Tag Archives: pregnancy

Pregnant.

(Written exactly one month ago, on September 19th 2017)

I am pregnant.

After feeling the movement for almost six weeks and being filled with amazement and joy and fear that it is simply a delusion born of my own unrelenting desire to experience this again. After confessing my worry to my doctor and having her give me the same reassuring words my midwife shared almost six years before, “That’s your maternal instinct.” After hearing a heartbeat, twice. After five ultrasounds. After 10 weeks of nausea that is still lingering. After receiving three phone calls from three separate offices to let me know that my blood work came back fine and we were having a girl. After spending six weeks not exercising and being told to rest after each call to the doctor to update them on more bleeding. After seeing a little baby that was all beating heart. After weeping into the shower as blood poured down my legs and being certain that it was over. After the first twinge of nausea that brought utter delight. After the second beta that was over 900 and feeling too excited to not burst out with the news to a student. After the first beta that I got to take four days before I thought I could and hearing back that it was over 200. After progesterone suppositories and estrogen pills I had to take three times a day for almost 14 weeks. After watching Frasier for 30 minutes after the IUI the Sunday before Memorial Day. After laying still and listening to guided meditation after the IUI the Friday before that. After I started to consider IVF because I could not shake the hope of having a baby. After my doctor told me that she would let us do one more IUI before we needed to move on to IVF. After our doctor said we were “basically unexplained” and seeming perplexed by our failures. After crying every month for eight months on the day I learned my body told me no. After 11 shots and countless prescription pills and learning to inject myself through fear and bruises. After Ubiquinol. After meditation. After acupuncture. After Chinese herbs. After Tibetan massage. After avoiding caffeine and alcohol and sugar and dairy. After a failed IUI the week of spring break. After getting the final call that no birth family chose us, and our agency opted us out of an opportunity to be considered for twins because they miscounted the number of rooms in our home. After the adoption agency told us that there were now three potential birth families and asked if we would we consider staying on the books and my certainty that the timing of this call the day after our first failed IUI was a sign that we would have our placement. After a failed IUI the week of Thanksgiving. After realizing that I wanted to try science after all. After thinking that I could not throw myself into the extra training to transition to a state adoption without a break. After realizing I could not stomach the risk of trying infant adoption with another agency. After learning that our adoption agency would no longer continue with their domestic infant adoption program. After getting another phone call that the birth family did not want to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After being told there was another birth family that would see our profile. After surgery. After diagnostic tests. After thyroid medication. After D3. After four case workers. After getting the call that the birth family did not want to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After Leila asked me, “When are we going to get our baby?” and I had to tell her that it may not happen. After we learned that we had yet to be considered because no prospective birth family wanted to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After learning we were paper pregnant after an application process that took 12 months. After an exhaustive home study. After two fire safety inspections because we did not have the commercial grade fire extinguisher. After an invasive application process that forced us to share credit reports and tax statements and answer five separate questions about our sex life. After a single visit to a fertility doctor. After meeting with a nutritionist and taking a daily dose of a dozen supplements. After the first try of acupuncture. After four years of trying to grow our family.

I did not want to share our pregnancy with anyone. The moment I received the call about our second beta numbers, I blurted the news to a student. I could not contain my excitement. For four years I dreamed about sharing the news. And when I had the news I was terrified. It felt safe with me. I knew every step of these past four years. I knew how wildly miraculous and mercilessly fragile this pregnancy was. A hemorrhage at six weeks that precluded travel forced us to share the news with our parents. And I certainly would not let Leila come second, and so we shared with her. And my dad told my brother, and so we shared with our siblings. And still I kept the information close to my heart. I worried about breaking Leila’s. And not sharing the news would have robbed her of any joy, as we certainly would be open if there were any loss. I have been curious at my own reluctance. At the way I always cushion the announcement with my hesitancy. At first I thought it was to protect myself from losing this baby girl. I realized it was to protect myself. But not from my personal loss. My attachment was cemented when the nurse first called with my numbers, and it grew exponentially the second I saw that beating heart when I was sure there would be nothing. Even as my waist expanded and the questions came, I wanted to keep it to myself.

I wanted to protect myself from other’s expectations. I wanted to protect myself from other’s discomfort. I wanted to protect myself from sharing beyond anyone I knew could sit with me whatever road this pregnancy took.

I wanted to wait and wait and wait and wait.

I wanted to only share when there was a baby in my arms.

But nothing is certain.

And impulse to protect myself was robbing me of experiencing this pregnancy, this baby, without qualifications. My natural, maternal fear of loss mutated into a paralyzing fear that the prospect of having to comfort and explain such a loss to others.

With Leila I can experience uninhibited happiness. To squeal over the smallness of baby clothes. To buy more. To imagine what life would be like to snuggle this new person, so small and loved.

I am learning to let it go. I have this exhausting sense of justice that compels me to want to qualify every announcement.

A girl in Target asked me what I was having. I paused, shocked. And then I looked down at my belly and back up at her. “A girl,” I said.

I still tell people it took time and science and lots of plans. I think that is important. But it has a place. Not everyone will get this. Most people won’t. It’s too painful to sit with others in their darkness. To empathize. To understand that the only separating you from another’s tragedy is some amalgam of genetics, environment, and good luck.

As I got my blood drawn the woman responded to my story with, “You’re going to get pregnant again!”

