When we do life changes we like to go all in. A new job for Chris, a move across country, a new home, a baby on the way. All in the midst of a pandemic.
Oh the plans we make.
The last few months have been… a lot. That’s the only way I can think to describe them. Full of excitement, fear, confusion, joy, anxiety; all the things everyone feels when they look at the little white stick and see a positive sign, I imagine. (Or nine sticks to be exact.) But who’s counting? They’ve also been full of migraines, nausea, and lots of macaroni and cheese. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
One of the many reasons we had to get to Denver was so I could meet my doctor. Given the partial molar from last year, I was in a constant state of fear that I wasn’t actually pregnant, but instead that my hCG was on the rise for other reasons, the scary reasons. I’d had blood work done in Chicago before we left that confirmed I was pregnant, but I wasn’t convinced. I needed to hear that heartbeat to believe it.
On the way to our first appointment here in Denver I was… well, I guess a mess. In my mind this felt like the line in the sand. This is where things went bad last time.
“I can’t do last time again, I can’t do it,” I kept saying as Chris drove us to meet our doctor a few weeks ago.
“This isn’t last time,” he kept responding.
But for some sick reason my mind wanted to replay every single detail of that July morning from last summer. I’d been trying really hard to keep positive, but this first appointment in Denver was particularly difficult.
We got to the waiting room around 11 a.m., about the same time I usually scheduled my blood draws last year. I remembered sitting in the uncomfortable chairs in the lab in Chicago, surrounded by pregnant women, as I waited to get another draw and hoped my numbers were dropping. I’d always happen to glance at my phone and the time would read 11:11 and so I’d make a wish, say a pray, repeat a mantra, I’d do anything a person does when they’re grasping for a little bit of light. I’d hope that cancer wasn’t growing inside of me. That I wouldn’t need another D&C. That I could put all of this behind me soon. That someday I’d be the happy pregnant woman in the chair rather than the woman avoiding eye contact. I hoped and prayed for something better.
As we were called back into the ultrasound room in Denver I was (still am) so grateful Chris could come along. I know a lot of women don’t get to have their partners come to appointments right now and I didn’t realize what a privilege this is until I imagined doing it alone.
We made small talk with the tech and told her a little about my past.
“A partial molar? Those are rare!” She remarked as she got her instruments ready.
I mumbled a response, something I don’t recall now because I was in an anxiety filled daze just trying not to pass out as I huffed and puffed under my mask.
And then we heard it. The thump thump thump of a heartbeat. It was fast and strong and Chris and I looked at each other and let out a sigh of relief I think we’d both been holding in since last July.
“That’s fast, is that normal?” I asked. “Or is that my heartbeat?”
The tech laughed a little, “That’s the baby’s and it’s very normal. Healthy and strong sounding.”
I took it for granted last time. But not this time. I asked her to let us listen over and over. Thump, thump, thump...
“Based on your information and where you’re measuring,” the tech said, “looks like your due date is around November 11th.” She paused and smiled, “11/11, what a great date.”
I wanted to laugh. And cry. And look up and shout THANK YOU! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ve heard that a miscarriage can take away the joy from pregnancy and I understand that a bit, but I also think it adds a whole lot of gratitude. I was very cranky last time and complained about everything. No drinking? Ugh! I can’t have a poke bowl? Or deli meat? And I absolutely hated being sick (okay I still don’t like it) but this time around my attitude is much more along the lines of, “thank you sir, may I have another?!” Because I know what the alternative is. And I’ll take being sick over being heartbroken.
I’ve been so torn about announcing this because while we’re so very excited (and nervous) but also so happy, I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I know what it’s like to monitor social media for women who were as far along as you, who got to continue while you didn’t and it’s a feeling that guts you. It wipes you of your energy and optimism and it seems to pop up from anywhere, all of the time, because people keep having babies. And you want to be happy for them, but you’re also sad for yourself, and sometimes it’s hard for both to coexist.
I wish had something deep and insightful to offer, but I don’t. The only thing I can say is that I know the feeling and I know it eventually gets better. Last year at this time I was pregnant and I didn’t know it. I had no idea what was in store for me in 2019 and how hard it would be, nor could I have guessed how important it would all end up being. So much can change in a year. So so much.
Keep positive, keep hopeful, and keep making those wishes. You never know, someone might actually be listening.
11:11…. make a wish!