StandUpGirl woman with hand under chin looks in distance

I did things in a rather conventional order.I graduated from university, got married and hoped for children.None came.So my husband and I adopted a son, fell in love and longed for more children.I took fertility drugs and had two daughters. My arms, heart and plate were full, and the world seemed just about perfect.I helped with because I knew my son’s life could have been ended before his birth, depriving my world of joy.I wanted other moms to know, before it was too late, that their children are amazing, too.But every time I saw the tag line ‘Been There Girls Speak Out’, I cringed.I had no right to speak from my ordered, charmed little world.

But I’m ‘There’ now.Somehow, a very unexpected baby number four is growing inside me.After a week of that sick feeling, I finally took a test, and panicked when the second line appeared.I cried, and not with joy. “No!” I thought.“I can’t do this again.I can’t spend weeks vomiting, months exhausted, get stretch marks inside my stretch marks and go through the sleepless nights of feedings and pacing the halls.I can’t do this and be the mom and wife I want to be.I’m too old to do this all again! I can’t add a newborn to our busy schedule.I can’t bear the thought of two more years of diapers, and adding more to our already growing bills.With three kids talking at the same time, all the time, I can’t hear myself think.I can’t listen to a fourth one, too.I was just about to go ‘discover’ myself again.But with another baby, that is never going to happen.By the time I get around to discovering myself, I won’t even exist.I DIDN’T CHOOSE this and I want OUT”

Since I first heard of abortion, I have thought it evil.But in the days after my discovery, when we were keeping the secret, I understood why women do it.A little whisper told me that it would be so easy, no one would ever know, and I could have my life back the way I’d planned it.Lies, but very attractive ones. I dismissed that voice and told myself that I’d feel better, even fall in love with this baby, when I had an ultrasound. I went to the doctor with pounding heart and artificially high blood pressure, secretly hoping I’d miscarried.But there was a nine-week-old baby on the screen, heart fluttering away. And my emotions did absolutely nothing.I spent the next two months on the couch. Sick, hormonal and exhausted, I felt like a terrible mother to the children I wanted, thanks to the child I didn’t want.

I’m at 19 weeks now, and strangers are starting to look twice at my midsection.I see the question in their eyes ‘Is she fat, or pregnant?’I don’t mind so much on the rare occasion when I’m alone, but I live in a part of the world where strangers often question my unusual collection of three children, sometimes with hostility.When I see their heads bob one…two…three times, and then linger on my belly, I feel ashamed.And tired, knowing that the scrutiny is going to get worse, and some people will always feel the need to comment.

So I’ve been there now.I, a planner, am unexpectedly pregnant.And I hope you’ll listen while I remind myself where else I’ve been, and where I’m going again.

The flutters and popcorn twangs I feel right now will soon be kissable feet, and hands with fingernails like the year’s first snowflakes.And I’ll have to do as much kissing as possible, because so very soon those feet will be grubby and smellable from some distance…carrying someone who means the world to me. The tiny mouth currently sucking in amniotic fluid as breathing practice will soon be crying.And yes, I’ll lose more sleep.But then the cooing and babbling will start, and I will marvel at the gurgling sounds only my baby can make. And I’ll make a delighted fool of myself babbling back.Then come the words, life-altering in their beauty.How could I survive without my current doses of “Mommy, you are my sunshine!” delivered with kisses?Yes, the stretch marks are inevitable, as are the bags under the eyes and creeping wrinkles.But those will only get worse, baby number four or not. But my kids point to billboards of beautiful women and say “Mommy’s up there!” Soon I’ll have someone else to cheer me with inaccurate but lovely eyesight.The bills will get paid, this baby will learn to use the toilet, just like everyone else did, and yes, there will even be moments of silence and peace mixed in with the chaos.I’ll learn again that the opinions of people I don’t love don’t matter.And if I ever get around to discovering myself, I’ll be a richer person for being Mom to this child, too.

Will you silence the whispers that lie to you? I didn’t choose, this time, to be where I am.But I know where I’m going and trust me, it is a great place.Come with me?