Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I am not pregnant.

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I'm still nursing in the middle of the night, so it's no surprise that my cycle hasn't returned to normal. Why am I even thinking about being pregnant? My youngest is barely 3 months old! The thick sleepless fog that descends upon those first few postpartum months has not yet erased from my memory the discomfort (to put it mildly) of being pregnant. I have three wonderful children now, and while we are open to the idea of having another, we're not actively trying. So why did I take a test, secretly hoping it would be positive?

Let me rewind to 1999. I got married that year. Young and idealistic as we were, several months into our marriage we decided to throw caution to the wind. I stopped taking birth control pills and waited with nervous excitement for that first positive pregnancy test. That first month I didn't have a period. I remember sitting in our little bathroom, analyzing and over-analyzing, in every lighting situation, every water mark that could possibly be a positive result. But it wasn't positive, I had just not ovulated that month. The next month the same thing happened. Then another. Then another. 10 anovulatory months and countless pregnancy tests later, I finally had my first post-pill period.

One period a year. This was not going as planned.

We were not in a place financially where we could do all the fancy infertility treatments, so we decided to just go it alone. 4 years and every Robitussin, Fertility Friend, internet test strip, temp chart, message board, folic acid, baby aspirin, and liquid vitex (that one actually worked to bring on ovulation) remedy in the homeopathic textbook later, we were still not pregnant.

I looked down at my stomach and cried. Why wasn't I working? What was wrong with me? My doctor had no answers.

Then, one November day, something happened for the first time ever in my life. I had in my hands a positive pregnancy test. I started quivering and my eyes stung from the coming tears. I couldn't stop smiling! My husband was in the next room, typing away on the computer. I composed myself, put my hand on his shoulder, and nonchalantly suggested that we go out to dinner that night. There, in the restaurant, I told him the good news. He was visibly shaken, in a good way. Neither of us ate much, and everyone else in the restaurant must have known that something major was happening to us.

We decided to tell our parents the good news in the form of a Christmas present. I sat there, in my mom's condo with my brothers and sisters scattered around the room, waiting for my mom to open the present that would reveal our secret. I felt uneasy for some reason. She opened the box containing a bib that said 'World's Greatest Grandma', realized what it meant, and started crying. I started crying, too. My mom knew how long we had been struggling with infertility and it meant so much to her to know that we were finally successful.

However, my uneasy feeling got worse. I realized as I was sitting there on the couch discussing pregnancy with my excited family that it was more than just a feeling--I was cramping. Nervously, I excused myself, went into the bathroom, and discovered that I was spotting as well. I cried a second time that night, with the knowledge that the bleeding probably meant I was miscarrying. I didn't have the heart to tell my mom 'just kidding' right after giving her such good news. I pulled my feelings in, walked out of the bathroom, and pretended like everything was ok for the rest of the night.

A miracle happened the next day. There, lying on the exam table with my firefighter standing at my side, we saw the little heartbeat that showed a precious life still flickering away. Surrounding this tiny being was a sea of blood that showed up as a circle of thick white haze on the ultrasound. The doctor told us we had a 50/50 chance of miscarrying.

One evening two weeks later, I was relaxing in the tub when I again felt uneasy. I looked down to see the water quickly turning red. I was shaking so forcibly that I could barely make it out of the bath and into bed. I called my firefighter, who was working a shift as an EMT at that time, prayed hard, and cried myself to sleep. Amazingly, we got another glimpse of our peanut the next day, alive and well. I had a third bleeding episode a few weeks after that. Again, we went into the doctor's office fearing the worst, and came out with another picture of our little fighter.

Here is her journey, from peanut to person:

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After my oldest was born, it did something to my body and I was able to ovulate every other month instead of only once or twice a year. It was still work to get my next two children here, but nothing like that first pregnancy.

After so many years of trying to conceive, I don't think I'll ever be able to turn off the feeling of disappointment when looking at a negative pregnancy test. These days, however, the feeling is short-lived. I am sad for a moment, but then hear my two year old saying 'uh-oh' in the other room, and it's back to reality--back to being mom. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be called mom!

