Surprised by Joy

Few authors have the ability to travel with us from childhood to adulthood, but C.S. Lewis has traveled with me. From his Chronicles of Narnia to Mere Christianity (an adaptation of BBC radio talks), it was not so much his ideals as his eloquent and thoughtful writing that captivated me. The work that has perhaps held greatest significance for me is Surprised by Joy, an autobiography of sorts that also tells of his discovery of “joy” in life, which he describes as fulfillment of deep longing. For him, it was a path from atheism to Christianity and for me that path has been rather the opposite. But the idea of being surprised by joy, of discovering something wonderous and life-changing when not expected… that I understand. So I borrow Mr. Lewis’ words now to describe what has happened to me (and explains where I’ve been) during the past few months.

One night in February as I lay in the dark next to TBM, I was overcome with an emotion so viceral (and I now know, so erroneous it’s confusing) that I told TBM, “I am deeply, deeply unhappy.” I knew from whence the emotion came; my monthly cycle was due any day. So this was PMS; and also another months’ grappling with the reality that motherhood- a role I had longed for since my earliest girlhood days- was not to be mine. The closest I would come to motherhood would be nurturing and loving the Large Breed (and love him I do… with such intensity that sometimes I bite his fur. I know that’s a strange thing, but it’s what I do sometimes when I’m hugging him and feel a great surge of love for that ridiculous dog).

About a week and a half later, after a perfect vacation with TBM that buoyed my spirits in all the ways I’d been needing, I took a pregnancy test. I didn’t need to, except to confirm that I’d entered peri-menopause, but instead the test confirmed I was pregnant. Surprised by joy. Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy.

Joy of Spring

The next several weeks were nerve-wracked, as I feared and anticipated miscarriage, which had always come before. But the surprises and joy continued: a strong heartbeat was heard pattering inside my belly; tiny nubs of arms and legs were forming, and jabbing out from the screen of an ultrasound machine. Blood levels were measured and found good; genetic tests were pronounced “clean;” clothes became tight; scents and foods took on revulsion. Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy.

Now, just into the second trimester of pregnancy (my pregnancy!), it’s starting to sink in for both TBM and me that there will likely be a live baby at the end of this whole process. The amount of change that will take place, the details we have to sort out, the budget crunching yet to do… all is so overwhelming so as to make us a laughing stock. Because our standard answer to every question from family and friends is: “We haven’t thought about that/ talked about that yet.” The only decision we have made is that we want to be surprised by the old-fashioned joy of learning if the baby is a boy or a girl when the baby is born, not before.

I’ve been derailed from normalcy during the early stages of pregnancy, but am now easing back in. Spring has finally, gratefully arrived; seedlings I’ve planted are coming along nicely but there’s a lot of work to do in the back yard before they’ll become part of a proper garden. Gratefully, morning sickness is subsiding and I’m able to work outside on sunny days; and do some serious spring cleaning and organizing inside on rainy days. I suppose soon we should start thinking about where a baby might sleep, how we’ll tote it around, not to mention what kind of name it should have. We’ll get there. There’s time.

What I want most to do, in the months to come during which this wee one is growing inside of me, is to do as C.S. Lewis advised (albeit in a different context): “Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears.” There is so much wonder to take in, being part of this surprising, joyous miracle, and I don’t want to miss a thing.