A Pregnant Pause: Weeks 5-8: Letter to Baby.

As promised, the letter to Baby:

December 22, 2014

Hi Little One,

I’m writing to you now from the middle seat of an airplane. It’s loud and dry in here, and the gentleman to my left is leaning quite heavily on my arm. But he seems to need the rest, so I’m letting it go.

It’s three days before Christmas, and your Daddy and I are taking a trip we never planned or wanted to take. Your Grandpa John is sick. He’s in the hospital, and we’re going to see him, to make sure we get the chance at least one more time. I’ll be honest, sweet girl–Mommy has been less than selfless about this. I’m disappointed not to be with our Washington family. We were looking forward to telling them all about YOU. They will be so excited to hear that you’re on your way. The disappointment will pass though, and you’ll get your big moment! By the way, as your Dad just pointed out, I realize that I’m pretty convinced that you’re a baby girl. If you turn out not to be, please accept my apologies and know that I’m crazy about you either way. I’ll buy you Seahawks tickets to make up for it–deal?

Anyway, as you’ll learn when you fall in love someday, my own disappointment has been easily overshadowed because someone I love is hurting. Actually, lots of someones. My heart is broken for your Daddy, but there’s nothing I can do to take his pain away. I can only hold him through it. And as much as I’m worried about him, I’m also worried about you. I’m worried that all of this travel and stress and well, worry will hurt you. I worry that being far away from home will make it harder for me to take care of you.

Yet somehow, in all of my crazy worrying, it’s like God’s giving us both a hug. Like somehow your sweet little beating heart is slowing mine down a bit.

In the 8 weeks that you and I have been together, it’s become clearer and clearer to me how much being your mom will require me to trust God. Because really kiddo, from this point on, I can only do what I can do. Right now, I can only limit my caffeine intake, skip the margaritas, and avoid skydiving. I can get my 60 grams of protein and 60-80 ounces of water. But after that, all I can do is pray. As much as I wish there was, there is nothing I can do now to guarantee that you’ll be safe.

The same will be true when you’re a toddler, or a fourth grader. When you’re a teenager and when you’re an adult. I can feed you, clothe you, shelter you, and comfort you. I can sing you songs, and Daddy and I can make you laugh and tell you our stories. We can teach you and caution you and prepare you. But we can never fully guarantee that you’ll be safe and protected.

We’re sure going to try, though.

But ultimately, it’s not us who will keep you safe. My love, before you were our child, and eternally after our time with you–you were and will be a child of God. Just like your Dad, just like me. Just like your great-grandmas and great-grandpas up in Heaven. Just like your Grandpa John.

Kiddo, thank you for the reminder. It’s awfully nice having you for company. Thank you for reminding me that all of us, including myself, can only do what we can–what we know is right to do. Sometimes it’s taking prenatal vitamins and naps. Sometimes it’s booking a flight four hours before it leaves to say what you need to say. Sometimes it’s just recognizing that you haven’t the faintest idea what to do, and that’s okay.

I don’t know what’s going to happen today, or tomorrow. But I’m grateful for every moment God has given me, and will give me, as your Mama. You are the sweetest gift.

I love you,

Mommy

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A Pregnant Pause, weeks 5-8: Anxious.

Sharing our news with all three of my parents was as awesome as I expected it to be.  We told my dad at brunch the morning after our return from Michigan. He looked at me, then over to Ryan, then back to me. “So….we’re pregnant?” he asked.

Well, no, Dad. I’m pregnant, but okay.

He told a table full of complete strangers that he was going to be a grandpa on the way out, clearly thrilled about his upcoming promotion.

We went out to dinner that night with my mom and stepdad, and as we sat down, they asked questions like, “Who wants a cocktail?” and “How about the seared ahi appetizer?” Ryan and I glanced at each other knowing that if I chose a. Not to have a drink and b. Not to eat some of my favorite foods at a dinner celebrating my birthday, the jig would be up before we could get to sharing our news. So between ordering our drinks (I told the server I’d have to think about my order for a few minutes) and the arrival of the bread, we spilled it. My incredibly stunned mother asked once or twice if we were serious, as though we may be pulling some elaborate prank. We assured her that no, we weren’t kidding, she was going to be a grandma. More hugs, more tears.