18 comments:

pandora said...

she's absolutely adorable! such beautiful eyes too! what an touching post :o)

Katie said...

Thanks, Pandora! :) She really was a stunning baby, from the very beginning. Of course, I'm a little biased. ;) I gasped the first time I saw her after she was born.

Melissa said...

Beautiful story Katie, and I have always loved this picture of your little girl.

Katie said...

Thanks, Melissa! I think our board had more than our fair share of abnormally cute children that year. :)

mom said...

As you know, Katie, I didn't have much trouble starting pregnancies, but I still was quite disappointed whenever the test said "no" and happily happy when someone was on the way here. I'm SO glad that your first time worked out so beautifully after such a difficult, long wait!! Very fun photos!

glutenfree4goofs said...

Ah, you brought me to tears and I don't cry! Hehe! What a beautiful miracle of a baby! You are blessed beyond measure!
Jessie at Blog Schmog

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

My sister experiences this every month. She longs to have another child, yet I don't think she is ovulating. I am there for her when she cries and pray for her to be able to concieve again. She has had two children (praise the Lord).

It is a beautiful picture! I love that you are open to having more children despite the pain of disappointment.

Joel and Holly said...

Katie,
after reading your blog it made me wonder about the many same things I'm still facing. After almost 10 years of marriage my husband still has not graduated from college and we don't have that lovely house yet....but, I know after reading your blog there is hope for us still. It's amazing how your writing in spires people you should be a writer. I'm soo glad you had the opportunity to have your family. I hope will all my trial and tribulations I face each day knowing I won't be able to give my son a brother or sister that there is light and the end of a dark tunnel and will be able to adopt like I've been wanting for seven years. I was told seven years ago after having my son and living with a bleeding dissorder that I was going to have to have a hysterectomy to save my life. That did a number on me and still does to this day but your stories give me hope and enspire me to hold on just a little longer and something good will come out of what I've faced.

Thanks Katie
your friend Holly Christiansen Sine

Fire Wife Katie said...

Hi Holly, thanks for stopping by! Hang in there, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. In the mean time, enjoy the lights at your side, walking down the tunnel with you. :)

Jenny C said...

What an absolutely amazing story! and a beautiful baby.

Stacy Kaye said...

Thanks for putting this in your About Me...it was a good intro to you. We have sort of similar stories, in that it took us three years to get our first miracle...after two miscarriages. The getting pregnant is not the hard part, it's the staying pregnant. Every day I see my son I thank God for him! I recently experienced another miscarriage...not looking good in our hopes for a second baby, but reading this post gave me hope!

Fire Wife Katie said...

Stacy Kaye, wishing the best for you and your family! I hope that another little miracle is in your near future!

Cristina said...

I just got home from the hospital yesterday because of spotting. I'm just five weeks along and the jelly bean is too little to have a heartbeat yet. But we're hoping and praying. It's been ten years since my first baby and it's like learning everything all over again. Even though it is a hard topic to talk about it is also comforting to know we can reach out and know others who know the same feelings too.

Fire Wife Katie said...

Cristina... I just read your blog post. :*( Thinking of you, and keeping you in my prayers!

jadenotjaded said...

what a very sweet post..gave me goose-bumps to see that beautiful baby!

Rachel said...

She is gorgeous! I'll admit my heart was in my throat as I read this... I know how hard infertility is.

So thankful for your little miracles!

Tracey Axnick said...

Hi Katie... new to your blog, and first of all, thanks for visiting MY blog!
LOVED this post... hit home with me, because my husband and I went through MUCH of the same struggle to get pregnant. Interestingly, our first "positive" test also happened in the late Fall and I broke the wonderful news to family & friends at Christmas that year. Also interestingly, we had a very difficult time, and our first child (our son) was born very very early. He's a happy and healthy 14 year old now, but life in the NICU was very rough.
I think when it takes you awhile to get pregnant, and then when you go through difficulties, you realize how very precious life is, and you really treasure motherhood even moreso than you would otherwise. (And, also, like you, after my first pregnancy, my body seemed to have "fixed" itself... because we had a SURPRISE pregnancy just 9 months after our son was born... crazy how things work out...)

You have a beautiful family - congratulations!

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