Cleaning out the drawers in my desk this morning, I found my diary. I've neglected my poor diary since my children, and my blogs, were born. The last entries relate to my unsuccessful pregnancies. They were all so full of hope. Every single one. And then they end before Hollis. Because by the time I became pregnant with Hollis I was afraid to jinx myself by writing down my hope, by making it real.
In my last post I wrapped everything up with a nice little bow, didn't I?
The truth is, in my rush to get to the happy ending, I left out everything that was messy and indistinct. I left out the parts where I cried. I left out the parts where T became frustrated with my inability to leave our losses behind me and unable to understand my obsession with knowing as much information as possible. I left out the parts where I was hormonal and mercurial and weepy and timid and scared and angry and confident, all at the same time.
It's easier to leave out the mess, isn't it? To state that we had "decided" not to do IVF. To say that a little vacation made it happen. (Is there anything more annoying than hearing that?) In reality, it really wasn't like that at all. It certainly wasn't that easy. It was hard.
Everything was hard.
Sometimes it was hard to get up in the morning, to brush my teeth, to breathe.
Only by looking back through time can I blur the edges of what happened and what I felt and the fear.
Let's talk about the fear.
The cycle that worked? I didn't expect it to work. I just needed to be trying. I needed to have that 2 week wait to look forward to. I measured my life in small conception-related increments. It was my way of taking it day by day. I charted and temped. At the right time, I peed on sticks. I went to the doctor. I started over again.
When I found out I was pregnant in January of 2007 I was not expecting it. Not at all. I'd had the world's longest cycle, coupled with the plane stress, and at that point I wasn't on Clomid or doing injectables. We were flying solo.
My first beta was great. My progesterone was not. It was 13. If you recall from my earlier posts, my doctor liked to see a 20 with the first beta. So I started taking progesterone, even though there is no consensus in the medical community that progesterone actually helps maintain a pregnancy if it's started after a positive pregnancy test. But I took it anyway.
At 7 weeks, we saw a heartbeat.
It was the first time we'd ever seen a beating heart in my belly.
I finally got a grainy black and white ultrasound image to take home.
My heart flipped. Then landed with a thud. The baby was small for its gestational age. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It came in the form of a positive prenatal screen. T was in Florida. My doctor's office called and told me I had to come in that day for an amnio. My test results had given me a 1 in 31 chance of Down Syndrome. I called T and shared the news. We made our decision very quickly. I would have the test.
There is a back story here, but it is one that's not really mine to tell. You see, our nephew has Down Syndrome. Perhaps our decision was made easier by the fact that our nephew, S, is the sweetest most wonderful boy to have blessed the family. Perhaps our decision was made easier by watching K and J with their son, by seeing the love and joy he brought to their lives. Personally, I think our decision was made long before I had a positive AFP. It was made when I held S for the first time and smelled his precious little baby smell.
But why have the amnio if you didn't intend to "terminate," you ask?
Because there are a whole host of complications that usually accompany the birth of such a child. S had to be airlifted to a hospital half way across the state, leaving his terrified parents behind. Even I, 1500 miles away was completely terrified. We weren't going to let that happen. S's parents and doctors had no way of knowing. J's prenatal screening had been negative. But we had the power to know. And so we would.
I had the amnio that afternoon, with a nurse holding my hand for support. Then I drove myself home and slept. And waited an agonizing 10 days for the results.
Everything was fine. We were having a boy.
And for the first time, at 20 weeks, I let myself believe that we were actually having a baby.
Then came the gestational diabetes, the insulin shots, the twice weekly ultrasounds and biophysical profiles, the early disintegration of the placenta, the oligohydramnios, the intra-uterine growth retardation diagnosis and, finally, the emergency c-section. And there I go again, glossing over the fear.
The end result was completely worth it. Every agonizing, wonderful moment.
That's not to say that holding a baby healed all my wounds. It didn't. But the pain, once sharp and green, with time, became blunt and muted blue. An ache in my chest for what might have been, rather than despair for what might not be.
I still think of them, the children that weren't. Their names are written in the back of my diary, written when I was irrationally holding onto hope for each of them.
I watch Hollis and Holden thrusting through life and it's hard to regret my path to motherhood. How could I regret what brought me my boys? But still, I'll never forget.
"What about Holden?" you ask. Holden will get a post all his own....
*Sorry about that bit of gore in the background in the OR picture. I blurred it with Photo Shop, but just try to avoid clicking on the photo to enlarge, m'kay?