In all of that celebrating and answering of questions, I found myself prefacing every sentence with, “If everything checks out okay” or “If things go well at our first appointment.” I wasn’t ready to relax into the excitement just yet. I’d read too many blogs, heard too many sad stories.  Some of the closest people in the world to me had seen positive pregnancy tests turn into heartbreak, and my guard was up.

It continued to be over the next few weeks, as the fatigue and vague nausea set in, and the very sight of my refrigerator caused me to dry heave every morning, to say nothing of the dreaded “refrigerator smell”. I shared the news with a few more close friends, asking for their prayers and support while we awaited our first midwife appointment.  I was convinced from December 1 when I made the appointment that December 19 would never come. Each day was roughly 47 hours long, and every trip to the bathroom was an adventure involving toilet paper inspection, “just in case”.  My sweet husband kept telling me that this pregnancy was a blessing, and I knew he was right. So many sweet and deserving couples struggle to conceive, and we had been so fortunate. But my overactive imagination seemed to win, constantly. I have always been an anxious person, a worrier. In fact, I’ve spent a few hours in counseling addressing that very problem, but it had never wreaked such havoc as it did in the early days of this pregnancy.

Wonder of wonders, December 19 came. I was a complete disaster, feeling every emotion under the sun, but fear seemed to prevail over all. I was utterly convinced that we’d be getting bad news, and imagined having to share that bad news with all of those who’d so unabashedly celebrated with us just a few weeks earlier. On the examination table, I squeezed Ryan’s hand while the midwife squeezed gel into my belly and then positioned her magic wand. There was what seemed to be an interminable silence as she searched (in reality, it was likely about 9 seconds) and then finally pointed at the screen.

“Here we go. There’s your baby. And there….is the heartbeat.”

The heartbeat. The very words I’d been waiting to hear. Relief filled me in a way I can’t explain, knowing that while this baby’s survival was in no way guaranteed, we had passed our first big milestone. The midwife wiped my skin, and then confirmed that the baby (or rather, the uterus) was growing as it should. Congratulations, she said, and that was that.

I could have skipped out of there. I called my parents while we waited for our Papa Murphy’s pizza. I immediately posted the ultrasound photo of our little jellybean onto the fridge. Just knowing he/she was real and there was actually something in there eased my worries, at least for the moment.

Of course, life holds things for us that we don’t anticipate. On our way to our appointment earlier that night, my mother-in-law had called.

“Dad isn’t feeling well,” she’d said.” I’m going to take him to the hospital.”

Of course we were worried. You never want someone you love to be in the hospital. But over the course of his illness, my father-in-law had been in and out of the hospital many times. He’d always beaten whatever issue had come his way. We were sure he’d be home in a few days.  Over the course of the weekend, the updates we received weren’t positive. On Saturday night, we told Ryan’s sister, who’d been by his side vigilantly, to call us if she felt like we should come. No, she told us. Not yet. We did a little internet searching for flights, just in case. Sunday night we went to bed praying, hoping the morning would bring better news.

Instead, the morning brought a text from my sister-in-law, telling us we should probably be headed that way. Ryan booked our flight and a rental car, while I called my office and my mom. It was December 22nd. We were preparing to spend Christmas with my family, where we’d tell them our big surprise. Our Christmas tree was beautifully lit in our family room, but we hadn’t even had time to put a single gift under it. I was absolutely crushed with disappointment for the Christmas we wouldn’t have, but at the same time didn’t think twice about hopping a plane with my person. It was one of those moments that brings marriage into perfectly clear focus, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. My selfish desire to be home with my family, carrying out MY traditions was wiped out with one look at him. HE is the one building this life and new traditions with me. HE is my family. HE is my home.

Despite knowing the trip was the absolute right call, I sat on the plane feeling completely overwhelmed. So much felt out my hands and too far from my control. Anxiety over the stress of the situation, over how it might affect our baby was making me a bit of a basket case. Only true spastics stress about their stress. And there, 5 miles above the ground, I realized I should just write it down. So I wrote our baby a letter.

