Monday, February 7, 2011

Back and Forth

I suppose there comes a time in every woman's life when she tries to figure out if she wants children or not.  Call it what you want -- biological time clock ticking away, influence of friends and family, society's standards and so on -- but I can almost guarantee that just about every female has, at some point, thought about having a baby (or NOT having a baby).
Personally, I've gone back and forth on the subject.  I never really thought much about it when I was young, but once married life came around, it obviously came up from time to time.  As friends started having families, it was even more of a subject to think about.  I went through a period when I was so turned off by all the women around me who could only talk about their pregnancies and babies and cycles and strollers and sleep patterns (too much information, always) that I started wondering if I even wanted to have babies.  I went back and forth, making a pros and cons list in my head ("would have more money/free time if we didn't have kids... but how can you justify wanting more time to yourself versus having a family?")
A year or so later, I became pregnant (surprise!), and then miscarried.  After that, it was "all baby, all the time".  I wanted a child so badly it physically hurt.  I got to the point that I didn't want to hear about anyone being pregnant, didn't want to see any cute infants in strollers, and certainly didn't want to hear my mom say, over and over, "It will happen, honey.  It's all part of God's plan."
That almost sent me over the deep end.
After a few months of sort-of-trying for a baby and having zero success, I have to say I'm veering away from my phase of baby-mania.  I can't tell you why... is it hormones?  Is it my inner instinct to try to protect myself from another emotional letdown?  I have no idea.  All I can say is that while I'm still okay with being a mom someday, I don't have that same burning desire I did a few months ago.  Do other people experience this?  How do they cope with the ups and downs of the process?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Moving Forward... or Are We?

So now that you know my background, and where my husband and I are going with this crazy situation called "trying for a baby", I have to update you as to where we stand now.
One of the best things about the first pregnancy was the surprise factor.  It was a total, complete surprise, and that made it so incredible... I can't even explain.  I'm sure those of you out there who have experienced it can understand.  There was no counting days until missed periods, no "trying" on certain days.  It wasn't a chore, it just ... happened!  Obviously, there are downsides of this.  I wasn't taking the proper care of my body to prepare it for pregnancy.  But I figured if I could somehow toe the line in terms of caffeine and alcohol consumption, take a prenatal vitamin daily, AND not think about dates and expectations, we'd have the perfect surprise.
But life is never perfect.
So as hard as I tried not to do the math game in my head, counting out weeks and days, it happened involuntarily.  It's not like it's calculus... just simple addition!  So when my expected ovulation time rolled around, I knew.  And my husband did not.  I was torn... should I take my chances?  Let him know?  This was not working out as I thought it would.  (Yes, I know.  That's life.  But come on!)
So I decided against telling him, because I really wanted to try to make it work without turning into that-couple-that's-trying-to-have-a-baby and making sex a chore, a duty.  And timing just didn't work out, because I definitely didn't get pregnant that month. 
Fast forward to the next month.  I caved and told him.  I wanted to actually "try" this time around, at least as much as possible without going to the extreme.  So, we did... and for the remaining two weeks until my monthly visitor, I was CONVINCED.  I tricked my brain into feeling pregnancy symptoms.  Feeling nauseous?  Of course, that has to be morning sickness!  Cramps?  No, those couldn't be the period kind...
Except, they were.  To be even more cruel, I was a few days late, but two tests later, it was obvious that this hadn't been the magic month.
Which leaves both husband and I with the feeling of desperation that I'm sure so many couples experience.  What's wrong with us?  Why didn't it happen?  It should have happened -- there were multiple opportunities.
It was so easy before.


