Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

Some Thoughts About Pregnancy.

*Warning* Much like my post about post-baby care, this is pretty candid and I talk a lot about my body and say the words boobs and vagina. If you can’t handle it, can’t laugh about it, or are scared to read it, that’s okay. I’ll catch you on the next post.

Pregnancy does some weird things to a woman. You cry about the stupidest things. You get pissed off for absolutely no reason. You eat like a teenage boy. And, you want to sleep basically all the time. Also, you feel may feel sick, and unknowing people might think you’re having a bit too much vino pretty frequently. Your boobs grow to the size of small cantaloupes, and while that’s awesome for small-chested people like myself, it’s also terrible because they hurt like the dickens. Sure I actually have some cleavage for the first time in my life, but oh my gosh, don’t ever hug me straight on. Seriously though.

So everyone is aware that when a woman has a baby, her body changes pretty drastically. Well, I am on my fifth pregnancy now (you can read about my other kiddos here, here, here, and here), and each time I have gotten preggers, I show a little faster every time. This one is no exception. I am eleven weeks along, and looking more like somewhere between 17-20. I remember being pregnant with Judah and being so excited when I thought I had “popped.” Whatever dude. That “pop” has got nothing on this one.

Judah at 10 weeks along

Judah at 10 weeks along

Current baby at 9 weeks along.

Current baby at 9 weeks along.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my body image for many years. Appearance, whether purposeful or not, was placed in high value in my home growing up. I’m sure some of it was my own insecurities, but I felt a lot of pressure to look a certain way all the time. This has carried into my adult life, and I work hard every day to get over myself, and to make sure my son grows up comfortable in his own skin. This pregnancy is no exception. Instead of trying to squeeze into certain pants or hide my growing belly, this time around I am delighted with every facet of the growing life inside me. When you lose multiple babies, it doesn’t matter any more. Every day there is evidence of a healthy and growing baby is a celebration. Sure, my hips widened basically the moment I got pregnant, but whatever. My body is doing it’s thing, and baby is doing theirs, and I’m just here to enjoy the ride.

Doctors, midwives, home births, vaccinations, no vaccinations, etc, etc. There are a million things you’re faced with when pregnant. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Do whatever you know is best for you and your child. I don’t care if you decide to have your baby in the middle of the forest, cavewoman style, wrapped in a sheep-skin. If that’s how you feel most relaxed and comfortable, more power to you. For me, I prefer a doctor, a hospital, and most likely an epidural, unless I get to the point where that’s not possible. I was induced with Judah and have felt SO much guilt with that for a long time. I was wrapped up in the pressures of a natural birth and letting the baby come on his own, yada yada. Well, when you’re two days short of 42 weeks, doing 200-plus jumping jacks a day (OMG, that must have been kind of hilarious for my husband to see), and that baby isn’t budging, I think you’ve done all you can to get things progressing naturally. At that point, it becomes about the safety of your child and yourself. I also want to enjoy the birth of my child, and for me, that means an epidural. Now, I’m not one to request one after the first contraction. For me, it’s important to feel some of that pain. Not only to experience the relief, but also to appreciate what’s going on. But I’m not going to feel bad for getting one this time, so long as my labor allows. I don’t care what anyone else says. I also think that if you can do it naturally and feel the best about that, more power to you. And, if you have to have a c-section, you still had a delivery. You’re still fierce. You’re still awesome and powerful, and deserve every bit of credit as that other mom who went cold turkey out in the woods and caught her baby with her bare hands. Either way ladies, let’s all be on each other’s team. WE FREAKING GREW A BABY INSIDE OUR BODIES FOR ALMOST A YEAR AND THEN PUSHED THAT HUMAN BEING THROUGH OUR VAGINAS. Okay? Okay. Phew.

Doctors…I got a good one this time around. It takes a certain type of person to make you feel comfortable enough to joke around while you’re spread eagle on an exam table. It’s a rare quality, I tell ya. You find one of those, consider yourself lucky. So thanks Dr. S for your ability to make me laugh in the MOST awkward situation ever.

