Never before has that felt more true than the moment – many weeks ago now – when I stood stunned and breathless in the bookstore bathroom staring at a positive pregnancy test.
My heart started to beat rapidly and I wondered if I might hyperventilate, right there, right then.
It was the faintest of lines, but I knew, without a doubt, that it was indeed positive.
I was pregnant with my fourth baby in the year that I would be turning 41.
From the moment my husband and I met and fell in love, we were certain of one thing: we wanted a big, bustling, full-of-love-and-wildness family. Eventually, we settled on a vision of four kids.
But after each child arrived, I was in no hurry to get pregnant again. My hands – and my heart – always seemed full enough at the moment. And, truth be told, sometimes I felt desperate to get my body stronger and firmer before I began to swell. Again.
By the time my third baby arrived, it seemed that we were destined to be a family of five. It was something that I thought about often – trying to separate the grieving that comes with the end of a significant chapter in a woman’s life from the desire – and readiness – to devote myself to another human being.
The consensus of those around me, while empathizing with this tug, seemed to be that moving forward with three was the wisest choice. Sometimes, it was said directly. Other times, it was implied.
And I, too, came to embrace this. I am so fortunate to have my three children. And somehow turning 40 felt as if I had closed the door, and was moving on…
So it was a surprise – a miscalculation – that led to me standing in that bathroom, trying to catch my fleeting breath.
I’d moved on.
All the plans that I’d made – that we’d made – now revolved around being a family of five. More than anything, I began to sniff the freedom that comes from no longer having a baby or toddler who needs constant supervision and attention.
Let it be said, this news rocked my world.
As I emerged from that bathroom, with the test tucked into my purse, I made my way to the little toy store next door.
I didn’t know where to go. I might’ve been hiding.
And then, like a sign from above, my dear friend walked through those doors; this friend who almost never makes her way to that particular store. I pulled her aside and, with tears suddenly flooding my eyes, I shared the news.
Her eyes, in turn, were full of empathy and joy and love. I don’t remember her words, except that she reassured me that I could still do all the things I wanted to do.
I’d just have a new baby along for the ride.
As the days and weeks passed, I moved through perhaps every emotion possible. I cried. I woke up in the middle of the night panicked. I worried about my age and the implications on both of our health. And I imagined myself with a baby, once again, strapped to my supple belly. And leaky breasts.
But I also felt this incredible gratitude – and, when I quieted my thinking and worrying brain for a moment – I felt as if I’d been handed a winning lottery ticket.
Because when I think of each of my children, I simply can’t imagine my life without that one particular person in it. And now, nestled within my womb, is that fourth child that I dreamed up long ago – before all-the-good-and-practical-reasons caused me to shelve that dream.
And while this pregnancy has unearthed a lot of questions regarding where we see ourselves down the road – and I find myself sitting with a lot of uncertainty and not-knowing – this is it.
I am fully in this – with all of my joyful, even if unsettled, heart.
And while it requires me to let go (once again) of where I thought I’d be at 41, it opens up a new adventure for me.
I have no idea yet how it will all play out. Of course, we never really do.
Which makes it all the more exciting, don’t you think?