I gotta tell you… this whole pregnancy deal… maybe we went in too confident. After all, this ain’t our first rodeo. Caroline’s carrying our fifth child, for crying out loud. So, naturally, we kinda expected this to be a piece of cake. Especially given that the last pregnancy was with triplets. This one had to be relatively easy, we figured.
But, boy were we wrong. This pregnancy has been filled with fatigue, thyroid issues, stress and even mild depression. And don’t even get me started on the no-booze deal. Talk about adding insult to injury.
But here’s the kicker — that last paragraph? I wasn’t describing my wife. I was describing myself. Well, except for the thyroid issue.
That’s all Caroline’s. And we just discovered it. She was surprised by the legendary fatigue issues she encountered early in her pregnancy. Thanks to Ceridwen, however, we know that fatigue is to be expected during the first tri-mester. But once the placenta is formed and takes over the hormone-making process, that fatigue is supposed to go away. Caroline asked one of her nurses why this had not been the case.
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” the nurse answered.
But Caroline wouldn’t relent (nor should you if you find yourself in the same spot…) and insisted that they check for everything they could think of in her blood work. A week later? Caroline was diagnosed with a thyroid problem. It’s nothing serious and is easily remedied. But it certainly helped explain why she was more tired than ever before. And, in turn, that fatigue can help explain why this pregnancy is way harder than we had anticipated.
You know that saying “when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? (You may know the non-redneck version. But since we’re rednecks, we go with the multiple-aints-double-negative version.) It’s true. At least in our house.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I blame Caroline. I’d be miserable too if I were pregnant with an energy-draining thyroid issue. While contending with four kids. Three of whom constantly climbing on me like I was a knocked-up jungle jim.
Still, given that Caroline hasn’t been “happy”? The rest of us haven’t exactly been singing Kumbaya our-damn-selves. Our bleak winter, at times, has seemed endless. And you know what made it even longer, at least for me? I began to struggle with my energy level. Even when I picked up the exercise.
And my stress level has been through the roof. Just weeks before we were shocked to find out Caroline was pregnant, I sold my half of a small business to my former business partner. And while that was exactly what I wanted to happen, it still means that in addition to an unexpected, thyroid-affected pregnancy, I’m dealing with a garden-variety career transition. Not fun.
And about halfway through February, I realized something. I was mildly depressed. OH, and did I mention my inexplicable decision to pretty stop drinking? Yeah. The first few kids drove me to drink. But this fifth one? It’s made me feel as if I no longer have time to drink. Don’t get me wrong, I have the occasional beer, but, really and truly, aside from two or three a week, that’s it.
Listen, I’m not looking for a medal. Nor is Caroline for that matter. We’re not even looking for sympathy. But we are looking for a bit of understanding whenever people wonder why we’re not as giddy as a coupla kids in their late 20s expecting their first child.
We’re tired. One of us has a thyroid issue. We’re stressed. Even to the point where we’re mildly depressed about it. And we’re not even partaking in the occasional bender to blow off some much needed steam.
Even so, each and every night, my wife and I climb into bed (at an hour so early, I’d swear I was 70) and talk about the day that just went by. We inevitably wind up laughing at those three little people that wreak so much havoc in our lives. That Sammy, he’s a real monster, the way he bounces about and stutters when he’s excited. And Jack? He’s such a snuggler. Prefers to play alone. Loves his matchbox cars and jigsaw puzzles. And Kirby. The loquacious little girl whose bossiness is (just barely) on the right side of the charming/annoying line? She’s the glue that binds the three of them together, to be sure.
And, of course, our oldest, Alli. Our ally, Alli. The beautiful little girl with impossibly thick, sandy-blonde tresses. The one who somehow deals with all of our madness with a maturity that belies her 9 years.
Caroline and I shake our heads and marvel at it all. In spite of our challenges, we wonder what we did to deserve such beautiful, lively, chaotic, and perfectly imperfect kids. That’s when we stare together at her round tummy and finally feel the joy. The joy everyone assumes we’re feeling 24/7. That evasive and magical joy.
That’s when we experience the wonder.
What will he be like?
Shortly thereafter, the beautiful woman with the swollen belly will stretch as far as her compromised body will allow. And with the click of a switch on the light atop the bedside table, darkness is upon is.
And I curl up right next to the woman whom I love more today than I ever dreamed possible, more, even, than on the day I married her. The woman who’s carrying our fifth child.
Thank God, y’all. Thank God.
For every last bit of it.