(To be continued in the next post…)

A Pregnant Pause: The Beginning.

As some of you may know, I’m a bit behind on chronicling my pregnancy. So I’ll be attempting, to the best of my recollection, to recount each stage. Below is the start of our story, leading up to the Big Fat Positive! Note/warning: I mention my period quite a few times here. If that offends you, well, sorry.

Toward the end of November, we flew to my husband’s hometown in Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with his family. It had only been 4 weeks since our return from our European adventure, and about two weeks past the first cycle in which we were “trying”. Or “Not Preventing”, as we called it, but let’s face it: once you’ve determined you’re “trying”…you’re trying.  In my ever-present hypochondria and anticipation of the future, I’d determined that my “sort of weird” period the month before necessitated a pregnancy test. When it was negative, I sort of shrugged and left the second test in the box. As I packed for our trip to Michigan, I thought about that test, stuffed in my underwear drawer where Ryan wouldn’t see it and call me crazy for taking a pregnancy test AFTER getting my period. I thought about stashing it next to the supply of tampons I’d already packed, but decided against it. No one gets pregnant the first time around, I thought. Why waste the suitcase space?

So we arrived in Michigan on Saturday, November 22nd, the expected date of my period. We settled in with Ryan’s family—being in that house with them is one of my favorite things, ever. There’s a toddler or two underfoot at all times, and a sweet and rambunctious 5-year-old nephew with toys and markers and empty milk cups strewn about the living room. There’s someone sleeping on every available bed/couch, and while it can get a little crazy, the craziness is a comfort to me, 98% of the time. On that Saturday though, the littles hadn’t arrived yet, so things were relatively uneventful. No toddlers or toys underfoot, and no period, to boot.

No matter, I thought—these things don’t always follow my schedule. This month is just a longer cycle. Sunday brought a dinner with friends and their sweet babies, but still no monthly visitor. When the conversation that night turned to us, and when we might be starting our family, I couldn’t help but think, “Maybe?”

Monday.

Two days overdue, but not particularly convinced just yet. I think this is when I texted my two best friends who were in the know on our “trying” status, just to alert them that the jury was still out on the state of my uterus. Ryan and I went out for a date at Buffalo Wild Wings that night, a new practice we’ve adapted every time we’re visiting family for extended periods—it maintains our sanity and keeps us connected when there are far more distractions than we’d find at home. We found ourselves on the “when we have kids” topic, and as I sipped my Diet Coke and licked buffalo seasoning off my fingers (so hot) I mentioned that it could be sooner than we think. We determined that two days late was unusual but not unheard of, and we’d just wait it out.

Tuesday.

My sweet mother in law surprised me with an early birthday gift—an 80 minute massage! I was completely elated. I love a good massage, and getting to spend some one-on-one time with her. As I glanced over the paperwork at the spa, my eyes landed on the question: Are you pregnant?

Well, crap.

I mulled it over for a moment before discreetly writing in, “Maybe?”  In the privacy of the treatment room, Monica the massage therapist looked over my form and then up at me.

“You might be pregnant?”

“Yep! Not sure yet. I mean, probably not, but we just don’t know…I’ll know in a couple of days!”

She proceeded to tell me that they don’t give massages to women in their first trimester for liability reasons. So I panicked and called my husband, terrified that if I went through with the massage I could hurt our maybe-baby, but canceling something his mom had so generously gifted to me because I’d miscalculated when my period was due seemed ridiculous, too. He calmed me down, assuring me that this was just the spa making sure they wouldn’t get sued, and chances are everything was fine. So I enjoyed my massage, but returned to the house and my husband with a heightened sense of “This could be happening!”

Wednesday.

