The hot, sticky summer heat radiated throughout the car. Even with the air conditioning on high, sweat trickled down the back of my neck. Normally the heat would bother me, but today my thoughts were miles away. Eyes straight ahead with a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel, I drove with a purpose.
My son stirred in his car seat behind me as I pulled into the parking lot of the library.
I felt as if I was on autopilot getting our things out of the car. Grabbing book returns, the diaper bag, setting up the stroller, and checking for essentials I performed without much thought. Almost seamlessly, my tight grip on the steering wheel transfered to the handles of the stroller as I pushed my son into the cool and quiet library.
Without so much as a glance, I headed straight to the back where the restrooms were. I had only been to our neighborhood library once before, but I knew exactly where to go. Maneuvering the stroller into a handicapped stall, I locked it in place and grabbed the grocery bag out of my purse.
Every woman understands the feeling; pulse racing, trembling hands, blurry eyesight—it seems nearly impossible to concentrate enough to open the small package. Once you get it open, you know immediately what to do, even if you have never used one before. The wait is unbearable, especially if it takes five minutes like the instructions say.
With a sigh of relief, I stare at my son and smile. Only one blue line. Not pregnant. My three-month-old baby boy finally wakes and immediately gives me his irresistible toothless grin. I look back at the test one more time and relax.
In retrospect, it’s hard to understand why I would have the fear of God in me while taking a pregnancy test. I love my son more than life itself, he was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am financially stable and could easily afford another little one. I love children, they are the purpose of my career. Even pregnancy and delivery wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. Yet, the idea of growing another life inside me made me deathly ill.
The only women who can truly understand this fear are those who have battled the life-threatening disease Preeclampsia. This is a disease that some women develop while pregnant, which is characterized by high blood pressure, swelling, headaches and possibly organ failure, seizures, coma, or death. Some women are lucky enough to develop preeclampsia later in pregnancy and deliver with no complications; others may not be so lucky and battle to save the life of their child.
When I first brought my son home he was a constant reminder of how traumatic the end of my pregnancy was leading up to the delivery. I couldn’t look at him without feeling large amounts of anxiety about my health. After awhile, I embraced him as a miracle and a powerful lesson. It was important for me to look at my son and remember how essential it is to care for myself and how truly lucky I am to be here and have such a beautiful and health baby boy to care for.
As I left the library I felt a twinge of anger. Every day on the news there are stories of women abandoning babies in garbage cans or leaving infants in hot cars and eventually killing them. They take for granted the amazing gift of being able to create life without harm. Other women are desperate in their struggle to create a child they truly want. Sometimes it makes me want to question the “intelligent design,” wondering how a higher power could ever create such a world.
For every mother who has struggled in the face of adversity, hold on. There are thousands of us out there who understand this different kind of fear.