After months and months of thinking and analyzing, this fall I made the decision to go back to the PhD I left in 2015. I resumed my studies in September, feeling good about my children and how they would deal with this change. Nathan is 7, Noah is turning 5, and Nicholas turned 1 in October. My two oldest are in a different, much better place than when I left school two years ago. They have gotten used to their school routine, their teachers and their friends, and Nicholas goes to daycare two and a half days a week, so he’s not away from me the whole time. These factors made me feel that it would be ok for me to give school a second try. This time I went back with a different mentality about what it means to be a graduate student with a young family. I wrote down 20 points to remember and pinned it to the wall of my cubicle. Perhaps I’ll post that list next.
And so it looked like we would go through a lot of adjustment — me back in school, Davi starting a new job, Nicholas in daycare — but we would ride these waves and eventually get in a groove that worked for our family. Our plan was to work hard, raise our kids, sleep better, and enjoy the stages of parenting as the boys grow older. And then this happened. Pay close attention to these pictures of me holding my dear children:
By the size of Nathan’s feet and the length of Noah’s legs, you can tell that this picture is recent, which means that it is not Nicholas growing in the belly bump you see. Wait, what? The bump that you see is our fourth baby, conceived in spite of contraception and plans. This is a soul that really wants to see this world, because, let me tell you, there were obstacles in the way.
“You must be so happy!” “Maybe now you’ll get your girl!” “How lucky you are!” To be honest, I’m slowly getting on a path of acceptance. Of course we already love this little bean and can’t wait to see her/his face, but this was a huge curveball. Huge. We thought our family was complete. We thought we would sleep again. We didn’t miss not having a girl. Thoughts of desperation have washed over me many times: how are we going to do this when Nicholas is so little? I really wanted to devote my undivided attention to him a bit longer. How are we going to raise a toddler and a newborn at the same time, while driving the two oldest to skating lessons and attending their school concerts? How does one finish a Ph.D. with four kids? Why did this happen when we were diligently trying to avoid it?
Here is the thing about contraceptive methods: none of them is 100% effective. We fell in the 2%-margin of failure. And I’ve had to explain this many times, since people look at us as if we were rabbits avid for procreation. The thing is: this explanation shouldn’t even be necessary. What if we were indeed “rabbits” avid por procreation?
I say this because on this hard but beautiful part of our path, we have been met with harsh criticism. My intelligence has been contested along with the health of my marriage and my children’s well-being. I have been called selfish, stupid, neglectful, you name it. People who were once close to me are not speaking to me anymore, as if I had asked them to raise my children and pay my bills. These are people who don’t even live on this continent. All because we decided to welcome this life that chose our family to be born into. These reactions left me absolutely broken inside. I haven’t cried because I don’t even understand how bringing a baby into the world is a bad thing, a baby who will be raised by us and nobody else. Perhaps this is why I had a haircut after 9 months of not caring about my hair — because I wanted to look at myself in the mirror and not feel like a garbage person. It’s hard when you’re made to feel that way.
So, if you see me (or any other pregnant person, for that matter), please be kind. Don’t bring assumptions into the conversation. No one knows how much struggle is behind a pregnancy. I will take hugs and excitement at any time 🙂 And here is a picture of Nicholas to brighten up your Sunday:
Have you ever gotten pregnant without planning to? I’d love to hear some stories.