2021 · parenting · pregnancy and post-partum

12 years later

Blame it on time gone by, blame it on stress, blame it on whatever you like – much of my first pregnancy is a distant memory and a blur. Unexpected and unplanned, being 21 and pregnant was no walk in the park. While there’s a lot I don’t remember, I do remember asking my mom to tell my dad. I remember feeling ashamed, knowing I had no business having a baby when I could barely take care of myself.

The birth of my son was the best thing that ever happened to me, despite my early pregnancy being overwhelmingly unpleasant. My first pregnancy was fraught with shame, worry, fear, and sadness and his birth brought pride, love, and joy.

My second pregnancy brings complex emotions, too, but they’re overwhelmingly positive.

Oh, and, by the way: I’m pregnant!

In a lot of ways, it feels like I’m a first-timer: It’s been twelve heckin’ years. With my first pregnancy, sharing the news was a necessity – I knew I needed the support – but this time around, it was hard to contain my joy and excitement. After months of trying, hoping, tracking, peeing on sticks, and months of sadness and disappointment, that positive test was electrifying. So electrifying that, in true Ashley fashion, I peed on several additional sticks over the following two weeks because I needed to be reassured that I wasn’t just dreaming. Our dream had come true.

I forgot how quickly body changes happen and how whacky hormones can be. I forgot the way your heart stops for a second when the doppler doesn’t immediately capture the heartbeat, and the release of breath as you hear it’s horse-gallop bloop-bloop come through. I forgot the way it feels to suddenly not feel like you’re in your own body.

At four months pregnant, I forgot what it was like to have a bump.

I forgot how devastating it is to not be able to comfortably lie on my stomach when I’m tired and it feels like every other position is totally uncomfortable.

I forgot how magical it is to remember that there’s a baby inside me. If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel that again and I can’t describe the joy and gratitude I have for this.

I have definitely forgotten what it was like to be exhausted, recovering from birth, and entirely responsible for a new human’s life.

What I haven’t forgotten – what I’ll never forget – is how it felt when F was born. How my world was made infinitely bigger and smaller when I heard his cry for the first time. How the pain and energy and exhaustion was instantly worth it.

Sometimes, I worry that so much time has passed there’s no way I can do it all again. I’m leaning into this now, realizing that it’s never too late to learn (or relearn). Realizing that this pregnancy and this baby are new and unique – that my past experience as a mother will help guide me, even if it doesn’t look the exact same.

Twelve years is a long time.

I’ve changed a lot. My life has changed, unrecognizably. I have my own house. A career. The stability I wished for 12 years ago. The life experience. The physical and mental strength I lacked then.

(Though, honestly, I could sure go for the 12 years younger body right now as I sit here with randomly aching parts.)

It’s hard to imagine that, in less than five months, I’m going back to square one – to life with a newborn – while simultaneously entering the real pre-teen years with my first.

Let the adventure begin.

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