Now four days late, we both determined that something could very well be up. Though I couldn’t have known for sure yet, I think deep down I felt it anyway. Though Ryan was all for “waiting till we get home” to test (THREE DAYS LATER) I insisted that no, tomorrow morning was the time. We went to the local Meijer (which is essentially the Midwest version of Fred Meyer, for all of you unfamiliar PNW folks) to pick up some things for Thanksgiving dinner. While he picked up the groceries, I ventured to the pharmacy. Full disclosure, I’ve purchased pregnancy tests before. I knew which brand I wanted, and was pleasantly surprised to find the 3-pack on sale. Yet as I stood there, regarding the pink box, I started shaking. Something deep inside me kept insisting that this time was different. My very interested friends texted again, “Well?” We’ll know tomorrow, I said.

Thursday, November 27. Thanksgiving Day.

Ryan has a tradition of going disc-golfing with his brother and brother-in-law when we’re in Michigan, and they had planned their outing for that morning. They were departing at 7am, so at 6:15 we were both awake. I sat up in bed after a relatively sleepless night. He was getting dressed, all layered up for the chilly morning outside, and asked me if I just wanted to wait until tomorrow. Uh, no, I don’t. We’re doing this now. Ever the supportive husband, he followed me into my in-laws’ master bathroom (they generously give us their room when we’re in town) while I executed my duties. It was dark outside as I capped the test and set it on the edge of the bathtub to settle in for the wait. Neither of us took our eyes off of it, and watched the control line appear. Then, a few seconds later, a fainter second line popped up. I stared at it, and then looked up at him. And back and forth like that for a minute, from the test to my rather stunned husband until one of us said out loud, “Well, that looks like a second line.”

BFP 11-27-14

“Alright, wow” and “So, okay” was all I can remember getting out at first. We’re having a baby. The rest of the house, the rest of the world, it seemed, was still asleep. So we didn’t scream or jump up and down. I didn’t sob hysterically like I thought I might. I got a little teary eyed and squeezed my husband, feeling blessed and scared and incredulous, all at once. It had worked. It was happening.

Eventually, Ryan had to leave. We weren’t quite ready to tell the family our big news, so he kissed me goodbye and told me to go back to sleep. I know, I know–LOL,Hubs! I spent the next hour wide awake and on my phone, calculating my due date and reading all about what was happening inside my body at a whopping four weeks pregnant. By 8am when I ventured downstairs, I was already versed on what I could and couldn’t eat, and how big my baby was. The size of a poppy seed, by the way.

It may have been the longest two hours of my life, being one of two (well, three, if you count the Poppy Seed) living souls aware of my pregnancy. I have the worst poker face in the world, and news, good or bad, is difficult for me to keep to myself.  My sweet friends had both texted, up early on the west coast, knowing that I was testing that morning. Keeping them in suspense was particularly challenging as I waited for Ryan to get back. When he finally returned, we agreed to tell his family that day. We determined that this was our family, and we wanted their support during this pregnancy, even if something should go wrong. So before we told the group, we brought his sister into the bedroom, and had her close her eyes. I told her we had a question. When she opened her eyes, I presented her with my pee stick (charming) and asked, “Is this a second line?”

“OH MY GOSH!! YES! I KNEW IT!!!” she squealed. More hugs and happy tears.  With her experienced eyes confirming that no, we hadn’t imagined that second line, we gathered the family and shared our news.  Looking back on that day, on that trip, I’m so grateful for the blessing of being able to tell them in person. Once we’d shared the news with family, I was also able to call my patiently waiting friends and celebrate with aunties Natalie and Lindsay, respectively.

We spent the next two days basking in our excitement, though I’d already begun to feel the anxiety that comes with the many incarnations of “what if?” My gratitude to God for blessing us with pregnancy was honest and profound, but in the back of my mind, it didn’t feel quite real. As we drove to the airport with Ryan’s parents, his dad told us they would come to visit when the baby was born. His health had been questionable earlier last year, but he seemed to be on the rebound. He told us how our news had made the holiday so perfect, and he was so excited for us.

After opting out of the x-ray machine at the airport with some trepidation (“I’m pregnant”, I’d whispered to the female TSA agent. “CONGRATULATIONS, HONEY!” was her booming reply) we boarded our flight home. As always, sad to leave our family, but knowing there was more excitement to come.

Next up: Telling MY parents.