Ancient History

Follow Me?


Baby, baby, number nine

When someone says they were “floored” by something, I know what they mean.

It’s being upright mentally and physically one moment. The next, you are a part of the cool ceramic tile on your bathroom floor, complete with the grids, the stray hair, the errant bandaid wrapper nobody bothered to pick up. I was floored when I saw two lines on the pregnancy test. I was also gobsmacked, blindsided, stunned.

And not happy.

Teddy was supposed to be our last baby. I had abdominal surgery in December. Two mesh panels were installed in my lower abdomen because of a ventral hernia related to my last c-section. I had just been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Being pregnant was the last thing I needed and the last thing I thought would happen. It never occured to me I was pregnant.

The only reason I tested was because my thighs were hurting the night before at the ballet. I noted, as dancers took the stage in the third act, the only time my thighs ached that way was when I am pregnant. I started doing math. Counting. Disbelieving. I pushed the possibility out of my mind until nearly 24 hours later when a short walk made me so miserably exhausted that I had to know the truth. Home, I went upstairs and dug a pregnancy test out of the back of the cupboard under the sink. I took it and became part grout, part ceramic, part shaggy IKEA bathroom rug.

I barely talked for the next four days. It had to be some sort of weird conspiracy: A faulty test joining forces with wonky middle-aged woman hormones. Where was the laugh track? My husband noticed. He asked what was wrong. I couldn’t talk to him, my best friend. I felt totally alone in my wait for everything to clear up. I took another test. Probably wonky too? What was with all these defective pregnancy tests, anyway? Quality control, people.

Finally, I had to tell my husband. It was a weekday. He came home for lunch and I couldn’t form my mouth into the proper shapes to make the words. I wanted him to read my mind, like countless foolish times before. He was clearly worried. We stood in the kitchen, both of us leaning on counters opposite each other. It was almost time for him to return to work and I sensed the time had come. I admitted, to more than just him, I was pregnant.

He was visibly relieved, laughing he thought it was something much worse, much more awful than a baby. A baby! He hugged me and told me it was going to be okay, we’d get through whatever was coming. I wept, ticking off my concerns and fears. Pregnancy loss! Hernia! Heart! Age! Nine kids! Never before had I started a pregnancy with so many strikes against me and our baby—if there was actually a baby.

It was February. chosen because I took it the day I found out...

As winter turned to spring, our little secret grew. Few people knew and we preferred it that way. There’s something about keeping a pregnancy hushed that I like. It’s good news, worthy of being shouted from rooftops. But it’s also something to treasure in a heart. My silence was motivated by fear and doubt in the beginning, but it changed into something different as time passed. I found the heartbeat. I saw our baby with churning arms and legs, seemingly clapping, moving so much the ultrasound tech had trouble chasing him or her down.

That busy babe was in the bathroom when my jaw was on the floor, when words caught in my throat, when I leaned on our kitchen counter. Baby was on board even when I wasn’t. Thanks, baby.

29 comments to Baby, baby, number nine

  • Oh, Gretchen. I don’t even know what to say except that your writing is my absolute fave.


  • Oh, I have definitely been there. Well, it was only #7, but the emotions were the same. I am happy to report, though, that we survived the resulting 18 weeks of bed rest and have a healthy baby boy to show for it. I wouldn’t change a thing. But that first week? I was a crazy woman. Congrats to you!

  • WOW. Congratulations. You are such an awesome mom. You can do this. =)

  • Oh my gosh I’m so happy I just clicked on a tweet to this post because YOU are an amazing writer. I have terrible risks to getting pregnant again so I can only imagine your fear. Congratulations to you.

  • Congrats!! I’m thrilled for you!

    Mary, momma to 10

  • What a great post, Gretchen!!

  • Love this – thanks for sharing and lady you look marvelous… Wow! Great story

  • Even though our experiences are different, I completely get the feeling of merging with the bathroom floor after such a test.

    And of getting on board with a revised plan, too and finding it, finally, perfect.

  • God knew, didn’t He? That you needed this baby who would floor you with goodness and grace and the miracle of unexpected happiness. So happy for you! And praying that your pregnancy is healthy and great.

  • And now I know … the rest of the story.

    I want to say a simultaneous Babies Are Awesome and Bless Your Heart.

