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…)