Friday, June 4, 2010
So, we're having a baby.
So, here's a pregnancy post. Snazzy picture, eh? That's my daughter behind my right shoulder. We cropped some other young'uns out of the photo because I didn't think it would be ethical to put pictures of other people's kids on the www. I think this is the only belly shot I have so far - perhaps that's because most of the time I'm not anywhere near presentable? :)
I am around 21 weeks along with baby #9. I think it's safe to say that we're pretty excited. The kids are getting more excited now that I am wearing maternity clothes. We have an ultrasound this coming Tuesday, so hope to find out what gender we are having.
Some of you may remember that somewhere along the path of maternity adventure, I developed an Anti-E antigen in my bloodstream. (The Anti-E is kind of rare. There's no rhogam shot like there are for the more common rh factor issues. Most likely it happened at the birth of our seventh child, Ben, when the doctor pulled the placenta too soon.) What happens is that the baby's blood mixes with the mother's blood and the response is that the mother's blood becomes sensitized. The potential trouble lies in the possibility that the mother's blood begins to recognize the new baby's blood type as an "invader," and her immune system can actually begin to attack the baby's red blood cells. The trouble can range from "nothing," to severe jaundice which might precipitate an early delivery, to a blood transfusion en utero. The really good news is that there *are* things that can be done, and usually, if a mother is monitored the outcome is good.
Our 8th baby, Mariam, had absolutely no problems either during or after her birth. I remember at that time, the OB was absolutely panicked when she gave me the news, and we were sent to a fetal/maternal health specialist for blood work and high level ultrasounds. We got lots of pressure about my age and about how we had an option to abort, which we fumed about and then ignored, and our end result (thankfully) was a wonderfully healthy little girl who will be three in November.
This time around, my doctor is great. She is good at what she does, but she isn't very worried about the situation - we'll just do bloodwork once a month to monitor titer levels. She initially thought that this might be some sort of an anomoly, but since the tests came back positive this pregnancy as well, that theory was thrown out.
I have seen a fetal/maternal health specialist this time as well. She wasn't really concerned about the anti-E situation either. She gave me the usual high-level talk about the need for monitoring this pregnancy BECAUSE OF MY AGE (I'll be almost 42 when the baby arrives,) which I also promptly ignored. As my regular doctor (a family practitioner who delivers babies too) says, "they aren't taking into account that you have 8 healthy pregnancies and deliveries. You aren't a statistic!" So, we'll ignore all of the static about age and focus on a healthy baby and mama, too. :)
We didn't really intend to wait so long to tell everyone about this baby. At first, I was just waiting until Nick's trial was concluded. I felt we needed to focus on that. Then, it was early Spring and my parents need a lot of outdoor, physical-type help around their property. I knew that if I told them, my mother would worry and not let me help as much. Then, I saw the doctor and the blood-tests revealed I had the Anti-E thing again (and now we know I'll always have it...) and I put off telling the kids and everyone else, too, because I wanted to see what the fetal/maternal health specialist said. If something was very wrong, I wanted to be able to tell the kids from the very beginning and help prepare them. Well, the first ultrasound there was good, and we thought it was a good time to tell everyone. Then, Jeff fell sick with the staph infection. It just never seemed a good time, and so I knew I really needed to say something because soon it was going to become "hugely" obvious. :) It sort of sounds like "If you give a mouse a cookie...," doesn't it? :) Enough with the drama, already!
This is my ninth baby. There are parts of pregnancy that I grow weary with. Some people assume that having babies must be easy for me, since I've done it so much. Well, that's not true. There is physical suffering and most certainly a type of physical, mental, emotional sacrifice to have a child. I don't like morning sickness, varicose veins, nor getting so huge that I can't hold my children on my lap. I always dread labor, I'm not that good at it. I don't have babies to validate myself, nor to fulfill some never-ending desire, nor to create a perpetual group of people who need me. (Oh, please no, not that. Sometimes, I desire to not be needed so much!) It's not about some agenda nor about conquering the world, even though we do shamelessly conquer the playground. (We try to be benevolent dictators there.) I don't like the attention, neither from the incredulous medical staff that does not know me nor the stares we receive when we are out together. Parts of being a mother to a large family, particularly a pregnant mother of a large family, are very uncomfortable for me.
It's about...life. Life, with all of it's ups and downs, really is incredible. This is just how God has led us - my husband and me - over the years, His own personal plan for the Johnson family. It's about who He wanted to walk this earth at this time, in this family. It's not an easy life, not one that we think He calls everyone too, but it's a beautiful life and we are thankful. (And a little bit nuts.)
So, since I am 41, I no longer take a baby for granted. This might be the last pregnancy God has in mind for our family. He'll let us know. Right now, the little baby movements are very treasured and precious. The other children and their reaction to the baby are priceless. I'm journalling and remembering, especially the little ones and their awed expressions as they realize that mama is really growing something in there! :) (I don't think they really "get it" until the baby arrives and they can see and touch.) Even the difficult things are bearable when I remember that this time and this phase of life are fleeting.
Right now, I'm glad to be able to really focus on the joy of the journey, on the wonder of this new baby, on the here and now of the valid needs and love of every other kid, and on thankfulness that my husband is still here with us to meet this baby, rather than chafe at all of the other discomforts that life and pregnancy tends to bring. It's a very, very sweet life.