My Life in Fear and Hope
How I count and recount the incredible journey to my son Daniel
There are two new permanent parts of my life that I celebrate together: my 8-month-old son and the scar on my hand that I got six weeks after I conceived him. Together, they are indelible reminders of the yearlong journey I took to get to where I am today.
My life in numbers
10 months and four failed rounds of fertility treatments
10 visits to the fertility clinic per round
Countless 5 a.m. wake ups to be the first patient there
3 lines per appointment (blood work, ultrasound, doctor consult)
More than 15 books read while waiting
1 demanding full-time job
90 minutes of tardiness getting to work after each visit
2 weeks of limbo after each treatment waiting to find out if it worked
3 eggs developing
2 eggs developing
5 eggs developing
1 egg developing
3 "I'm sorry's" over the phone, one in person
2 brilliant ideas: one to try acupuncture and another to work with a life coach
Countless tears swallowed and shed
My life in feelings
I felt hurt that nothing was working and confused about why.
I felt a lot of ridiculously dramatic (yet valid) emotions that could be described with adjectives like "bitter," "cheated," "hormonal," and "jealous."
I felt very sad.
I felt trapped in an absurd and kind of bizarro world that made the act of conceiving the conventional way seem too simple to make any sense.
I felt complete and total fear that I was never going to get pregnant again.
My life in disappointment
While I was living all of those numbers and feelings, success became an obsession. Why? Because of our 3-year-old and the unmatched happiness he brings us. We wanted more of that for him, for us. We didn't want him to be an only child like we are.
On round five, our home pregnancy test was positive. My efforts had paid off! Cause and effect were restored, and life made sense again. I allowed the usually superstitious and always anxious side of me to be done with fear. I celebrated by not couching the "when he comes" statements with the caveat "if everything is okay." My fear quota was maxed out, and I never once considered that something else could go wrong.
So I was blindsided at my 7-week appointment when the ultrasound technician handed me a sonogram of the baby and said "talk to the doctor." (Here's another number: the two agonizing hours I had to wait before meeting with the doctor who told me the baby was not developing properly.)
In that moment, I learned how unreal it feels to be confronted with your worst-case scenario and have your heart crushed. Then there was one more week of the worst kind of limbo filled with recurring Google searches on "slow fetal development week 7" and conversations about miracles, and four days of missed work to grieve the inevitable. At my next visit, zero sonogram pictures were given. Add one miscarriage to the inventory and fast forward to December.
My life in pain
In December I was one lucky girl – pregnant again – and feeling so incredibly thankful, anxious, protective, and uncertain. I injected myself with blood thinners to prevent clotting and possible miscarriage, and, on Friday the 13th, I made my way through a terrible snowstorm for my 8-week checkup. On the way, I slipped and broke my hand.
The following hours were awful: hard-driving snow, a swollen hand, lots of tears and cold sweat, three different hospitals (to find one that treated hands), and the paralyzing fear that the fall had hurt the baby. But we learned that the baby was doing well. And that I would need surgery.
Then still more things I feared would hurt the baby: X-rays, skipping the blood thinner on surgery day, painkillers, and anesthesia. I have a pretty high pain threshold, so I decided to have regional anesthesia rather than being knocked out. But it hurt so much during the operation that I did strange things like trying to tear off my nylon hospital hat. All I could think was, "I'm going to give myself a miscarriage if it continues to hurt this bad." And then it was over. I experienced a high from the sudden lack of pain, and the recovery room felt like heaven. My scar was born.
My life in miracles
In the weeks ahead I observed two evolutions: the increasing return of movement to my fingers and the increasingly urgent kicks I felt as I tracked my son's fetal development. Daniel was born in August. It hurt so much that I tried to tear off my nylon hospital hat.
As I write this story down, my son is sitting on my lap, and his tiny, very sharp nails are digging into my scar. It hurts, and I marvel at how happy this pain makes me. It feels so unreal to look at the scar and the baby together, this visual representation of fear of loss and a time of uncertainty next to incredible gain. They are intricately tied together. And it feels like such an incredible victory.