“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”
― Adrienne Rich
― Adrienne Rich
I've put off writing for various reasons over the last few months. I think mainly, writing about uncharted territory and the vast amounts of gratitude I feel seem like insurmountable tasks; but I told myself I would try. In many, many words and a few pictures (I anticipate) this is the Husband and my current journey of next-generation creating, of losing and loving and living, of fear and freedom, elastic waste bands in the midst of life (and pillows), and a journey that ends, but truly begins, around December 10th, 2015. Read on if you have a trial of life to overcome or simply if there is room for hope in your day (or even, if there's not). It is cliche, but we've created something out of what seemed to be …nothing. This is our miracle.
"We may just need to get new friends," were my words after meeting up with three of my best childhood girlfriends, their significant others, and their children. Three of their older children joined the playtime while three fetuses rested peacefully in all of their wombs. If you're the couple without kids, regardless if you want them, my guess is you can relate. I contributed to conversations about diapers, sleep habits, terrible twos, and number twos with small bits of laughter and attempts to involve any child in my proximity in riveting conversations about the nature of blue and red blocks, just to avoid eye contact with the moms that are my dear friends, but that now have departed on journeys of their own. I was bitter, I was somewhat lost, I felt alone.
Infertility is selfish, mysterious, lonely, aggressive, silent, personal, fear-ridden, sad, monotonous, and many different adjectives for many different people, but it is also filled with a quiet, sometimes desperate, hope. If you choose, infertility is also filled with doctor's appointments, various hormone treatments, invasive procedures, and lots of ultrasounds, not to mention a box where you drop off your dignity near the front door. Over the years we were paired with doctors that cared, doctors who we met once that shuffled us through the back door, and on to nurses who feigned interest. I sat atop countless exam tables feeling the whole process was unnatural, could be avoided, and that perhaps it was just not our purpose, let alone our time, to have children. There are many factors that affect fertility, not the least of which is mental health, and needless to say, the Husband and I were dealing with what seemed like a forever ascending staircase.
After more deployments and life events in and out of our control, we took a break from treatments. I went back to school, we moved, and the Husband found employment far more rewarding than previous experiences. When we decided to try again, I read a host of books on the benefits of Eastern medicine and began acupuncture treatments, coupled with herbal supplements, a lack of drinking (gasp), and early-morning temperature readings. We were going to do this on our own. ...But still, no babies.
So when we gave in to Western medicine once again and were paired with a new doctor our friends praised, we also felt we were in a better state - healthier, happier, freer. Our friends remarked, "This is exciting! Now you know you'll eventually have a kid!" But I still doubted. As we talked through the first appointment relaying our journey to another new doctor, I sat just behind the Husband's right shoulder so he could not see my inability to keep my composure while the doctor spoke factually with a thick, endearing accent, nonchalantly handing me tissues to wipe away my frustration and anger. Despite being in a better place, I didn't want this to be our journey, after all.
Let it be.
Fertility drugs are sometimes sent via first class mail in refrigerated boxes lined with pages of instructions, warnings, and needle disposal kits. We popped ours in the vegetable drawer of our fridge and the Husband popped injections into my abdomen with the ease of his Army medic training. I developed a belt of dot bruises, and we kept our chins high. At this point, I took self-care to a new level and stopped anything that resembled a shock to my body (a conservative approach, yes, and also slightly crazy), did not let my feet get cold (which in Colorado last winter meant wearing three pairs of socks at all times), drank only room-temperature liquids, avoided alcohol, caffeine, and exercise (Joanna without a crutch and on hormones? Hide.), quit Cross-fitting, and resembled a highly-vitamined, more on-the-verge-of-a-breakdown version of myself. We went through a month of treatments. I was convinced the treatments did not work.
On the morning we could test for pregnancy I cried before I took the test. I limited myself from buying a caseload of pee sticks to use to test early. That single test was nearly all I thought about for two weeks (the TWW anyone?), or I suppose I could say that test had always been something for which I thought of constantly since we decided to start trying (#TTC) over five years prior. That test was either going to be the test, or just another.
That was it. That damn stick. That blessed stick.
I shook during the three minutes we waited for the results at 5:45 a.m. on a Tuesday, leaving the test on our bathroom counter while I crawled timidly back into bed, the entire time asking my husband if he could check, repeating that it wasn't positive, how could it be, I'd gotten my hopes up too high, I didn't feel pregnant, why would this have worked. His calm presence stilled me.
I covered my mouth when I saw the results, then I covered my eyes, then I looked at the Husband still lying in bed, then I burst into tears.
Like any pregnancy, friends, family, strangers, doctors, and your mind for that matter, give you an onslaught of solicited and unsolicited advice. Convinced this was still unreal despite the doctor's visits confirming the opposite and being released from the fertility clinic to a regular OB after a few months of monitoring, I spent the first trimester in a cocoon of nauseated worry wrapped in a prayer shawl my mom graciously gave me. After pregnancy losses in the past, I'm sure I am not alone in this practice, but fear, fear became an entity - my friend and my enemy - my companion that created doubt, worry, and numbness. I restricted myself from the internet message boards of hysterical, hormonal women going through something similar, binged on saltines, and paced in the worried space I created while watching record amounts of Colorado May rain fall outside. The first trimester ended.
We bought a stroller off of Craiglist, were gifted two onesies after we shared the news with friends and family, purchased a pair of tiny Chucks for an iPhone photo op, found a Timbuk2 diaper bag on sale, and feel like that's enough for now. I have Honey Almond Bath Salts, elastic waste bands, and two bins of cocoa butter I was also given that offer comfort and more external reminders of the changes to come, but otherwise, this journey is internal: filled with family tears from generations passing away to long conversations about names that we will not consider. This journey in many ways is ours, but we're also fitting our feet into the bounty of footprints that have walked this path before, choosing which steps fit for comfort, stress-relief, parenting practices, to calm nerves, and for the general happiness of bringing another person into the world…and that is a sacred, crazy, hard-to-believe miracle.
Halfway through the 40 weeks we scheduled and rescheduled ultrasounds, switched doctors, and requested our new, awesome doc please please please guess the gender on a non-gender ultrasound. We both held our breath thinking we would know best how to raise a boy, but knowing deep down the babe was probably a girl. With 85% certainty I baked a reveal cake like all the other excited families on Pinterest, felt cliche, but was/am so excited, and we announced in person to my family and over text to a few friends, then waited for the official gender ultrasound to confirm the results. Meanwhile, this beautiful little babe started to wiggle and dance, jerk and convulse, and gave us plenty of evening entertainment in which to revel. Not to mention the fact that its nose and that of the husband's appear to be the exact same - and that makes my heart swell.
I am someone who does not relax easily, who wants to accomplish a lot all at once, and I am someone who needs constant reminders of how to stay in the moment, breath, and be grateful. With this miracle though, it is easier. Obviously there will be challenges and hard moments ahead, but today, these days, I get to be pregnant, and that makes me feel like the impossible is possible if only the right amount of effort, time, patience, diligence, support, and faith are dug up from the core of this earth and laid to rest on the heart.
“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.”
It's a girl.
(Can't you see the Husband's nose? Swoon.)
All my love,