And as for this pregnancy, I’m just in it to enjoy it. I’ve never felt more excited, more nervous, and more secure with a pregnancy in my life. I know that’s kind of contradictory, but…hormones.  Having kids is the biggest privilege we are entrusted with. We don’t know how long we will be able to parent these little lives, so I’m just excited for my fifth little baby, and the opportunity to fully love this life for however long or short I get to.

A Life Lost

I’ve had this post saved in my drafts for a few days now, I think it’s about time to share.

Some may think this, and several of my other posts for that matter, are “too much for the internet.” Sure, I think a lot of people over-share via social media, and I will openly admit, I am one of them. Who cares what I had for lunch? No one. Do I snap a photo and post it to my Instagram (bethanyruthalcock) feed anyway? Of course I do! That being said, I think there are certain topics of conversation people avoid because it’s too personal and usually kept private.  One example being my post on my struggle with an eating disorder. However, I think there is healing and empowerment in talking about some of these “personal and private” matters. Everyone was given a story, and stories are meant to be shared.

A month ago, I had a miscarriage.

It’s weird. It’s sad. It makes me feel guilty.

Last month, I had the suspicion that I was pregnant. I had many of the same early indicators that I did with Judah. I was super tired, my hormones were going crazy, and I wanted to eat everything we had in the house, all day long. And, I was late for my monthly visitor. When she finally came, it was different, and I knew it. I trust my instincts a lot when it comes to my body, I really believe God designed our bodies to tell us what we need and don’t need. He’s pretty smart like that. I knew something was off.

I called Kyle and told him I thought I was experiencing a miscarriage, and he immediately came home from work. I told him not to, that I’d be fine, but he knows me, and I’m so glad he didn’t listen to my stubbornness. Just having him around was such a comfort.

I called my doctor and spoke with a nurse who ordered up some lab work and later that week, my results confirmed that I did in fact experience a miscarriage.

I had what is known as a “chemical miscarriage,” meaning I wasn’t far along, and in fact, many women have these and don’t even know. But, I knew, and it hurt.

No, I didn’t get to the point of celebrating that positive pregnancy test, of going to the doctor and hearing the heartbeat, or seeing that little, growing body, and then later being told it was gone. For those of you that have, I simply cannot imagine that pain. For risk of causing upheaval, to me, a woman becomes a mother from the moment of conception, whether she knows it or not. When you have a miscarriage, you lose a child, no matter how early they are in their development.

On July 12, I lost a child.

I still feel the weight of that loss, and I feel so guilty. I know that it’s silly to feel guilty about something that I cannot control. But I still feel it. I didn’t even concretely know I was pregnant, and I feel guilty that that little life didn’t receive the proper love and grief it was due. I feel guilty when I look over at my little boy playing so well by himself. I feel guilty that my body failed in some way and that I lost his little brother or sister–his playmate.

I feel guilty. I feel sad. I feel loss. And that’s okay.

Just because I didn’t know for sure that I was pregnant before it happened doesn’t make it any less of a daily struggle. In fact, earlier this week, I broke down crying while getting dressed for the day. I’m crying right now, as I compose this post. A loss is a loss, no matter what stage.

Going through this has made me realize how precious these little lives our bodies carry are. I am so grateful for my son. I am so grateful that he defied the odds he was given after his first ultrasound. I’m so grateful for his smile, his endless energy, his laughs, and the joy he brings to Kyle and I.

This one is at the top of that list of many questions I have to ask the Big Man when that glorious day comes that I get to meet him. Why does it happen? Why does it always seem like the women and men who would make the best parents have to struggle when it comes to so easily to others? Why do you create something only to take it away so quickly? I guess I just have to chalk this one up to His infinite wisdom and my minuscule, earthly brain that couldn’t possibly understand the complexities of His creation.

All I know is it’s hard. It makes me stop and think. But I’m working through it, and sharing this with you was a big step in that process. So thanks for listening and helping me heal.

Now I’m off to play with this gem and give him a couple extra squeezes.

photo