Updated: Feb 4
Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had . . . and dealing with fears you never know existed. Linda Wooten
I was blessed and challenged with birthing and mothering three healthy boys by the time I was twenty-seven years old. I am not going to lie, each time I got pregnant I secretly hoped and spoke to my belly praying for a daughter. As the pregnancies kept coming one after the other, I knew the chances of that were growing slimmer. So, I was a proud and active young mother of three boys within 5 years of each other.
I settled into that idea and lived a life of boys with legos strewn around my home, action figures sitting at the kitchen table, fart jokes and bathroom humor, and constant repetition of directions. As I would watch my nieces quietly playing imaginary tea parties sitting for a solid hour entertaining themselves, I was darting by chasing after one or more of my three boys up to some kind of mischief or dangerous curiosity. They simultaneously exhausted me and filled me with delight with their energy and unconditional love for Mama. They were my right-hand men and fiercely protective of me in and out of my home. I was committed to being a Mama of boys and knew nothing of the world of raising daughters other than my own experience of being female.
Then our world turned upside down in more ways than one. I became pregnant in the fall of 2014. At this point we had three grown boys at home, we were starting to come to some stability and neutrality in our marriage, and were just finally the parents that could leave our kids at home and have the very rare and although uncomfortable, date night. I looked toward the possibility of this new potential in our marriage and stage of life. There are some definite perks to being parents of grown-ish kids.
The news was unexpected and delivered by an ER doctor. I was admitted to the ER when my body started to wage an unexplainable war with me and my feet suddenly inflated like elephant trunks. I was expecting to be told the answer to my unexplainable pain, but instead, I was taken into this state of shock by the news of a fourth pregnancy. My ex greeted the news with extreme enthusiasm. In his mind the more children we had, the better, he loved babies. The challenge for me after baby number three was that I realized these babies become children and notice and experience the environment around them. They absorb the unhealthy vibes and then become people who have to manage that knowledge as they navigate our home and their own relationships. Having another child is a commitment and requires a lot of work mentally, emotionally, and physically. Most of which would end up in my charge. It would change the life I was finally getting some footing and comfort in drastically.
Despite feeling some hope growing in the 13th year of our marriage, I knew the reality that this moment in our dynamic of connection and communication would soon fade and return back to the norms of fragility and inconsistency we always had. So when the doctors came in and shared the news, my response was the antithesis of my husband’s. It’s a blessing to have children, and I know it’s a privilege that I can have them with ease and good health. But the reality of what I was just told was complicated for me to process. I was paralyzed with fear of a future where I brought another child into this precarious family dynamic. Was I up to the task of doing this all again and with this man whom I can never fully trust to count on as emotional and mental support? I spent several weeks coming to grips with being pregnant again and what sacrifices I would have to make to be a good mother to another human being from birth to adulthood. I am ashamed to say it, but I was angry about the pregnancy for almost three weeks.
I began to realize I had no choice but to own what God placed in my life and embrace motherhood the fourth time around. Once I made that shift, I was again a glowing happy pregnant mom excited for our new addition. I shifted my mindset and started to plan with caution, since it was still early, for baby number 4 and our expanding family. My spirits were so good that I even planned a trip to visit my old college girlfriend and her husband in Portland and throughout we talked about the baby and the pregnancy. I reflected on my past pregnancies and noted that this one seemed so different. I secretly hope that it might be the sign of a girl. I ate healthily, walked, hiked, and enjoyed sharing this time with a close friend.
A few weeks after returning home I had my ten-week pregnancy appointment with a new obstetrician. It was the one where they do an internal sonogram. I can recall each one for the boys. They take a long tool wrapped in a condom, smeared with lube, and awkwardly insert it in your body. Then you hear your baby’s heartbeat and see the minuscule flickering of a human forming inside you. This was a new doctor’s office and they had a seat for me to sit in instead of lay down, with a clear large screen in front to visually capture it all. I walked in elated to be at this stage and finally feel at ease and prepared to have this baby. Until it all changed and the karmic world made a rude appearance in my life once again.
The exam started as usual, but within a few moments, the doctor’s demeanor told me this was not what I was expecting. The sonogram showed an eight week old non-viable human inside my body with no heartbeat. I had lost the baby and held a lifeless fetus inside my body for two weeks as I went about with life as usual believing I was having a baby in eight months. My body went limp and my mind blank. How could this be? I mourned the loss, but something about the visual of a lifeless being inside my womb for two weeks shattered me. Following the DNC procedure to remove the baby I laid in bed for weeks
My heart was broken in a way I could not wrap my head around. All I could think was that I brought this upon myself because I rejected a blessing instead of embraced a life. My selfishness and fear had caused this. Karma from my energy to my womb reaped the results I deserved. All around me women I knew were struggling to have children of their own and here I was frustrated and upset by a pregnancy. I struggled to forgive myself for a long time. Having three healthy children to come home to and hold helped me to see the blessings I had to focus on and appreciate instead of dwell on the loss. The healing came as it always does, but my mind had forever been shifted in the way I viewed motherhood and my children.
In the two years to follow, we moved from our nuclear family home of five in Anne Arundel to an extended family home with my in-laws in the outskirts of Northern Virginia. My boys grew and life moved on. In January of 2016, I was given a second chance by God to do and be better. I found out I was pregnant again. This time it was traditional: my boobs are sore, I feel nauseous so I should probably pee on the stick and check, type of trajectory. Although it had been time and I healed from our loss knowing that I still had my three boys, I was thrown back into the mental space of my loss a few years before. I cautiously held onto the news before I shared it with others, and I had a heightened sense of awareness of my body and any changes in fear of another potential loss.
I spent a good amount of the pregnancy throwing up or being nauseous leading to barely gaining 10 pounds from start to finish. On Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 after a scheduled cesarean section, I held my fourth child and my first and only daughter in my arms. The heavens smiled on me and gave me another chance to accept the gifts I have been given and to raise a woman who would take the world by storm. Each day I look at her I know that in her short four-year lifetime she has taught and continues to teach me infinite wisdom about the world and spirituality.
Kaiya (Hopi for wisdom beyond her years)
Rumana (My mother’s name)
Hai ( my mother-in-law’s Vietnamese name)
The unexpected gift I never thought I would receive and am eternally grateful for.