Caroline’s pregnancy was a surprise to say the least. After all, we already had four children. Three of them at once. Plus, at 41, neither one of us are exactly spring chickens anymore. And raising babies (not to mention carrying babies) is a young person’s game.
That’s not to say that we’re not excited. We are. It’s just that a surprise pregnancy can be and often is experienced a lot differently than a planned pregnancy. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to chronicle the different stages of this pregnancy. Because, surely we’re not the only ones in this boat: you know, the kiddie-laden, kinda old and unexpectedly pregnant boat? Maybe someone can learn from our experiences. Today, I outline the first phase of our adventure — the Initial Phase.
Phase One: The Initial Phase:
- Shock: The first stage of the Initial Phase is shock. Confirming a pregnancy is always shocking. Even if it was planned. I mean, every parent has been there, right? That out-of-body feeling you get when you see the pregnancy test result? It’s, well, shocking. But, if you’re specifically not expecting, the shock quickly leads to the second stage of the Initial Phase.
- Denial: I believe my exact words were “There’s no f@$*ing way.” So what, aside from profanity, does the denial stage encompass? Approximately four boxes of pregnancy tests and a neurotic debate on whether or not that super-faint “second line” is actually a line or some strange, random and perfectly straight occurrence of soft pink light.
- Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda: Once the denial ends, the shock returns. But only for a second. Because shortly thereafter, you’ll start to beat the ever-living crap out of yourself via the ol’ shoulda, coulda, woulda. Accordingly, Caroline and I revisited some of our prior decisions. For example, days before Caroline’s triplet-induced C-section, I encouraged her to get her tubes tied. “You know,” I had said, “since the hood’ll be up, you may as well let the mechanic multi-task.” Her response? ”You’re a jackass.” Touché. Caroline obviously wasn’t up for getting her tubes tied, and it turns out that this jackass is scared of the knife. So we took solace in the fact that it was unlikely, if not impossible, for Caroline to get pregnant. After all, she had never before been able to conceive without the help of hormone treatments. Looking back, it’s hard not to second guess our flippancy. Eventually, however, we had to let go of the past and move on to the next stage.
- Mourning: Now, I don’t mean to get all Sigmund Freud on you, but for Caroline and me to get our minds right, it was essential that we allow ourselves time to mourn the loss of the life we thought was right around the corner. So we allotted ourselves 72 hours to do just that. See, the triplets had just turned three. And our lives were just starting to get “normal” again. But the beach trips that were about to become less difficult? Sorry. Push those back a half-decade or so. The camping trips with our entire family? Same deal. Half-decade. Oh, and a bigger tent, if that’s even possible. The money we were just starting to save thanks to no longer needing help? Who needs money anyway? So for three days, we mourned. And boy, did it help. Because it led us to the final stage of the Initial Phase.
- Acceptance: Upon acceptance, our tears of frustration had finally turned into tears of joy. And shortly into this stage, Caroline and I sat nervously next to each other, my legs crossed and hers in stirrups. As I saw for the very first time, the pitter-patter of our little baby’s heart via the grayscale image on the GE monitor, mine grew warm with love. After the ultrasound, Caroline and I raced like little kids into the parking lot, both wearing smiles which only got bigger as we squeezed each other tight right next to our car.
You know what I think now as I look back now? I think that on some level, Caroline and I were way more open to having another baby than either of us had ever realized. But that’s not to suggest that it’s been smooth sailing since the Initial Phase. It hasn’t been. Which you’ll learn should you read the outline for the next phase. I promise to post it soon.