(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.