Monthly Archives: July 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Identity shift

This has been a milestone week for me.  I am now 16 weeks along and baby beans is growing big and strong.  I also have been going to bed at night without injecting myself in the leg.  Another milestone.  I’ve been injecting myself (or subjecting myself to John’s injections) for about 4 months now.  In all, I’ve had approximately 120 shots during my IVF and first trimester journey.  And now?  I’m your run-of-the-mill pregnant woman.  I just take my prenatal vitamins and various supplements in the morning and watch my belly grow.  It’s very strange to me.
Back when we first started trying to conceive (in June of 2009), I had very little indication that we would have any trouble.  And getting pregnant just 4 months later confirmed that belief.  Even when we lost the baby, I took solace in the fact that we had been “successful” with relative ease.  Surely the next pregnancy would come quickly.  However, a year after that first pregnancy began, my illusions of being “like everyone else” ended as I made the first phone call to our reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doc).
Suddenly, the girl who dreamed of a beautiful, natural birth with a midwife was swept away by a wave of intense diagnostic testing and discussions of medical interventions.  The me who wanted to follow a more holistic path was overtaken by the desperate woman who would subject herself to any invasion, no matter the cost, in order to have a chance at being a mother.  Despite an encouraging diagnosis and positive prognosis, I began to see myself as a medical “problem.”  And I saw my body as broken – or worse, gone rogue.  I put myself in the hands of a medical team I was hopeful could “fix” me.
Even after our first round of IVF was successful, I was hesitant to let go of my mistrust of my body.  I operated with a sense of fear, just waiting for it to let me down again.  The process of accepting my reality was a slow one (and sometimes I still have my doubts).  But each passing week built my confidence and each doctor’s appointment gave me hope.  This one’s a keeper.
Just last week we met with a specialist because I needed to know from an expert just how high-risk this pregnancy is and how much care I would need both prenatally and during labor and delivery.  Do you know what she said?  I’m fine.  I need nothing more than any other pregnant woman.  I am good to go.  She even gave me her blessing to switch to a midwife for my care.  Imagine that – my identity has come full circle and here I am, having a natural birth with a midwife again.
I think what this has taught me is not to cling too tightly to my identity, and to know that it will shift and change with changing circumstances.  But to also have hope that what I want most, and who I want to be, is never completely out of reach.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cousin twins

Today is a meaningful day for me.  Despite my current state, I still mark the grief of this anniversary…

My nieces and nephews are the lights of my life.  Honestly, when I am feeling low, the only sure thing that will bring me comfort is playing make-believe with my 3 year old niece, or cuddling my newborn nephews.  All six of them are truly precious to me.  But my 1-year-old Godson represents something special to me.  And he always will be a living reminder of what might have been.
My sister and I were keeping close tabs on each other when I first started trying to conceive.  I was ready to start my family, and she was ready for her second child.  We laughed about how fun it would be to be pregnant together.  And when I told her I was, we realized that we had the same LMP (last menstrual period).  A few days later, we found out that she was pregnant, too.  Our due date was July 9th, 2010.
That first month was full of excitement as we dreamed about the “cousin twins.”  We hoped for girls, who would be best friends.  We talked about what it would be like when the babies arrived, imagining being up late at night, nursing our newborns and talking on the phone.  We announced to our family that “we” were expecting.  It was quite literally a dream come true.
Unfortunately, that dream ended abruptly and painfully for me.  At 7 weeks, I went in for my first official prenatal visit, and discovered that our baby’s heart was no longer beating.  My pregnancy was over.  I remember thinking that it just couldn’t be.  The blessing of sharing a due date with my sister and best friend had to be more than a coincidence.  It had to be meant to be.  I held firmly to that belief until I could no longer deny the truth.  There would be no cousin twins.
The following months were painful and precarious.  My sister’s belly continued to grow.  And every time I saw her, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “that’s what I would look like now.”  Every ultrasound picture displayed on the fridge marked a milestone that I missed.  And hearing her mention her due date when asked brought a lump to my throat.  My sister, of course, was gracious and loving and selfless throughout this journey.  She was careful of my feelings and discreet about her pregnancy, which neither of us wanted her to have to be. 
The thing that was most difficult for me during her pregnancy and my sister-in-law’s subsequent pregnancy (as I continued to not get pregnant) was the frustration of not being able to be 100% happy.  Of course, I loved them and their babies more than anything.  And I certainly believed that they deserved the joy of motherhood.  But there was always a nagging in the back of my mind, always tears just below the surface.  Why didn’t I deserve this too?  I hated being reserved during such a happy time – that’s not who I am.
I was relieved to find that feeling somewhat guarded did not carry over when the baby was born.  My nephew stole my heart that very first day and possesses it still now.  He brings me more delight than I ever could have expected, and I know that no matter what, he was meant to be.