That can't be right. How could that be right? After a missed period and some pretty crazy nausea, I'd finally decided to take a home pregnancy test. And, then I took another, and another, and another. They all told me the same thing: I was pregnant. After I scrutinized the little plus sign, scoffed at the double pink line, and cried over one or two that seemed to have one line lighter than the other, my faithful fiancé went out and bought me a digital test.
"Pregnant," is what it said. But, how? I was infertile. I'd accepted it. I'd been angry, I'd been sad, I'd tried terrible medications and searched for solutions, and finally I mourned and accepted that my body couldn't do something it was supposed to be able to do. I bled, I lost, I heard the phrase, "we can't find any sign of the baby now." But, somehow I was pregnant. A string of good life and health choices had led me here, to being able to conceive. Still, I couldn't fully believe it, especially not so early on. There had been previous pregnancies, unviable and short-lived, but they too showed me double pink lines and little blue plus signs. So, I saved my joy. After all, my fertility problems were diagnosed and confirmed by multiple Dr's; my ovaries couldn't produce proper eggs, things in there simply didn't work correctly. It seemed impossible that I could finally be having my rainbow baby.
So, I waited. I held my joy back and expected the worst.
I didn't call the Dr. right away, I figured it would only make it harder. I'd only have to call back in a week or two when the cramping and bleeding started and I didn't want any false hope in the meantime. Every morning when I woke up I'd pull the covers back, expecting it to be time; expecting blood on my sheets or that tell-tale cramping in my lower abdomen. I looked through forums online dedicated to infertility, PCOS, and miscarriage, trying to prepare myself to go through it again. Finally, Matt insisted it was time for me to see the Dr. I'd been putting it off for weeks, and my morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms were strengthening by the day. He was eager to get a test done by the Dr. and to figure out what our next move was. I never told him that I was waiting for the pregnancy to end, that I didn't expect that there would be any moving forward. He was SO happy when I'd told him I was pregnant, and even though I'd warned him that it might not last, it didn't stop his joy or optimism.
I went to a women's clinic near our apartment and had a test done there. I walked out an hour later with a positive test, a letter verifying pregnancy, a whole slew of pamphlets about healthy pregnancy, and a little bag that contained tiny blue hand-knit booties made by the clinic's volunteers. A few days later I called an OB's office and made a proper appointment, and a week and a half later Matt and I were sitting in an exam room talking with nurse practitioner about our family histories and my history of fertility problems, PCOS, and miscarriage. After a quick examination and a urine sample, I was sent home with a bag full of baby magazines, pamphlets, and coupons with another appointment scheduled for a week later. The next appointment would be the time they finally checked out the baby. I only half expected to even make it to that appointment. Every time I peed I'd expect to see blood, and every morning my first thought was, "Is it happening?"
Don't get me wrong, I wanted kids, and I wanted to be pregnant with my rainbow baby, but I was afraid. I was afraid of another short, painful pregnancy and I was afraid of dealing with my body betraying me again. I was afraid of having to face that I'd created a little life, only for it to vanish as quickly as it had been made. I was afraid of having to tell Matt that what he was hoping for wasn't going to happen, that I still couldn't give him a baby. I was afraid that if I allowed myself even the tiniest sliver of hope that it would break me down when the time finally came and the baby was gone.
When we began to pass milestones, I'd hoped that I'd start to feel better.
The first time we heard the baby's heartbeat, the first ultrasound, the end of the first trimester and what is considered the most delicate time for a pregnancy. I had hoped that it would put my mind at ease when my Dr's told me everything was perfect, that I was past when most miscarriages occurred. But, despite their reassurance that the odds of something going wrong had dropped to less than 1% as I sailed into the second trimester, my fear didn't cease-it got stronger. We had ultrasound pictures of this tiny little person, barely human-looking, but beautiful all the same and all I could think was, "How will I live if I lose this baby after all of this? How will I move on?" My previous pregnancies had ended in the first trimester, early on, before there'd been much time to see and listen to the baby. Those losses had been devastating, and the mere thought of a loss later on in the pregnancy crippled me with fear.