I had never given much thought to having a baby until the fall of 2010.
My husband, Cole, and I had been married a little over two years.  He was in school, I held down a full-time job, and we enjoyed our life -- we had a dog, a house, two cats, and freedom to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.  It wasn't exactly blissful, but it was pretty great.
Then, one day, everything changed.  I realized that my period was late, but when I actually looked at a calendar and counted out the days to figure out that I was a little more than a week late... well, then I got worried.  It wasn't a good time for a baby.  We didn't have the financial resources, and Cole wouldn't be done with school for another year and a few months.
Of course, I started to panic.  And like most girls do when they're afraid... I called my mom.
I bawled on the phone to her, I'll admit it.  I was so scared -- what would we do?  We wouldn't have any money.  I couldn't quit my job, so I'd have to find daycare.  I hated the thought of putting my child in daycare, and now I would be forced to do it.  Not to mention that we couldn't afford childcare of any sort, let alone the quality kind.  All of these thoughts bombarded my brain, turning my stomach into a series of knots that I couldn't untwist.  I told my husband my suspicions.  To give him credit, he didn't flip out.  He looked a little pale, and a lot worried, but he said first, "Are you sure?"  To which, of course, I didn't have an answer.  Everything at this point was based on suspicion rather than fact.  He said we wouldn't think about it until it was for sure.
Which lasted about ten minutes.  I drove to Walgreen's and bought a test.  The fancy kind, the EPT digital one, just because I wanted to know for sure, and I thought that the higher quality test might be more likely to give me the answer I wanted.  I was in a quandary about where to take the stupid thing to actually do the testing portion -- I didn't want to just pull over into any random store or gas station, but I was too far from home to stand the entire commute.  I settled on Barnes and Noble... one of my favorite stores, for sure, and with a higher-quality restroom than a gas station.
I locked the stall door to get the test done.  I prayed with my eyes clenched shut as it processed.  When I opened them, it already had a message waiting for me.
I felt like every pregnancy hormone in my body rushed into action at that very moment.  I sobbed, wracking my entire body, because I was just so damn scared.  And hopeful.  And maybe even a little excited, all at once, too many emotions for me to handle.
I collected myself as much as I could and left the store.  On my way out, I stopped in the pregnancy section to pick up What To Expect When You're Expecting and You: Having a Baby.  I needed all the help I could get.  I also bought some of my most beloved childhood books, because at this point I realized that this tiny mass of cells inside me would someday be a baby, and I wanted nothing more than to read to my baby.  Irrational?  A little.  But books have always been my haven, my refuge and escape, so to turn to books during my emotional upheaval was a pretty predictable action.
I now faced up to the facts.  I was roughly five and a half weeks pregnant, meaning that I should have already started taking better care of myself.  I hadn't been.  We had just gone to the bar the night before, and while I didn't get drunk, I most certainly had a beer or two.  I was drinking a triple espresso drink daily from Starbucks.  I most definitely was not taking vitamins, let alone the prenatal type, and I hadn't been to the gym in ages.  I resolved myself not to think about all that, because it was in the past, and all I could do at this point was start behaving more appropriately.
I cried so much that afternoon that I'm amazed I had any tears left.
I still had to tell Cole.  That was going to be tough.  Although I wasn't sure what his reaction would be, I was somewhat wary.  We were not by any means trying to have a baby, so this was a true surprise.  I wanted to make the moment that I told him special, though.  Somehow I sensed that it would be momentous -- the day our lives changed forever.  I went to the store and bought the world's tiniest Ohio State onesie (and a T-shirt for Cole, just because), and decided to go meet Cole as he was leaving school.  I sat on a bench, waiting for him, and when he came out, gave him his gift -- and the baby's first item of clothing.
It was like a moment frozen in time.  He looked at it, then looked at me, and of course, I started bawling again.  I'll never forget his reaction.  He gave me the biggest, tightest hug, as if he could tell how scared I was and wanted to make everything okay.  He smiled, and I said, "We're having a baby!" between sobs.  For some reason, it really hit home at that moment.  We were going to have a family.  A little tiny person would be totally dependent upon us for everything, and it was up to us to raise him or her.  We were diving into this headfirst without being able to see the bottom, but it was happening, and there was no stopping it.
The next few days were a whirlwind.  We had a lot of changes to make, and drastically.  I called my doctor and took care of all of the necessary details, while suffering an incredible caffeine withdrawal headache.  I felt different already, and I was already used to the idea of having a baby.  Less than 24 hours had passed and we had run through the gamut of emotions: scared, anxious, hopeful, excited.
I didn't want to tell a lot of people yet because it was so early, but I was too excited to hold back from telling everyone.  Certain family members got filled in, and of course my mom and I talked multiple times per day.  She asked how I was feeling (great), if I was sick yet (nope), having weird cravings (also no), etc.  She was as excited as Cole and I, and it was feeling as though things were falling into place.
It's amazing what can change in a week.  One. Week.
That's all the time I had to ride the emotional rollercoaster that I was on.  Because one week to the day after I took that test, I went to the bathroom, and there was red.  Everywhere.  My baby was not to be.
It was like a nightmare.  I staggered into my bed, sobbing, feeling as if the world had dropped out from under my feet.  I know sometimes they say this happens, that it turns out okay, but somewhere deep inside me I know: my baby was gone.
I felt like every doubt and uncertainty I had ever had about being pregnant was coming back to get me.  Every sip of alcohol, every drop of caffeine, every vitamin I hadn't taken when I should have been nurturing my baby into growth.  And now it was gone, and while I could do research to learn that it was probably meant to be, it was probably better that it had ended, and it was probably not anything I had done or not done, it HURT.
I had plans for that baby.  He or she was going to be born in May, springtime, a time for renewal and growth and new life, the perfect time of year to have a baby.  We were going to be surprised about the gender, seeing as this baby had been our life's biggest surprise already, might as well leave that facet unexpected as well.  I had visions of Christmastime spent with family while I had a cute baby belly, and buying maternity clothes and decorating a nursery and most of all, having a precious little baby.
And since I had told so few people that I was pregnant in the first place, I had few people to lean on for support.  I just wanted to talk about it.  I hated the term "miscarriage".  It sounded like a made-up term, something that isn't as serious as it felt.
I cried for days, it felt like.  I functioned normally at work, with my friends and coworkers, but I fell apart when I was alone.  Some of it, I'm sure, was the hormones raging inside me.  The rest was just sadness.  I couldn't get the image of me cradling a perfect little baby out of my head.  It hurt to think about, and was even worse to think that I had only been aware of this little being for one week.  It just doesn't take much time to fall in love.
The sadness faded for both my husband and I.  We stopped crying at random moments, and went on with our lives.  We kept busy, of course, and focused on other things.  Having a baby became a topic that neither of us wanted to face.
But now, taking a deep breath, we might be ready to jump headfirst again...