    But I am excited to live this vicariously through you, and we both know this will be a wonderful addition to your already bustling home. We should start an online meal sign-up for you. Because if anyone is worthy….

  • I love how you tell the stories of your amazing all your very own life.

  • I love how honest you are in your writing and just in general. What a fabulous post! And just wait, this baby will cure cancer, be the tie that holds the family together, or just be amazingly cute and her own person and you’ll never know how you imagined a world without her. Congratulations!

  • Gretchen – Congrats on little #9. I agree with Daria, I love your honesty in writing. You are the best mom and I am in awe of you. This new little one is a blessing even if she began with a gasp.

  • You tell the BEST BEST BEST stories, mama. The best. I was right alongside you, feeling the inner groan with every syllable.

    My word verification on this comment is “mighty.” God is mighty and so are you, though I can only imagine you don’t feel that at the moment. Thanks for sharing this secret with us, Gretchen. Can’t wait to read as this story unfolds.

  • edj

    Congrats! I can relate to your feelings, although you’ll think I’m a wimp. When Elliot was barely 12 months old I found out I was pg. It was too soon. I was devastated. I bawled for 3 hours straight, no exaggeration, the only time I’ve ever cried that long. Donn started out sympathetic but had lost patience by the end. I thought I had a miscarriage after that and I was actually happy about it. I called my dr to tell him. During my exam, he said he thought I was still pg and sent me for an ultrasound, which is how I found out I was 7 weeks along with twins. Now, of course, I wouldn’t trade them for the world–and it’s funny how my feelings changed the minute I saw those little heartbeats, just two flashing lights on the monitor.
    I look forward to hearing all about this new little one! 🙂

  • I already replied on the Twitter, but want to reply here too. Minus the medical issues I have so been there. And with the potential for medical issues too. I think it is so, so important that those of us with large families are honest about our surprises and our reactions. It is not always rainbows and unicorns when we first find we are expecting. And I think that is true for women all over and in all circumstances. It is astounding how our hearts can change so quickly though. Even as I didn’t plan to have a baby my heart would pound at the thought of losing that baby. This is just so beautifully and honestly written. I love it.

  • All I can say is CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

  • Dear floored friend, I so understand… the overwhelmingness of being pregnant again and the wanting a little life so badly but dreading the positive test all at the same time… I so understand the days of silence… how do you actually voice all this after all… what words can explain that inner joy and at the same time the sigh for your body… So thankful for a gracious husband who is always overjoyed and bouncing at the news!!! Lots of love to you and strength of course by the bucket load…

  • I love the imagery in your post! I had a similar reaction to baby #2, who was totally unexpected because baby #1 was only 14 months old and we needed fertility drugs to get him. Praying for many blessings for you and your new baby!

  • So brilliantly written. So happy for you and your family. Challenges are challenges – but you’ll totally get through that part!! Much love my friend!! Congrats!

  • NTE

    Congratulations ~ Your writing is always so evocative, and I’m so glad you keep sharing it.

  • So beautifully written Gretchen. It is amazing how a little baby can change the course of things. Congratulations.

  • Amy

    It’s so easy to find ourselves sprawled out on the bathroom floor when things don’t go quite the way we planned. I do appreciate your honesty and am thrilled that God threw you a monkey wrench in the form of baby number nine Praying that the remainder of your pregnancy will be a breeze.

  • Erin Sakryd

    Gretchen, you surprise me and amaze me with your words…not just how you put words together to make beautiful vignettes of life, but what you have to say. Congratulations. And your honestly is so compelling, and very much appreciated. Praying that all goes well with this little one. Hang in there Mama!

  • I am so excited for you! And what a beautiful and honest post. I’ll add my prayers to the others going up for an easy and healthy pregnancy.

  • Emily

    Great post! And CONGRATS!

  • I keep seeing stuff on twitter and wanting to say CONGRATULATIONS except it feels too cheap to say it on twitter. Ahhh! Congratulations! I can’t wait to find out if baby is a boy or girl and which name you choose. 🙂

  • I came here by way of Jessica (Four Plus An Angel), and I’m so glad I did. You weave words the way an artist touches his brush to a canvas – so effortless, beautiful and warm.

    Congratulations to you!!

    • Gretchen

      Thank you, Alison! I appreciate your kind words. But believe me, effortless isn’t a word I’d ever use! Hee hee. I bang my head on the keyboard constantly.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>