My sister was trying on wedding dress number 4 when the discussion turned to bridesmaid’s dresses. My mother half-joked that it better have a high waist in case I got pregnant. I had been trying for months and it was horrifying to imagine how I would feel standing up there a year later in a figure-hugging dress. The sinking feeling only intensified when I imagined being too pregnant instead. My sister was going to be married on a snowy mountain top 1,000 miles away. I knew there was very real chance my attempted baby-making would be a huge problem.
Just weeks later I came bounding out of the bathroom at 6 a.m. to wake my husband up with the news we were finally pregnant. I felt so full. Full of life. Full of happiness. Full of love.
Seeing that amazing little flicker at our first ultrasound made two things very clear: 1) I really was pregnant, and 2) I really was going to miss my sister’s wedding.
My projected due date was just two-and-a-half weeks before my sister’s destination wedding. Best-case scenario? I go into pre-term labor and have a one-month old infant. Worst case? I went late and was emergency induced a few days before she said "I do."
This would be the first baby in the family. A baby that was deeply wanted and wished for and waited for. But it was also in the way.
Sure traveling with a newborn is possible. Most airlines let babies fly if they are at least one week old (Southwest requires babies to be two weeks old to fly). Of course, there was no guarantee my baby would be a week old. Most first-time mothers give birth on the late side.
But I wouldn’t just be flying. I’d be flying during flu season. Flying and then driving for several hours in the dead of winter up a mountain to two miles above sea level. No corner of the internet or baby chat room thought that was a good idea. Neither did my midwife. My midwife said, in a slightly more professional way, HARD PASS.
That lovely fullness I felt quickly fell away. What should have been an incredible moment for me and for my family was met with hesitation and even disappointment. This would be the first baby in the family. A baby that was deeply wanted and wished for and waited for. But it was also in the way. And I felt every bit of it.
The moment of silence after I told my sister over the phone seemed to last years. She was hurt and (allegedly) suggested that I should have waited to keep trying. She thought I wasn’t as upset as I should be to miss the wedding. I simply didn’t know how to respond or how to be so gloriously happy while feeling the loss of this moment with my family. The lack of enthusiasm was heartbreaking, and I just disengaged from the whole thing. For months, an enormous wall of disregarded feelings kept my mother, my sister, and myself from talking much about babies or weddings.
Being a thousand miles from my entire family on my sister’s wedding day was one of the loneliest moments of my life.
But the larger my belly got, the more understanding my family seemed to be. We all started to thaw. Something about watching me waddle around must have made them rethink their arguments that I could absolutely strap into some Spanx and haul a newborn across the country to have a stranger babysit her in a hotel room for three days of wedding events. Other invitees also began replying that they had been advised that a high-altitude trip was ill-advised for their own pregnancies and health conditions.
And I think they were starting to get excited about meeting my baby.
I would not change one thing about my pregnancy or birth. But being a thousand miles from my entire family on my sister’s wedding day was one of the loneliest moments of my life. I don’t live close to my extended family so I don’t see them much. And since I’m already married this wedding was the last time where both side of my family would be together like this. And I missed it. I sat at home, alone with my 2-week-old baby. My husband was at work and every other person I love was dancing and partying the night away, celebrating together.
My father Face-Timed me the afternoon of the wedding. A dozen of my loved-ones jumped into the frame for a minute to sneak a peek at the baby and say hello. I was in pajamas and hadn’t slept (or showered) in a while. While they laughed and joked, I struggled to keep the baby from screaming. Everyone told me over and over how sad they were that I wasn’t there — but that they were all having a blast.
I know I hurt my sister’s feelings for not mourning that I missed her wedding more. In my own selfish way, I’d wished they’d tossed their plans to accommodate me. I never expected them to, nor should they have. Had it just been six weeks to either side, I could have joined my family to watch my only sibling marry the man of her dreams. But my daughter had other plans.
I’ve never looked at my sister’s wedding pictures. There are a few bridal shots I’ve seen on Facebook, but I’ve avoided the rest. I think back to my wedding pictures. My 85-year-old grandmother mid twist, dancing with me to Shout. My dad forcing all his siblings into a picture with them all looking at different cameras. It makes me sad. But was I supposed to be sad? How can I be sad when after a year of trying I got pregnant? I don’t get to be sad holding a perfectly healthy and happy newborn, something not everyone who gets pregnant even gets to experience.