Here’s a sneak peak at my Sunday column:
I shipped three boxes of maternity clothes to my best friend this week.
It was a sad day, packing it all up, even though I knew it was going to a good home. Philip and I have had four pregnancies and two babies – Jack, 4, and Viv, 2. We’re grateful for our family and love being parents. But sometimes I wish we had met years before we did, and had chosen to start a family right away.
I didn’t know I would miscarry twice before Jack was born. I didn’t know all the problems I would have with my pregnancies, prompting one perinatologist to suggest we stop trying after Viv was born. Like many women, I thought I had all the time in the world, that everything would be fine.
And for the most part, it was. We are a perfectly average, joyful, cranky, tired family of four. Coming to terms with only having two children was difficult for me. It seemed less difficult for Philip, but that might just be the Minnesotan reserve in him, his tendency to be the stoic Midwesterner. He worried about my health, a future baby’s health, our financial health. All the things you realistically should consider. It’s the way we’ve always been together: He’s the head, I’m the heart. Or, as he puts it, I’m the engine, and he’s the brakes. We’re perfect together.
And so is our family.
But I still reminisced and allowed myself a few moments of emotion as I packed up jeans with a stretchy panel for a waist, empire-waist shirts that I thought would never fit – and which ended up being too small in the end. A black empire-waist dress that I lived in the summer I was pregnant with Viv. And the god-awful faded brown sweat pants I wore on bedrest with both kids, when I had basically given up any style and given in to the couch and milkshakes.
I was not the kind of woman who loved being pregnant. I didn’t glow. I had great fingernails and thick hair, but that was about it. But still, I was grateful for two healthy babies.
And I know Laurie, who I have been friends with for 33 years, since age 5, would appreciate these clothes. She had her own troubles starting a family – including losing a baby while I was pregnant with Jack. Originally we were due within a week of each other, and celebrated not only decades of friendship but also our luck to be pregnant at the same time, and have children close in age, just like we are. We looked ahead and saw a future bright with love and laughter.
Life doesn’t always work out that way. And a while later, Laurie wasn’t pregnant anymore, and I felt immense guilt over my healthy baby. She is a photographer and came to visit when Jack was about five months old. I don’t know how she did it—taking photos of my son, all the while knowing that she should have a baby about the same age. And didn’t. It breaks my heart to think of the emotions she must have gone through on that visit, and then my heart swells again, thinking of her kindness in coming out, to celebrate a moment with me that must have been so painful for her. We didn’t know it at the time, but she was pregnant on that visit. That pregnancy ended in miscarriage a few weeks later.
Once again, we were able to share our grief, to share our stories of miscarriage and loss. To be open and raw with one another.
A friendship like ours is a gift. She swears we are soul mates, and I believe her.
She did get pregnant, and has a beautiful daughter who just turned 3. And now she’s expecting again – due in August. I feel like I am able to celebrate more babies, bigger families, through her this year. She was there for me in my time of joy, and I want to be there for her, in hers.
So it was fun this week to get a text from her: “Thanks for the boxes of diapers!”
I had shipped the maternity clothes in diaper boxes, of course. And one wine case. Come on, I’m a mom. I have a lot of diapers and wine. It’s the mom stash.
“Wait, there were three boxes,” I texted back. “I hope someone didn’t steal what they thought was a case of wine off your porch. Won’t they be disappointed!”
I hope the third box finds her. And I hope everything I sent fits – the striped shirt I loved so much, the hideous maternity bathing suit I finally broke down and bought. The summer skirts and shorts and the outrageously expensive jeans I bought so I wouldn’t feel so dumpy.
Philip and I aren’t having any more children. And I’m slowly coming around to being OK with that. I don’t ever want to be ungrateful for what we have, to ever take Jack and Viv for granted.
But for a while this summer, I plan to fully enjoy every moment of my very best friend’s pregnancy – and all the joy and hope that a new baby brings.