On Saturday I learned that someone I care for deeply is pregnant. She is due a few weeks after me. In almost the same breath with which she told me that she is pregnant, she said "It is not going to happen." She has two beautiful children, but since the second was born she has had three miscarriages, in her words, "each worse than the one before". A loss at 8 weeks. A loss at 12 weeks- with a cancer scare attached. And her most recent loss at 20 weeks. She too gave up trying only to find out shortly thereafter that she is pregnant again. And she greets this news with understandable anxiety. I'd even go so far as to say that she greets this news with terror. And I understand. I don't understand from the inside as I have not suffered the loss of a pregnancy. But... I do know that after my first insemination cycle failed, long time ago now, I pretty quickly said "Oh my God. What will I do if ever I miscarry?" Just not conceiving month after month after month was a rehearsal of hope and grief, over and over and over again. But still, I do not compare it to the devastation of miscarriage or still birth.
I have already blogged here about some of the anxiety or fear I have felt in this pregnancy. When my symptoms backed off at seven weeks I became very nervous that I was no longer pregnant, or that there had been some mistake, that, perhaps, I had never actually been pregnant. It is still hard to believe from time to time that I really am pregnant. My friend's daughter asked me this past weekend "How long have you been pregnant, Sarah?" "Oh, about eight weeks." "You don't LOOK pregnant." I agreed. I do not. And I explained why.
But on the plane to Chicago, and then in the hours of sitting and listening at this training event in St. Louis I have been knitting a baby blanket, for our baby. And Rebecca, my seminary roommate, has been sitting one table over and she has been knitting an adorable sweater (she went with orange and yellow, by the way) for our baby. And yes it is early. And yes, anything could yet happen. But... by the grace of God we will welcome a child into the world in December, and soon thereafter I will wrap him or her in a blanket knit by me, with hope knit into every row. And I will dress that baby in the adorable sweater I'm now seeing in the works and take a picture to send to Indiana, and I will know the hope that is represented in that sweater, a sweater that will be complete before the first trimester is.
Little by little people with me at this training event are finding out that I am pregnant. I'm nibbling on crackers constantly. I look a bit like death warmed over (I think). I was having a hard time staying awake yesterday afternoon. I'm avoiding caffeine and alcohol. And I'm knitting a baby blanket. Sometimes these factors trigger a question or sometimes I just feel like offering an explanation. Yesterday evening one of the participants admired the blanket I'm making and asked if it was for the same baby for whom Rebecca is knitting. I confirmed that indeed it is and told her just who that baby is. I also told her that it is early in the pregnancy. She asked "How early?" And when I said "Nearly nine weeks," she winced. "Ooh, that is early. Just get to 12 weeks before you tell anyone."
I understand that philosophy. I do. But... despite my anxious tendencies, despite all the reasons I have to be suspicious of hope, despite all the vulnerability of this season of our lives... I'm actually hopeful. I'm actually joyful. I'm actually grateful. I know that it is not a given that I would be able to feel this way so soon. And I know that it is perhaps dangerous to feel this way so soon. But I have never had this experience before. And though I do not know what the outcome will be, I am having this experience now. And if I am able to let hope conquer anxiety, that is a gift and a privilege that I want to gratefully receive.