The Missing Piece

 Photo by:  Aubrey Renee

Photo by: Aubrey Renee

He is strong and so handsome, just like his Daddy. He is laughter and pure joy. He is the best hug and the sweet little voice that I remember as I drift off to sleep. He is medicine when my heart is sad and he is my pick me up when I fall. He was just six months old when I got pregnant unknowingly with his sister, seven months old when I found out. He was my baby. My Pierson Clive. The baby I tried several exciting months to get pregnant with. He was just learning how to sit up unassisted. I in turn, was just getting over my postpartum-thyroditis. (Yes, that's a thing. 10% of women get this quirky little disorder that is quote on quote 'temporary.' ) He was my boy. The one I thought I would have several years with, just us; him, me and his amazing Dad. A happy little family of three. I wasn't counting on that time being interrupted. I wasn't ready for my body to no longer be my own, especially when it had spent a year and a half NOT being its' own. Nine months of pregnancy, six of thyroiditis, six of breast-feeding (around the 7th month I dried up completely, thanks to my body starving itself from a hyperthyroid and a new pregnancy). I was angry and I was upset. I was hurt and scared; questioning myself and who I was.

It was Martin Luther King Junior day and the only reason I remember the significance in that, is because we as school teachers, had the day off. I woke up feeling funny, weird, exhausted and not myself. (By the way...I had never started a cycle after my son was born, in between the time of having him and getting pregnant with her. I was on the pill safe for nursing moms and I was breastfeeding. Maybe that helps drive home the point that I was drastically not feeling ready for another quite yet?)

“Go get a cheap pregnancy test, please.” I told my husband. And we both thought, “Yeah right.”

I remember that moment so vividly. I took a selfie, with my son and myself and the pregnancy stick box; and I texted it to my mom who lives out of state. We put our son down for his long afternoon nap, my husband began cooking lunch and I peed... I sat there and watched in the circle ,the blue line turn from a minus, into a faint plus. I felt like fainting. My heart started racing a hundred miles an hour. I yelled, “WHAT THE [insert inappropriate word here] ARE WE GOING TO DO!?!?!?” and my husband ran in. I really should instead say, “and my Saint ran in.” He kissed my head. “We're going to have a baby.” He responded. And I cried. I cried long and hard. As soon as my mom picked up the phone she said, “Oh, Ashley,” and I could feel the love in her voice. I sat on the couch for a very long time. I didn't eat lunch. And when my son woke from his nap, I cried big fat tears all over his head.

I stayed angry for quite a while. I really loved pregnancy with my son. I had planned for it and was ecstatic when we found out. I was excited to watch my belly grow and I didn't really care about the weight gain or the maternity clothes. But after he was born, my body went through so many drastic changes; rapid weight loss, an abnormally fast heart rate, hair falling out in massive chunks, crazy amounts of anxiety and sadness, and then the loss of my breast milk. Because it is temporary, meaning it can last anywhere from 3-7 months, the Thyroid Specialist wouldn't prescribe me anything except for my heart rate. And we never discovered that I even had crazy postpartum thyroiditis until my son was almost four months old. So I went through four months of just 'stuff.' Not fun, emotional, exhausting stuff. And two months later, I was pregnant? Oh boy...here we go...again?!?

The months passed and I discovered I was having a girl. I predicted she was a girl, very early in the pregnancy, as I craved completely opposite things, my face was breaking out like I was a pre-teen and my hormones were off the chart. Around twenty weeks, we had a gender reveal party and when I bit into that cupcake, I saw the pink filling and the ice on my heart slowly began to melt and fade away. I could feel sunshine making its' way inside and as usual in this pregnancy, I wanted to cry. My Pierson was going to have a baby sister. I was going to have a little girl. My very own little girl. And just like that, I believed that this all made sense. I was terrified to have two children who would be 15 months apart. I am a school teacher, traveling photographer, active church goer, wife and mom. I already felt tired all the time and I experienced a lot of self-doubt, my ability to raise two children. Time continued to pass and when we put a name to her, Reese Elisabeth-Morgan; named after my mom and grandmother, I began to instead trust that this was the plan all along. I didn't expect her, I didn't plan for her, and it took me a while to fall in love with her while she was in my belly; but she is the puzzle piece I never knew I was missing. She was born and she instantly completed our family. She had a speedy delivery, five hours total from start to finish, and I knew her the second she was placed in my arms.

Here she is, two-years old and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for choosing me to be her mom. Her brother Pierson, 3, doesn't remember a day without her. I was foolish to think that I had somehow jeopardized his childhood by bringing him a sibling so soon when the reality is, she was the miracle he also needed all along. Am I tired? Yes. Immensely. It feels like we are raising twins most days... A three year old and a two-year old...both able to run and walk, express their needs and wants, but both still needing us oh so much. Recently when they were both down for the night, I took a deep breath while I sat still for a moment, and this thought came into my mind:

You want the house to be spotless. The crumbs to disappear from the couch cushions and the endless missing toys shoved behind it, to only be put in their proper places. The dog hair never to be seen, the laundry washed and folded and the dishes to never be there in the sink. You want your mind to forget some of its' painful and hurtful past, for the anxieties of yesterday to not still be the anxieties of tomorrow. You want the energy of a child, the happiness and innocence. The dust to vanish and the hardwoods to shine. Or do you?... No. Not really! I want to embrace the moments and memories that surround me. To pick up the play doh bits happily off the floor and to smile when he's in bed and I find yet another Hot Wheel. To sigh when I find one of her princess's or the sippy cup she hid in the toy chest. I want to embrace it all, the laughter and joy, the pain and the regrets.

Sometimes we don't feel qualified. We are scared of the unknown and of the changes of the unpredictable future. But I don't for a second now doubt that my story was carefully woven by a beautiful plan. In those panic stricken moments, I wish I had just trusted. In the fear of my abilities, or the lack thereof, I wish I had believed in myself more. She is my calm and my fierce, my quiet soul and tiny dancer. She is my happiness and my chaos. My breath of fresh air and my safe haven. Put them together, and my children complete me. They have given me purpose and reason to truly believe, motherhood is a title I am so blessed to have been given.