Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hurdles & Hope

Not sure how to start this one... so I will just dive in...
You should know that I wrote this about a week ago.  That the outcome was not what we had hoped for.  That although things didn't turn out as we had wanted, we are all doing fine.  Staying focused on all that we do have, ever-grateful for our village of friends & family who want only the best for us.  I had no idea before this year that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Makes it that much more of a miracle that any of us were ever born.  I also find it strangely comforting that I am very much not alone in this experience. 


I see them all laid out in front of me.  A line of hurdles, all in a neat row, the metal bars ready for the challenge.  This is how I see pregnancy now.  A series of challenges to overcome, of hurdles to clear.  The first one is getting pregnant.  Check.  Found out just after Thanksgiving.  The funny part is that even though we have now been trying for a year, I was certain that I did not ovulate that month.  The monitor never showed it, my body never gave me the usual signs.  So when my period was nowhere in sight on its due date, I was actually surprised.  Even more so when the faint line showed up.  And then a darker one the next day.  A moment of celebration, brief & fleeting before the seeds of worry start sprouting.  After two miscarriages earlier this year, we are all too familiar with how often things can go wrong.  How mother nature works her mysterious ways.  How there is nothing you can do, or not do, to change the outcome.

Hurdle two is staying pregnant.  Made it to six weeks for the first visit to the doctor.  Ultrasound showed nothing at first, then a sac & a possible bean.  Both the doctor & I thought that maybe, just maybe, we saw a little flicker of a heartbeat.  But it was too elusive to be sure.  Too fleeting to know that it wasn’t a shared hallucination fueled by Hope.  So we wait a week.  A long seven days that stretch out much longer than the 168 hours they contain.  Every ache & pain & what-if causing the time to tick by in a series of emotional highs & lows, peaks & valleys that make a rollercoaster look steady and sure.

Hurdle three is seeing that heartbeat.  That little “blink blink blink” that tells you things are as they should be.  That reassuring little flash that means you just might make it a bit further down the track.  So many things must come together for that little heart to start up & do its job.  Seeing it working means there is life, potential, Hope.

Hurdle four would be the CVS.  We went through this when pregnant with Remy.  Knowing that this time, we needed to KNOW what we were facing.  The surprise of Quinn’s Down Syndrome rocked our world so deeply.  Even though we now cannot imagine having him any other way than exactly as he is, the thought of facing such a surprise again is unfathomable.  There is so little that we actually control in this life.  Holding on to those moments of having control, control over knowledge at least, becomes so very important.  So, we choose CVS, done around 11 weeks, so we might know.  What happens next remains a mystery, but knowing what we are facing is essential. 

Hurdle five and beyond is staying healthy & growing that little bean into an actual person.  Making it through the weeks, the 20-week ultrasound where they look for heart defects & other potential worries, the gestational diabetes screening, other blood tests.  It is finding ways to still get rest while chasing after two monkey boys & carrying around an ever-expanding abdomen.  Feeling the first movements, kicks & rolls, that let you know somebody is really in there.  These hurdles actually get easier, closer together, leaping over them more quickly as the weeks go on.

Then there is the final one.  Birth.  The one you don’t even think about until it is right in front of you, otherwise no one would ever agree to do it.  Thankful for modern medicine & epidurals, I am one of those people who actually feels comforted in a hospital setting.  I cannot imagine giving birth at home or in a field or anywhere outside of the familiar sterility of a hospital.  Maybe it is from spending so much time in the hospital growing up… waiting for my Dad to finish rounds or check on a patient… some of the best people watching ever.  I know, I’m weird that way.  But I have always thought how cool it is for the doctors & nurses who get to be there for so many different births. To see people on what most would consider the most important day of their lives, to experience it with them.  For the fleeting moment that I considered pursuing medicine, I was certain that I would choose to follow my Dad’s path and be a baby-catcher.  My acumen, or lack thereof, for all things science quickly put a damper on that dream.  But as a woman at least I get to experience it myself.

Today I sit, somewhere over hurdle #2, waiting in mid-air for my appointment tomorrow.  In just 24-1/2 hours (but who’s counting!?!) I will know if I am out of the race or about to clear hurdle #3.  The pendulum inside my brain swinging wildly between certainty & doubt.  Baby, no baby.  Full, empty.  Praying, hoping, wishing with all my might to see that beautiful little blink blink blink on the ultrasound. Hope is a fickle friend.  You need her, she gets you through some rough patches, but she also is the one who sets you up for heartbreak.  Am currently clinging tightly to her close cousin, Faith.  Now she never lets you down… as long as you keep believing in her.  Hugging my boys a bit tighter, enjoying more games of build & destroy towers and reading endless books as two little bodies curl up close on either side… makes the waiting a lot more bearable.


Ann said...

Thank you for sharing this. I too have faced that line of hurdles and crashed into a devastating one at 20 weeks. It was my first pregnancy prior to Nathan. It was a loss I thought I'd never survive. So many women have experienced the pain of miscarriage but few talk about it.

Ann said...

I can't seem to type the right thing. I wanted to add that I'm so sorry that the outcome wasn't what you hoped for. ((hugs))

Barb said...

Oh Katie, I'm so sorry. I feel like a complainer now, after sharing the story of our mishap with you. Lets all hope 2011 brings better things our way. Hugs to all of you.

Patrick McMillan said...

Wow. Katie and William. We're so sorry but know that you'll eventually produce another stunningly beautiful child to match the first two. We'll keep our fingers crossed for you. Wishing you love and luck in the new year.

Speaking of gorgeous I love all of your photos. And, Katie, you should be a writer. Really.
Patrick & Anne