“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 four year old daughter in a hotel pool.
It was a few days after Christmas and the three of us were on holidays in a coastal town full of tourists. I was three 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 six 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. Thoughts did cross my mind about whether the lack of nausea could be a possible sign of miscarriage, but as we splashed around in the pool, the absence of the nausea lifted my spirits. 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 four 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 two 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 (eight 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. Like when we found out we were expecting a girl, and the first time I bought her a little pink outfit, and when I was given an official date for my Caesarean section.
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 went back to the same hotel this summer, and swam in the pool again, this time with our six month old in one arm and our five year old in the other, to complete the full circle we had been on to have our family. It seems strange that a busy, noisy pool, with the smell of chlorine hanging in the air, could be somewhere so significant, but it is to me.