Finding yourself pregnant after your husband dies is an experience like no other. It was everything: good, bad, scary, amazing, tragic, mind blowing, happy, sad, overwhelming, nauseating, painful, exhilarating. I was suddenly alone and I had two little girls already that were looking to me, just me all of a sudden, for the answers to their questions and for their everything. I really had trouble processing the situation – it just didn’t make sense in my brain.
I had another really interesting emotion come up for me too: shame. I don’t know why but I felt ashamed. I felt stupid. Like a pregnant teenager that had made a huge mistake. So weird. I mean, I was 36 years old and married. Well, not married any longer exactly. Kind of married? Ugh. No, I was no longer married as much as I still felt that I was. I was almost embarrassed when I told friends and family the news. I can’t explain it, but I felt as if people would look at me like I was an idiot. I actually had two people ask me, right after I told them that I was pregnant, if I was going to keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy. Those words knocked the wind out of me, although I certainly understand where they were coming from. How it could look, from the outside looking in, like a very good option. My life was so insane already. But that thought never crossed my mind – well, until it was brought up. But I never entertained that idea. The thought of going through that after losing my husband was even crazier than being pregnant. It would have made the road smoother in some respects I suppose, but dammit, I was in my 30’s, already a mom, and this was a baby that we had wanted, talked about and had already started loving before we even knew it existed. There was just not a chance that I would not have the baby.
I did not tell many people that I was pregnant. The embarrassment was kind of overwhelming – well, the whole situation was. And I was worried that something bad was going to happen, not if I told, but just because of the circumstances. I was thinking that my husband died – what’s next? Something is bound to go wrong with the pregnancy. I had an ultrasound early and then I had another at around 10 weeks. That once again was all good, but you still couldn’t convince me that something wasn’t going to go wrong.
But there I was, mid-December, over a month since Steven had died – and I still had not told my family that I was going to have a baby. I had only shared with a close circle of friends. I still was having trouble getting the words out of my mouth. I remember going in to visit with our wonderful parish priest and telling him about it. He was – shocked. And tried so hard to conceal it. He was unsuccessful. We laughed and cried about it together and he reassured me that the community would be there for me and my girls. He also spoke to me about this amazing blessing that I was trusted with and the gift that this baby would be to me and to the world. And man, he was right.
Christmas was quickly approaching and I knew I had to tell our family about the baby. This being my 3rd baby, I was already starting to show – either that or I was just gaining weight. I know so many widows that couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep after their person died. Not me. Get in my belly. Comfort! And sleep – yes please! Any way to escape reality – and I couldn’t drink or use any kind of drugs now so…sleep and eat. I did that. I was in such great physical shape when Steve died. Yeah, that body has not been seen since November 8, 2006. Crap.
I struggled with how to tell everyone that baby number 3 was on the way – including my girls. School pictures of the girls were a typical gift then for our parents and siblings so I got an idea. I made a package for my parents, Steve’s parents, his sister, my brother. Each package had 3 smaller packages within it and they were numbered 1, 2 and 3. I was with them when they opened them (except my parents – I had to lead them thru it over the phone) and told them to open them in order. The package labeled number 1 was a framed photo of Maggie. The package labeled number 2 was a framed photo of Melissa. The package labeled number 3 was a framed photo of…the ultrasound. I didn’t say a word as they opened them. My favorite reaction was from my beloved Father in-law. He opened number 3, looked up with a very confused look on his face, and asked, “Is that a shell?”
Telling my parents was the hardest – and it was that ridiculous shame I was feeling. It all disappeared after I talked with them on the phone Christmas Day and I heard my mom and dad both crying – from happiness. It was a miracle that I was pregnant with this amazing angel and from day one, this baby brought tremendous happiness, light, laughter and hope to this world.