“A year from now, we’ll have a little baby swimming with us," I said to my husband as we floated side by side with our 4 four year old daughter in a hotel pool.
It was a few days after Christmas and the three of us were on holiday in a coastal town full of tourists. I was 3 months pregnant with our second baby and to anyone outside looking in, we had wonderful things ahead of us. But we were actually worried sick. It had been a tough year for our family after a missed miscarriage a few months earlier, which had been especially devastating because I had suffered through 6 weeks of severe morning sickness, only to find out it had all been for nothing.
Five months later, and at the time of our holiday, I was pregnant (and sick) again. I was in my first trimester and had struggled through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with nausea. We were too anxious to announce our pregnancy to anyone, including our relatives who were on holiday with us, and must have known our secret based on how sick I was, but were too polite to say anything
But on Boxing Day I woke up feeling well enough to be able to join my husband and daughter at the pool. Feeling sick was a constant reminder that I was pregnant and the high emotional stakes of what would happen if something went wrong. But on this particular day, I let myself think of what would happen if everything turned out to be perfectly fine.
That was when I said to my husband that next summer, there would be 4 of us swimming together. This momentary rise of optimism over my anxiety was the first time I let myself get excited about the pregnancy. I chatted to my husband about how we would juggle 2 kids in the pool, baby names, what we thought the gender was and how cute it would be to have a chubby infant again.
Of course it wore off. During the next few months of my pregnancy anxiety followed me everywhere. To every ultrasound, every obstetrician appointment, and every time my baby went for more than a couple of hours without kicking me. At 20 weeks (8 weeks after the first trimester ended when most people feel is a safe time to tell people) when we announced the pregnancy, I felt like I was playing with fire. My anxiety gradually melted away every time I saw the heartbeat and with every milestone, though.
Surprisingly, when my planned Caesarean section became an emergency Caesarean, I was nervous about surgery but not scared about losing her. By that time I believe she wanted to meet us as much as we wanted to meet her.
We didn't actually make it back the same town the following summer, it was 2 years later. When we did, we booked at the same hotel and swam in the pool again. Our 2 year old was laughing at being tossed up into the air by her Dad, while our 7 year old swam on her own without floaties. We were happy but hiding another secret - I was pregnant again and I had lost another baby between our second daughter being born and this pregnancy.
We were hoping this would be our last pregnancy and that we would be able to have 1 more baby, and end the anxiety-ridden journey we had been on for just under a decade. I kept my emotions in check as best I could so the 4 of us could enjoy our little summer holiday, but the irony of being back at the same pool (with the same fears and the same smell of chlorine hanging in the air), was not lost on me.
Fortunately our little boy was born safely, as early as he could be, one day before 37 weeks. It took 7 pregnancies and 7 years to get our 3 children, but the first 6 months of our little boy's life sped by. We took him for his first swim on Christmas Day in another, different pool (at my sister in law's house), and for the first time in a few summers, it felt like no one was missing. We are complete.