The second trimester brought on a lot of changes and preparation. We announced the pregnancy, even though part of me was hesitant to do so. We found a new, bigger place to live; a house closer to Matt's job that had a fenced-in yard and two bedrooms instead of just one. After we moved in I'd imagine what I'd turn the second bedroom into if the pregnancy ended, I wondered if I'd even want to use it at all. I had Matt fill that second bedroom with all of our storage boxes and extra stuff, instead of prepping it to become a nursery. I couldn't prep a room I may have to take apart. As we moved through the second trimester, friends and family would ask us how the nursery was coming and what we'd bought to prepare, and we would give them vague answers like, "Oh, it's coming along." Or "We're getting there."
After week 20 we had our anatomy ultrasound and found out that my rainbow baby is a little boy, and that he was perfect. His brain, his bones, his organs, his whole little body was growing exactly as it should be-nothing looked abnormal and no problems could be detected anywhere. His heart had 4 chambers that beat at just the right rate, and his bones were straight and solid with no holes or curves in the wrong places. Most of my pregnancy had been like this; Dr's telling me that the baby and I were perfectly healthy, delighting in being able to give a patient 100% good news. Matt told me it was because I was so healthy, I'd worked so hard to become as healthy as I was and this was the result. And, though I understood that and mostly believed it, it didn't stop that little voice in my head and the fear that seemed to never fully go away. Sometimes I wondered if my Dr's were simply wrong. Maybe they'd missed something? Maybe there was something terribly wrong they hadn't seen? Maybe my pregnancy was too easy? Why wasn't I experiencing more complications? Late at night I'd lay awake, wondering, dreading, and making my head spin with worry.
In the middle of the second trimester we decided on a name: Aaron. Not long after that, our families started planning my baby shower and what baby things we'd need bought for the house. Still, I left the second bedroom in our house filled with boxes, and when everyone else started calling our baby by his name, I had a hard time following suit. More often than not I'd find myself still saying, "the baby" instead of "Aaron." I just couldn't imagine having to pack up his room, having his name forever cause me pain. I already loved him with all of my heart, I just couldn't fathom adding more weight to that love with a name, a room, the reality of him.
For so long, as he grew, so did my fears.
I held my breath at every Dr's appointment until I heard the reassuring thump-thump of his heart. Every examination or ultrasound was filled with anxiety, and any minor squint of my Dr's eyes or furrowing of a nurse's brow caused my mind to go reeling with potential problems they could be detecting.
After 8 Months...
It took me eight months to start getting past all of this. Eight months of carrying him inside me, feeling him grow and kick; nurturing him and being one with him as he formed. After eight months, a baby shower, and endless nights lying awake and crying over a loss I hadn't even suffered, I finally started to let myself accept and love my rainbow baby fully. Getting to that point was hard, and it took a lot of work to get there. I had to convince myself to let go of the fear I'd been holding onto the past 8 months, I had to let myself believe that we really would be having a baby soon. I had to decide to accept that, even though there's always the potential for something to go wrong-whether your child is still inside you or is years older, allowing myself to love him fully without that fear nagging at me and dragging me down was not only worth it, but the best thing for me, him, Matt and our family as a whole. How could I welcome my son into the world properly if I was still holding onto that fear? How could I love him fully if I still had trouble accepting his existence, all because I felt I couldn't handle the pain of loss if something went wrong?
The truth is, nobody is ever ready for that pain or loss. The bond we form with our children, unborn or otherwise, is like nothing else in the world and so the pain of losing that is like nothing else in the world. But, that doesn't mean we should live our lives in fear. What I've learned through all this is: It's okay to be afraid, and having experienced previous losses is likely to leave you wary. But, it's also okay to let go of that fear and allow yourself the courage to fully love your child if and when you are blessed with one.
Am I still afraid sometimes? Yes. With just two short weeks to go before my rainbow baby's arrival, sometimes I still find myself thinking, "What if…?" Sometimes I still look at his nursery, now fully put together, as a potential source of unimaginable pain, but I don't let those fears consume me. I don't let those fears cripple me and stop me from enjoying the amazing experience of having this little baby boy living inside me, preparing to come out and join our family.
So, here's to the miracle of pregnancy; here's to the ability to create life-especially if you weren't previously able to or have experienced previous losses. Allow yourself to be afraid, but remember to allow yourself to love and experience the miracle you've found yourself a part of as well. Though it took me nearly my entire pregnancy to get to this place, I'm so glad I eventually did, because I wouldn't trade the joy I have allowed myself to experience for anything in the world."The darkest nights produce the brightest stars."
For my son, Aaron, my miracle-my bright star after a long darkness.