Ever since I was young, one of my biggest plans was to meet my prince, fall madly in love and marry, then have at least half a dozen babies. I'd have my own Brady Bunch, complete with a set of boy/girl twins. We'd all live happily in a big house, get along great, and enjoy huge family holidays with lots of grandkids and pets.
Well, some of that went according to plan...
It took me about 28 years to finally meet the frog that would be my prince. I say frog, not as an insult, but my prince was disguised as someone I had known since second grade. We married at age 31, and after some debate over how long we would wait until we started "trying," we realized that starting our "bunch" was not going to be a piece of cake. Fourteen months, one miscarriage, and two rounds of Clomid later, we found ourselves seeking the help of a fertility doctor. My plan was not moving along accordingly, so I found someone to help it along.
Four months later, we were pregnant with twins...two boys. I was so thrilled to finally be pregnant! I couldn't wait to buy maternity clothes and have baby showers and listen to friends and strangers in stores gush about my pregnancy.
That plan changed, too. At twenty weeks, I found out I was in preterm labor and would have to spend the remainder of my pregnancy on bed rest.
Oh, and there was something wrong with one of the babies, too.
After fourteen and a half weeks sitting virtually alone in my house (thankfully not the hospital), our twins were born three hours and two minutes apart (so not in the plan either!). Baby "B," Slim, had a bilateral cleft lip and palate, that, while a challenge initially and something we will be dealing with the majority of his life, proved to be totally fixable and certainly not life-threatening.
My next plan included play dates with my friends and Gymboree classes and Kindermusik.
Then Hubby threw a wrench in that one by deciding it would be in his best interest to transfer residency programs and move us to New York. The babies were seven months old. It scared me on so many levels that went far beyond 9/11.
We were to be there only two years, and that part went as planned. I thought, even though two years was a long time to wait to have another baby (I had to get my half dozen and I was 34 and infertile after all), we would try again at the end of the residency and return home pregnant.
And then, surprise! I got pregnant with another boy when the twins were eleven months old! So there I was in New York with three babies under the age of two, "schlepping" them all over Long Island to Slim's plastic surgeon and ENT appointments.
We returned home to the Midwest after our two years out East, bought a beautiful home, had another miscarriage, and added another baby boy to our bunch. We were 37 with four little boys under the age of four. Hubby was done; I was not.
Then in April of 2009, something happened that no one ever has in her plans. One of our precious sons was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Sometime during his 14 month illness, my plan changed, my mind was changed for me. I would have to accept the fact that I would only have three sons, no daughters, and not six children as I had planned.
I suffered another miscarriage during this time, and while the two others had left me crying for days, I was confused about how I felt about this one. I desperately wanted another child, but what if having a new baby and our son's illness were too much for us to handle? I accepted it as the door closing on the "baby" chapter in my life and moved on to a new plan.
I gave away and sold almost all of my baby items and maternity clothes as I turned forty last spring. Forty was always my cut-off age -- no babies after forty. Too risky, and after what we had been through with our son, I couldn't handle any more heartache. No, my "babies" were all entering school, I was going to start writing with my extra free time, and Hubby and I were planning a trip to Hawaii for our ten year anniversary.
Well, guess what?
Yes, I am due in June with our fifth child, and I am scared to death. I am scared it will have a chromosomal abnormality or some other birth defect. I am scared it will be fine and then one day someone will tell us it has some awful condition just like our other son. I am scared Hubby and I will never get to Hawaii. I am scared it will be a girl, and I will have no idea how to raise her. I am scared it will be another boy!
The "plan" is for my big ultrasound to take place next week. I know some of these fears will be addressed, and I will be able to plan at least the nursery colors. What I also know, what I have slowly learned in my forty years is that it's okay to make a plan, but also plan for it not to work out precisely as you'd envisioned. I can sit here and wish for the daughter I've always wanted or a super good baby that could travel to Hawaii with us anyway, but what I really want is a healthy baby that grows and develops normally.
That's the plan anyway . . .