That anecdote. That fairy tale. That story I have heard so many times. The different versions. The imposition of something that happened to them onto me.

My story cannot stand alone in the world. Every time I share it will morph as it hits the ears, an inevitable game of telephone where the translation is lost the second it leaves our lips.

And so I might as well say it. I might as well give myself a chance to tell the story.

I am pregnant.

(Still) Not Pregnant

Still Not Pregnant

Every month I find my toilet paper stained pink. I have no need to wait for it, let alone hope it will finally not come. It arrives with timing so precise I wonder that the same body seems incapable of so much else. For the past year we have received emails and phone calls and texts from our rotating cast of caseworkers telling us there is this situation and then nothing until the possibilities have dwindled into nonexistence. The birth families do not want to look at an adoptive family with a biological child.

Most days I forget we are waiting. I have Ben and Leila and Wrigley and the store and yoga and all of the other things that fill in the cracks of my time. How could I even fit the sweet, long days of newborn life into these days? I sometimes wonder this to myself, more as a consolation than a question. I keep my parameters to help me continue to forget. You cannot want what you do not see. Like longing for a unicorn. It’s just foolish. My imagination is dulled by these habituated unconscious protections.

Then one Sunday I have a conversation with a friend and we discuss our only children and her definitiveness of their family situation is intoxicating after years of unknown. And after class a friend and student marvels at my daughter and declares how much she loves only children. She shares about her status as one and her unwavering decision to continue the pattern.

I start to wonder if this is a whisper I should listen to, to wonder if it could possibly be an accident. When I think about it, my heart cannot grasp at accepting our family’s completeness. At what point do I acknowledge that and quietly shutter up these windows we have kept open for over three years?

But I have wondered if that is what the birth families are seeing in us. Something already finished.

Leila’s heart is still open. When I share news of her classmate’s adopted brother or gather her baby things for the upcoming birth of her cousin’s little sister or as I prepare a meal to take to friends that just welcomed a son through adoption, her face lights up and she asks, “When will we get our baby?” And my heart breaks. Because she is saying the words I’m not brave enough to ask. And I tell her that we just don’t know. And maybe we will get a baby and maybe we won’t.

And then a friend with tenderness and empathy gently shares about being an only child. And how nice it is. And I tell her about these whispers. And I wonder again at what we are doing.

I question how long is too long to wait, because I am still not pregnant, and our crib is still littered with all the discarded things from our home. And I wonder if the universe is whispering. Because they tell us to wait, that it will happen in God’s timing. I don’t quite grasp how a human can dilute and diminish God into timing and certainty of things to come.

And so I sit with the discomfort and grief and emptiness in a house that is full.

PS I’ve written before about my reactions to our secondary infertility here and here and our adoption experience here.

(Not) Not Pregnant

This is not the point in which I type out that I am pregnant. This is the point in which I no longer feel not pregnant even though I am not pregnant.

If I were to pinpoint a time when this shift began, I would tell you at some point after 2 pm on Tuesday, June 17th. We met with a fertility specialist that, long story short, told us to have sex on such-and-such days, buy the ovulation kit with a smiley face and head down to the lab to test my AMH levels. Afterward Ben and I went to Elevation burger, and as I ate my cheese-free, lettuce-wrapped, grass-fed burger I told him I could not do it anymore. I just could not keep trying. And so I quit acupuncture and quit taking my basal body temperature every morning and quit tracking my cervical mucus and gave Ben two months of peeing on a stick to see if we could get the smiley face nod followed by a plus sign a couple weeks later. And over the course of those two months we got the nod once and a plus sign never and I quit taking my supplements and I started keeping the parts of my diet shift that made me feel better and let go of the rest.

I think some of it is time and choosing to grieve and I think some of it is yoga and reconnecting to my body in a way that is appreciative and nonjudgmental and healing and I think a lot of it is God, though that is part of a mystery beyond my vocabulary and comprehension.

I feel peace. I was tired of fighting my body. That is what it felt like, like our bodies were saying no, and I was trying to peacefully protest my womb into submission. And so even something as benign and noninvasive as Clomid seems like a step down a rabbit hole I have no intention of entering. It is a wonderful option, just not for us, not right now.

I still have acute moments of feeling not pregnant, but they are fleeting and grow farther and farther apart. I feel it at the beginning of yoga class when the instructor asks if anyone is pregnant and for a moment it’s as if there’s a giant spotlight on my barren uterus. I feel a brief fluttering sometimes when I run across an image of maternity clothes. And I feel it when we hear about another pregnancy.

I worried I would feel jealous. I haven’t. As Ben so eloquently articulated it, I feel left out. Like I didn’t get picked for a kickball team or there is no room for me at the lunchroom table or I am the only person standing against the cafeteria wall that hasn’t been asked to dance. It is this incredible vulnerability of my youth – fresh and raw and open and resilient, both lonely and hopeful at once.

I would love to attribute my lack of jealously to some beautiful reflection of my character. It is much more simple. I would love to be pregnant. I do not need to be pregnant. Pregnancy, labor and birth are one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, but they are not the only amazing experiences.

I am careful not to qualify or undermine my infertility with “just” or “at least” in order to sit in gratitude. I have learned that gratitude and grief can coexist and after time the chasm between the two narrows and sometimes overlaps. When I think about pregnancy, I am both grateful and grieved not to be experiencing it.