One year ago today - at 5 p.m. to be exact - I went into labor with the baby I'd wanted and for whom I'd been waiting and praying for the past two and a half years. As I sat in the armchair and timed my contractions, I couldn't believe the time was really here. That I was really going to have a little girl. That I was about to meet my last baby.
Amazing to think it almost didn't happen.
When Henry was born, Marc and I felt so completed by this little guy. He was the final link in our chain. The final piece of the circle. We felt done, even though we'd barely begun. Looking back, Marc would feel our family was perfect whether we had one kid or five, as long as everyone was happy and healthy, we could afford them, and he could still get in some quality time with the computer. I, on the other hand, was out of my mind with post-partum depression. I truly think my initial feelings of "Yup! This is it!" were triggered by my feelings of freefalling toward something bad. I didn't want to risk it again. I didn't want to go through it again. I didn't want to feel so isolated and afraid of a baby. I didn't want to lose my mind or my fragile grip on reality and my marriage. There were many days when I called Marc early in the afternoon, begging him to come home because I couldn't handle Henry. I truly have no memory of that. In my mind, I can remember bits and pieces of my time with Henry at home, but only after I began treatment with antidepressants. For seven months before that, nothing. Literally.
As I got healthier and got a stronger grasp on things, life got better. I thoroughly enjoyed Henry and our days together, the friends we made and the activities we did. Things were wonderful, and I started to feel this pang in my heart that it would never happen again. That I'd had one shot at being mommy to a small baby and I'd blown it. And I started to want another, though I was so scared of losing my mind again that I didn't say anything. I was too afraid to say it out loud because then the expectations would start, the questions from people wondering if we'd have another. Those began anyway around the time Henry was two and it was just assumed we'd have another, and by the time Henry was three the question came from everywhere. I couldn't handle it. I couldn't ignore the fact that I wanted another, but I couldn't ignore the fact that I was scared to death to try again.
Marc and I talked about it a lot and decided that we'd give it a try, we'd leave it up to God, and if we got pregnant we'd watch my reaction very, very closely. With Dr Zoloft on speed dial just in case. But one year went by, then another, and I didn't get pregnant. I was heartbroken and crushed, feeling that God knew I couldn't handle another. Henry was almost four, people were asking all the time about a second baby, and I had reached the end.
Marc and I said we'd try until Henry was four and then that would be it. The Christmas before Henry's fourth birthday I sent out what was apparently construed as a depressive missive, stating that we were done having babies, trying to get pregnant wasn't working, please don't ask us about it anymore. In my mind, it was self-preservation, though I think most people were shocked at the lack of a "happy yearly bragfest"-type letter. Not my style even on a good year, people.
Henry turned four in February and that was it. No pregnancy. We were done. But two weeks later I found out I was pregnant and that changed everything. We were shocked and ecstatic!! Until ten days later when we lost the baby. I was crushed beyond crushed. I was livid that God would give me a baby right on the deadline and then snatch it away. And I knew, I knew from the moment I peed on the stick that I would have a girl, and the loss of her felt deeply personal.
And then, a few weeks later, I had this epiphany: God wasn't being mean. God wasn't telling me it was over. God was telling me there was a baby for me, but now wasn't the right time. But I couldn't stop trying because of some stupid deadline I'd enforced.
Crazy or not, I believed it and that's all that mattered. We decided to move, we got our house ready, and the day it went on the market in July I found out I was again pregnant. And this time it stuck.
Nine months of puking later, Harper Lillan was born. And I truly felt, from the first moment I saw her, that she's my girl. She's the one who came into my life on the day I was meant to be done trying. She was trying to tell me that she would be mine, but I had to give her her own time and space. The way she looked at me - and the way she still looks at me - she looks right into me. I know that sounds like a bunch of existential hooey, but I know my girl. She was meant to be mine all along.
Everything I went through to have her, it all matters. It was all meant to be. SHE was meant to be. Like I tell Harper every day, I love this girl BIG. And I know there is something amazing for her to do on this earth, even if it's just to show me it was all worth it and I don't need to be afraid anymore.