Catherine Abegg » wedding & portrait photographer from seattle, wa... specializing in lifestyle, travel, and film photography.

37 years old & 37 weeks pregnant!

Today, I turn 37 years old, and I am 37 weeks pregnant… Happy Birthday To Me! Not in one million years would I have ever imagined that this would ever be the case. I gave birth to Madeline when I was 18 years old, and for the last 18 years, I’ve made it a point to say that I would be “done” parenting at 36 years old, and that I would have a new sense of freedom at such a young age. I would brag about this fact in the early years, and in the later years, when we desperately wanted another baby & we struggled with infertility, even then I would comfort myself with the fact that I would have years of freedom and years of “being young again” to make up for all the years that I was tied down by motherhood.

And then this happened. Things didn’t “flow” as normally scheduled, and the test showed that I was in fact pregnant… and this was just weeks before Madeline herself was to turn 18 years old! Talk about hilarious timing, and talk about a shock. Michael & I have been together for seven years, and for seven years we had never stopped trying to get pregnant; it was a solid five heartbreaking years of non-stop trying, with what at first seemed really fun eventually turned into months that were split into two weeks of anxiety and two weeks of depression, and a love life that often felt more like a science experiment. And then those five years were followed by a solid two years of finally allowing ourselves to mourn the thought of having another child, letting go, and finally moving on from it, together. While, of course, both secretly hoping that we would somehow accidentally get pregnant.

Which we did. Surprise, surprise.

I am fully aware of how people get pregnant, biologically. But with this pregnancy, I have come to entertain the notion that there can also be a spiritual &/or mental factor in getting pregnant as well. Not like, Immaculate Conception, but like… a place where mind & body finally became friends, worked together, and a baby was made. And the reason I think so heavily on this, is because there were a series of events that happened in the last year that I truly feel were stepping stones leading up to what is happening to my body & in my life on this very day.

First, I will mention October 31, 2014. Halloween, a little over one year ago. It was a beautiful crisp fall day, and I was walking around Ballard while doing my normal route of shopping, general errand-running, and getting a coffee… and everyone was open for business as children walked from store to store with their parents, dressed in their costumes, and accepting the candy & gifts that were being given out by all of the local businesses. It was cuteness overload, and I was smiling, laughing, waving, and overall just happily enjoying seeing all of the sweet families. And then suddenly, I was crying. Much to my embarrassment, I couldn’t stop crying, and I hurried home as fast as I could. I was so surprised at myself because I knew why I was crying; I knew that I may never have to give up Christmas or Thanksgiving as a mother, but Halloween? Halloween & its adorable traditions I would never get back. But I didn’t know how I could be crying. I thought that I was good, and that I had given up the hopes of having another child & had moved on from it. But here I was having to practically run to the safety of my home, crying uncontrollably the whole way. But apparently, shamefully, I wasn’t… but I made it home, and I never told anyone about what happened.

The next month, Michael & I went on a life-changing hike on the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, to Kalalau Valley. I’ve written pretty extensively about our trip here, so I’ll tell you in short what happened to my heart: I went to that tiny island, I pushed myself to a place that I never thought possible, and somewhere along the way I found that I had fallen madly in love with Michael, all over again. I’m not sure how or why, and I’m not even sure that I knew we needed to fall back in love. But I do know that it felt like I had found a little of myself on that trip, and I found that a very big part of “myself” was all Michael. He knew me & he loved me, and for some reason it took this trip for me to see me through his ever-loving eyes.

Blah. Seriously. I know how this sounds.

But what stemmed from there were several months of us being deeply, madly in love. And I felt it happening, but I honestly didn’t give much thought to it & also to all that stuff about our trip to Kalalau, until I was pregnant and spent so many sleepless nights thanking my lucky stars & still asking myself how I got so lucky. I even remember two separate conversations with two completely separate friends before I got pregnant, where I mentioned with wonder & delight that “I’m not sure what’s going on, but Michael & I are so in love right now.”

And if you know Michael & I, we have always been so in love! We met each other seven years ago, and we fell in love immediately… we combined our lives without hesitation, and we became a family. I’ve always had a healthy crush on him, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is very mutual. So when I say that we were so in love, I can’t say how it was different, but I can just say that it most certainly was.

