I don't have that so it feels like years just flushed away.
On the other hand (she said brightly) it's not like I don't like motherhood. I do, and many of my hobbies are compatible with it, so long as I'm not too exhausted to do them. And if there's a limited time to be alive in, all the more reason not to spend the next two or ten years waiting for the next thing before I'm allowed to be happy, but trying to ground myself in the present moment and find joy in it.
How about some more pictures from the trip to cheer us all up?
Well, keep me in your thoughts, or wish me luck, or whatever.
I swore up and down they wouldn't get in the pool because they've never done it before, and Miriam hadn't willingly gotten wet in six months, but what do you know, they all got in and loved it!
Well, keep me in your thoughts, or wish me luck, or whatever.