Being :: Four

April 6, 2012

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Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.

Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.

We were, for many years, a family of three. Almost eight years to be a bit more exact. And I think that we made a very good family of three. We moved through our days with a familiar, comfortable rhythm of being together, even when life threw some significant challenges our way, such as a cross-country move for my husband to attend medical school.

But for a number of those years of three, there was also a hope that our little family might be somewhat less little in the future. I knew that I wanted my daughter to have a sibling, and making this happen seemed easy enough in theory. But as is often the case, life isn’t something that you can plan. It unfolds in ways that are totally unexpected, unforeseen and yes, sometimes challenging. There were moves, career shifts, stunningly difficult pregnancies that ended in complicated miscarriages. And then, just a few months ago, Zakariya was born.

My pregnancy was not easy. You are unlikely to hear me reminisce about the process of bringing this little fellow into being. Don’t misunderstand me- not for a single second did I take it for granted, or feel anything other than incredible gratitude for the gift of another child. I knew that it was a blessing to have a pregnancy that continued from one week into the next and that was going to at long last result in an actual human being landing in my arms, believe me. But it was hard. Really hard. And to deny that would be dishonest.

I was so sick that i.v. fluids were the only thing that kept me from hospitalization. There were weeks when my hands were so bruised from receiving those fluids that strangers stared at them with concern. My pregnancy challenged my sense of self, and my longstanding feelings of competency and strength as a person and as a mother. I felt judged for my weaknesses and wholly frustrated by the seemingly endless parade of people who had blissful, easy pregnancies and who were sure that I’d feel better if I just ate a cracker. And, as a person who normally considers herself to be strong, independent, and capable, it was impossibly hard for me to have other people worrying about my well being.

But in the end, none of that really matters to me any longer. It is, honestly, almost as if it never happened. My baby is here. And watching my two children settle into their roles as siblings and companions on this journey of growing up in the world has made my heart feel bigger, fuller and more joyfully vulnerable than I ever could have imagined.

Zak often goes to bed early in the evenings. He is already showing himself to be a creature of habit, not unlike his mama. And sometimes, after he is asleep, the other three of us will sit at the dining room table, have a quiet dinner, play a board game afterward. During those moments, it is almost as if we are three again. Or, it certainly would look that way to someone observing from the outside. But it feels different. There is a feeling of being more, of being complete, of having the satisfaction and warmth that comes from abundant love, well placed. I was thinking about this the other evening, trying to find words to put to that feeling. And then, finally, I realized exactly what it is.

We feel like four.

This month we welcome Annie of the blog Bird and Little Bird . Annie is the mama of two young children, and along with her blog, she is also the creator of the incredibly popular Alphabet Glue e-magazine. We look forward to having Annie with us in the coming weeks, and we hope that you will join us here every Tuesday for Annie’s words, photographs and reflections. 

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Alexandra April 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Annie – What a beautiful little guy. I think he already knows he’s joined a pretty special family. What a wonderful reflection about the journey to arrive at your happy four. And I love the image of the special bond between the three that can still exist while the littlest one is sleeping. And you made me laugh with the oh-so-helpful advice of someone to solve your difficulties by eating a cracker. I remember so well the “tips” from others during my pregnancies! Thank you for sharing this! -Alexandra

Caroline April 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Annie, this is so beautifully written. Adjusting to *four* has been a challenge for us. Of course, it is accompanied by many other twists, as you already know.

I’m glad that you can revisit *three* from time to time. I’m sure your sweet daughter is too!

Meryl April 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

This made me feel all warm and nice inside. Those beautiful siblings…and all that fuzzy hair! (And the cracker part made me smile. I had a relatively easy pregnancy, but I got so frustrated with that suggestion during the morning sickness-y parts of my first trimester. It was like, “Really?! You think I didn’t think of that!”)

KC April 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

What a wonderful post. I have a friend who is having a very difficult pregnancy as well. She has been in the hospital on and off the time. I’m glad that you have and were able to move beyond that. I find it incredible how easy it is to forget any bad times during pregnancy or child birth. I suppose that would be the only way you would do it again!

Your son is absolutely adorable!

Angela April 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

As we are about to become a family of five, it is lovely to read of the journey of your family.

Nicole April 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

We have a familiar story with the struggle to be a family of 4. We now have a foster son who we hope to adopt. Adjusting to 4 has been challenging especially when you don’t know if we will continue to be 4. I do miss our family of 3, but feel blessed to help another find there place in life. Thanks for the post.

Julie R. April 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Wow, your words really struck a cord. I had a very similar first pregnancy which caused me to leave my job much earlier than planned, which may have jepordized my chances to ultimately return to my much loved teaching job. I don’t think anyone understands what it feels like to be so sick for so long without any real ability to cure the pain, unless they have been through it. Of course now, with my beautiful daughter, the pain has faded, but it resonates enough that having a second petrifies me. Although, I know some day I will find the courage to make it happen!

mare April 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

dear annie, i just read thru this and didnt realize it was you – i follow your blog and your story there gave me hope. i too was quite sick with my first pregnancy and your words matched my feelings exactly. and yes, the comments and suggestions from others were so difficult (my favorite – ‘have you tried GINGER?’ i feel i got that every day.) thank you for sharing your story and congrats on becoming four – and with such grace, it gives me hope.

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