Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The One Question I Will Never Ask Anyone...

One of the first questions I was asked after the Hubs and I got engaged was when we were planning on having kids. At that point, I was like "whoaaa, give me some time there," and that was exactly how I felt. The first few months of our marriage, we had fun being selfish; we enjoyed treating ourselves once and awhile and going on dates every so often. After "living poor" while we were engaged (we saved $20,000 over a year to pay for our wedding), we had fun being able to splurge a little.

Initially we had planned to wait a year before having kids. Whenever someone would bring up the question, we'd brush it off because we simply weren't in that mindset yet. Then something happened. I don't think either of us could tell you what exactly it was, but a few months after our wedding, we were ready. So off the pill I went. We both told ourselves we weren't "trying" yet-we just weren't preventing either. I think we both needed that just in case nothing happened; it's ok, we're not really trying anyway.

And nothing did happen. So we started "trying" for real. And still nothing happened. I bought the at-home ovulation tests, the prenatal vitamins. I resumed my pre-wedding workouts and went back to eating healthier. And still, nada.

I probably should point out, I had always been irregular. I could go months without that wonderful monthly visitor. While initially, my teenaged self thought for sure it meant I was pregnant (never mind that I hadn't actually had sex, #catholiceducation), as I matured I came to the conclusion that this wasn't actually a bad thing- who enjoys this monthly experience anyway??

However, at this time in my life all I wanted was to be normal. Because of this, I had to take a pregnancy test every single month- I wasn't getting a period anyway, maybe this month it will be the real deal. I was so not going to be one of those women on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Every single month, heartache and failure. It got to the point I wouldn't even tell the Hubs I took a test-he'd just see the package in the trash and know we didn't get the desired outcome.

I don't know if I can put into words how painful this all was for me. It seemed like everyone I knew was getting pregnant and having babies. We were now at our one year anniversary, the time we initially told ourselves we were going to start trying. Halloween was a killer, it being our first year in a house having trick-or-treaters. After we turned the porch light off, I broke down and cried. It just wasn't fair.

I didn't understand. I felt like growing up, as a teenager, and with TV shows like Teen Mom, you hear stories of women forgetting to take their pill one day and getting pregnant. I had been off for months, why nothing? We so badly wanted a baby and yet others who did not were being given the life I wanted.

I was miserable. This, combined with a stressful work environment (I still had the job I took solely as a means to pay for our wedding), and being so far from friends and family...I gave up. It was completely bitter, I didn't fully accept what was happening, I just felt like for whatever reason I didn't get to have the kind of life I wanted.

As the weeks and months went by, I started accepting it. Maybe it wasn't happening now because I was meant to do other things-quit my job, pursue my Master's Degree...basically do whatever I thought would make me happy. At this point, the Hubs had joined the Guard, providing him with an outlet from the pressures of his job (it takes a special person to whom the military is an escape from pressure!) so dangit, now it was my turn!

I started investing time into working out a plan-finding schools, applying for scholarships, looking for part-time work while I pursued my degree, etc. I was starting to finally get excited about something else.

It was now one year after officially starting to "try"- the time most fertility doctors make you wait before making an appointment with them. We still had not given up on this dream so we made an appointment. But gone were my days of putting all my eggs in one basket- whatever happened I was going to make the best of it.

It was now March. A Friday evening to be exact. The Hubs was getting to leave for his first official drill weekend, meaning I wouldn't see him again until Sunday night. The following week we'd have our first appointment with a fertility specialist. After he left, I decided to take one last test, fully knowing it would be negative. I knew if I went into the appointment not knowing I was 100% NOT pregnant, I'd have that little flicker of hope that the doctor would tell me "Surprise! You don't actually need me!" I didn't want that, I needed to be realistic. So I took the test. Normally, I'd hang around and watch that lonely little line form. This time, I set it on the bathroom counter and went around the house, picking up and doing random chores.

At some point, I remembered I needed to go throw the test away, so I went back upstairs...and there were two lines. Huh?? I thought for sure it was one line that meant negative. So I read the instructions. Twice. Ah well, it was an old test so it probably wasn't accurate anymore. I didn't even allow myself a little bit of hope. I went to the store, grabbed a couple boxes, chugging water the whole time. I took a couple more tests, one brand said "pregnant 1-2 weeks", the other had two lines-the second being so faint, you couldn't see it unless you were looking. I figured I probably wasn't pregnant but I'd take another test in the morning just to be sure.

Needless to say, the test(s) I took in the morning (after NOT chugging a bunch of water) were much more conclusive and convincing. You'd think I'd be happy...and I was, to a point. More than anything, I was scared. Ok so now I was pregnant...surely something will happen. Health problems. Miscarriage. I was scared of being too happy, only to have it taken away.

A couple of days later, the Hubs came home and this happened. We were both so over the moon. Yet the fears didn't go away. A couple of weeks later, I started bleeding. We had to have an early ultrasound to "ensure viability". What a horrible term-viability. Not only did we have to wait a day to have the exam performed, we had to wait another 24 hours for the radiologist to even review it! Everything ultimately was ok but I think we both felt somewhat cheated-our first ultrasound was not a happy experience. And to a lesser point-it didn't even look like a baby at the time!

The weeks went by without any issues (other than such God-awful morning sickness I wouldn't wish upon anybody). I quit my job, needing to remove such a huge amount of stress from my life. We had our second ultrasound-finally time to know if it was a boy or girl! We left that exam feeling elated. Until a few days later, I received a phone call. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you what exactly the nurse said other than "possibility of Down's Syndrome". I was crushed. Not that we would love a baby with DS any less-not at all. I just felt like I had done something wrong.

From what I have cobbled together since then, the main reason the nurse called was because the baby was being so stubborn about not moving during the exam, they didn't have any good views of her spine (we have decided she's stubborn like her mama). So they wanted to perform another exam so they would be able to get those views. The other reason was because there was a bright spot on the baby's bladder which is one indicator of Down's Syndrome. They offered to have me come in later that day for the Quad Screen, which I had initially refused. This would provide us with a probability of the baby having DS, among other diseases. This was designed to put my mind to ease as we would have to wait another month before doing the additional ultrasound.

So I had the blood test and was again told results in 24 hours. The next day right before the office closed, I hadn't heard anything so I called and was told the results had just come in (amazing how that happens right before you call, isn't it?) and there was a next to no chance based upon my age and other genetic factors in my blood that the baby would have DS or any other disease the Quad Screen tests for.

Relief. I didn't do anything wrong. A few weeks later, the additional ultrasound was performed, alleviating any additional concerns as the bright spot had faded.

After all this it has pretty much been smooth sailing. I won't lie and say it's all been pleasant (hello 100 degree summer with no A/C) but the fact that we're only four weeks away from welcoming our baby girl...I didn't think we'd ever get here.

So that is why I will never ask someone when they are planning on having kids. Maybe they were planning having them a year ago...and they can't.

We'll see after this little girl is here how long it takes before we are asked when we are having another...because we honestly don't know. I don't know if I can go through everything again. Or if I want to. Or if I'll even be physically able to. We don't know what our future holds so I think we'll just enjoy our present.

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