I couldn’t get pregnant, or I couldn’t stay pregnant. I got pregnant twice and both ended in miscarriage. I was so sad and in so much pain. Physical pain. People don’t always talk about that part. I was frustrated and disappointed. Lots of standard emotions accompany the body’s craziness.
There’s more… One sucker-punch from that time was the way the miscarriages broke my husband’s heart. He never seemed to recover from the excitement and subsequent devastation. We decided to take a break from trying. Like a real break (yes, we kept loving on each other), but we decided to sell everything and move to China. Isn’t that what everyone does? Making that joint decision and taking the steps as a team was exactly what we needed. We were going to explore the world before we had children. It was a clever alternative plan.
I healed and looked forward to children in the future. He went on pause.
We loved China until we could love it no more. After 6 months of teaching, exploring, and resting, we both agreed that it was time to return to our life in the US. We wanted to start a family and we sensed that things had shifted.
We moved back.
I got pregnant within the first 6 months of our return. Our joint optimism splintered with the reality of the positive pregnancy test. I can still hear him saying, “It’s inconclusive” as he looked at it. He was faced with the same mountains and peaks of emotions as last time….and so was I.
I was excited to align with this new bun in my oven. I want to say it again, despite the past losses, I was excited. My husband, however, decided to stay numb. He said he couldn’t have his heart broken again. He said he’d be excited later; when the baby was actually here.
What? Was his heart broken more than mine? Would our acorn-sized baby sense his father’s withdrawal?
Throughout the nine months, he was his same loving self for the most part, but he wasn’t the doting man I knew from the first two pregnancies. He was subdued. Hesitant. Doubtful.
I can tell you that the patience and faith I had during that time, those gaps that filled my pregnancies, was not anything I’d like to relive. I was determined to stay engaged and enthusiastic, even if that meant my heart might implode with sadness at some point during my parenting journey. I wished I had someone else committed to those potential ups and downs, but we chose different paths.
A pivotal lesson developed for me during this time. I learned that staying calm, neutral, and level-headed are not the tools I want to employ when it comes to major life events. I want to be all in. I want to be happy and hopeful. I don’t care if I lose it all, I never wanted to lose my zest for living just because life is risky and can throw you off balance.
So let’s fast-forward to the happy ending on the other side of my husband’s pregnant pause. We had three kids. He was mild-mannered through all three pregnancies.
And then they were born.
From that point on, he was crazy, lose-your-mind in-love with them. Once he could hold them in his arms, all the energy shifted. From the moment our first son was born, he organized his work schedule around mine so that none of our children would ever be in childcare more than 2 days a week. He loved staying home with them while I was at work, even if that meant he had to walk out the door each day as I walked in.
I’m a thorough and loving mom, but there have been many (many!) times when he could easily win the “best parent” award. Our trying times during all five of those pregnancies were very revealing to me only in hindsight. I can see now how he shows up in our marriage and as a father. It’s never in wildly expressive and emotionally demonstrative, but he’s always there. Always ready to do the cooking, have a talk, play football, show the boys how to wipe without using half a roll of toilet paper, or drive them all over the world for school, practice, or just an aimless adventure. I see now that they never needed two hyper-happy parents (referring to myself here). What we all need is a balanced blend of love and leadership in our lives and that’s what my man has been patiently showing me all these years.