Fast forward to February, to me teaching a class at the wonderful Photo Field Trip at El Capitan Canyon, in California… a class aptly named “Good Vibes 101: Harnessing Your Own Positivity To Create The Life Of Your Dreams.” During this class, my goal was to open up the floor for discussions about our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and things that we needed to get out there into the universe to get us past our own self-made hangups. It was a wonderful experience, and something that I’m very proud of; however, it was one of the attendees who openly questioned my own so-called happiness, and asked if I had things that I’ve also never shared with anyone or something that has happened in my life that was less than ideal. So I swallowed my own pride, and for the first time I openly talked my struggles with infertility, and that the only answer I had regarding this struggle was that I was just happy to be sharing my dreams of having another child with someone I love, regardless of the outcome. Similar to the saying that the journey is more important than the destination, that’s how I wanted to look at this struggle that Michael & had been through, and just be thankful that we had each other all along the way.

So, in that class I did what I was hoping to encourage others to do: I spoke about my deepest sadness, to those around me & to the universe, and I let it go.

And wouldn’t you know it… I came home from Field Trip, and literally I got pregnant right then!!!

All of this to say, I’m not sure how I got pregnant. I mean I know hooooooww I got pregnant, but I’m like, why?! Why did it take so long, and why now? Also, how strange is it that Madeline & I FINALLY took that trip together to New York City, that long overdue trip that changed everything for us as mother & daughter, just a few weeks before my body was to start housing another child within it?! Talk about a huge amount of letting go!!! Not only did I have to let go of my own inhibitions & allow myself to fully be loved, but I had to let go of my sadness & fears, and I had to let go of nearly eighteen years of this giant chip on my shoulder of raising a child in spite of the hardships with which I brought her into this world, and come to terms with the fact that we were good. We were great. And that the world was on our side after all.

wow wow wow, WOW.

So, here I am. 37 years old & 37 weeks pregnant! I am huge, I am healthy, and I am ready to meet our son & to finally give Madeline the baby brother that she’s always wanted. I still have many fears, but I also have many lessons about life and about facing fears that I unknowingly taught myself through the years: To accept when needed. And to let go, when needed.

And back to something that happened on that day last year, on Halloween. I rushed home, and I wrote in our marriage journal, dated October 31, 2014: “I have decided that I am not giving up, and I am going to put it out there… I would like to have two more children. One boy & one girl. Thank you.” I swear to you, that I do not remember writing that down in our journal, and I didn’t even find it until we were packing up our house to make the big move into our little van eight months later, when I was almost four months pregnant. I saw what I had written, and once again I was crying, but this time with disbelief at my good fortune & with overwhelming happiness.

Thank you, Universe! And thank you to me, you big old pregnant lady birthday girl!!!

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  • November 18, 2015 - 12:13 pm

    Mary W - Wow! I’m so happy for you guys. Happy birthday and congratulations!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2015 - 3:11 pm

    sammy - happy birthday! i love you! have a wonderful day and looking forward to the day I get to meet baby abegg xoxReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2015 - 4:15 am

    Robert Gaines - Awesome story! I can relate in many ways and appreciate your sharing. More people need to know that there’s tremendous power and believing and having faith in the truth of their desires despite the odds against them coming to pass. Congrats to you and your family and many blessings to you on the upcoming journey. Cant wait to see how your little guy shapes your future work. I can attest to the fact that he will. He definitely will ;-)ReplyCancel

  • November 23, 2015 - 10:18 am

    Simone Anne - This was beautiful. I am so happy for you!ReplyCancel

  • November 29, 2015 - 11:37 am

    David Manalo - This history is so interesting and life-affirming. I am glad you synthesized all of these memories into one flowing narrative. It makes me think that Haakan needed parents who had reached a certain level of vulnerability and understanding to get him properly started on his life journey. Perhaps he could have come sooner, but without those specific life lessons you weren’t truly ready for him. And now you are!ReplyCancel

  • December 4, 2015 - 3:10 am

    Erin Hanks - Well, it’s 6am in NC this morning and you got my sipping coffee & crying. Thank you for sharing your story and being so candid. While I haven’t struggled with infertility, I have struggled with food addiction and body issues and this post resonated with me on that front. Deep breaths and trying to admit things and let things out into the universe slowly. By the way, I can’t get enough of Haaken and this family of 4 of yours. A great big hug, tight squeeze, and all the love vibes coming your way.ReplyCancel

  • June 15, 2016 - 3:31 pm

    haakan’s birth story // abegg adventures // photos by madeline manalo » Catherine Abegg - […] some thoughts during my pregnancy, that I happened to write exactly one week before he was born:… and also a short documentary by Stateless Media, where you can hear Haakan’s first […]ReplyCancel

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