Monday was a day of reminscing for me. It was also Faolan's 4th birthday. Throughout the day my thoughts kept drifting back 4 years to the day he was born. "They've started Pitocin", "Mom and Dad are here now," "I'm trying the shower thing," etc. All day my mind was half way between what was going on at home and what was happening 4 years previously. It was a quiet day at home, we had his friends party on Saturday and family party on Sunday. I kept looking at this busy boy and just enjoying his every existance.
It started a long time ago. 1989 to be precise. We carefully discussed it, and began trying for our family. A few months in we got a positive on a home test. Which turned out to either be a chemical pregnancy, or a false positive. It was heartbreaking, but we persisted. We started infertility treatments in 1990-1991. The stress mounted and we finally decided to take a break. Life went on, and around 1997 we decided to try again. More testing, more consultations, more specialists and more negative tests. We ended up at the point where we were running out of funds and the next steps were the ones that lead to higher order multiples (more than 3.) For a variety of reasons, we decided to stop treatments again.
Life moves on, and over the years it was a constant thought in the back of my mind. The ache of wanting our own child never went away. I won't drag you through the dark times of infertility, but they were there. Several things happened, and in 2005, I decided it was enough. My 2006 New Years Resolution was to let it go. We had a new business and a good life. It was time to stop mourning about what wasn't going to be, and get on with life. I did so many things for myself and our marriage that year. I ate better, a lot better and my system normalized. I was thrilled. I spent more time with Gino, we threw ourselves in to our store. I started bellydancing tapes with a friend.
Then in October things got a bit crazy. We started the month with a friends wedding. About a week or so later another friend had a baby (I've been back up labor coach for all three children, and we were both really surprised when I almost passed out when she got her epidural) the following week my maternal Grandmother's brother and her sister passed away within 24 hours of each other. A trip out of town for two funerals on two days, sleeping on a friends couch. I came home to find out that my Dad's Aunt and one of his cousins had both passed away. October wasn't done with us yet though, and the following week we got a phone call that Gino's dad was in the hospital and wasn't doing well. We spent the last 10 days of October and the first week of November traveling back and forth between St Cloud and Grand Rapids. It was a lot of time in the car, and a lot of fast food. I was disappointed in myself, but felt it was understandable when my system was once again out of whack. I was exhausted, and spent much of November going to bed early and fighting to stay awake at work. In early December I ended up with a case of stomach flu that would not go away. But I also had symptoms that things were returning to normal. I did get a bit frustrated as there was a lump in my stomach that made it uncomfortable to sleep in my favorite position, and I was getting up to go to the bathroom all night long.
You know throughout the past 17 years, I've gotten to be an expert in home pregnancy tests. I got to see the technology change. I used them several times a year. Every few months I'd start to think, well maybe.....I could manufacture symptoms at the drop of a hat. So I'd go buy a test, take it, and sit and stare at the test strip. Watching as it did absolutely nothing. 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, all the way through the 10 minutes that they say not to read the test after. They were all an unrelenting blank test. Every time. But they generally resulted in a kick start to my system.
So in the middle of December on one of my trips to the store, I picked up a test. Between my regular job and the store, I didn't have a lot of free time, so I decided to take it at the store. In my rush I thought that I had used the test incorrectly and threw it away without even looking at it. I didn't need ot look really, I knew what a negative test looked like. Nothing happened over the next week, except I kept getting up to go to the bathroom, the lump didn't go away, and I kept getting sick two to three afternoons a week. Generally after I ate Chinese food. To be honest, I blamed it on the restaurant. On one memorable occassion, I threw up three times in the car on the way back to work. It's about 4 blocks. I went home and slept all afternoon. Came back to work and just about thew up when I was drinking my coffee. So late that week, Thursday, I was with friends finishing up my Christmas shopping and I decided that I was going to get another test. It would straighten my head out and my body would settle down.
I went home, went upstairs and used the test. I washed my hands and glanced at it to make sure that the test was working. To my utter shock, not only was the test strip showing, but in the results window was a plus sign. When I say shock, we think I mean it literally. When I got downstairs with the stick my hands were shaking, I was white and cold. Gino knew something was up and asked, all I could do was hand him the stick. He smiled and it was the most amazing and fragile feeling. We'd had a false positive before. So he asked what I wanted to do, and then we went to the store and bought another test. I bought the name brand, not the store brand this time. It was a bit more expensive, but I figured a second brand was a smart move. Again I go upstairs, test, and watch the plus sign appear. I'm ecstatic and terrified as I tell Gino that yes, this one is positive too. We sit on the couch talking for a couple of hours and agree that I'll go in to the doctor to confirm it in the morning. We tried to sleep, but I gave up at about 3:00 a.m. I spent the night on the couch alternating between reading and staring in to space. At one point I decided that really, I was being foolish. It was more likely that they had stored the tests wrong at the store and every test was going to be a positive than my being pregnant. I considered going to a differant store. Only the fact that we were parked in by friends kept me at home.
My boss still laughs and wishes she had a camera for when I came in. I told her what we thought and she asked why I wasn't at the doctor. They weren't open yet, so I had to wait until 8:00 so that I could call. The scheduling lady was very nice, "how can I help you?" "I'd like to come in for a pregnancy test" "is there a reason you suspect that you might be pregnant?" "I took two tests last night and they both came back positive." laughter, "you don't need to come in, you're pregnant" "We've been trying for 17 years and I've had a false positive before, I need to know." "You come right in, we'll get you in." So I did. I went and peed in a cup. "you can go home and the doctor will call with the results." "No, I'm going to wait in the waiting room." "Ok, we'll call you back when we have the results." I go out to the waiting room and barely sit down. "Dawn?" See, I knew it. It couldn't be true, the nurse leads me back. I fully expect to stop just after we pass reception, it's the way it's always done when I go to the doctor for a pregnancy test. She doesn't stop, instead leading me down the hall to some kind of a room. There is a refrigerator there, maybe it's the nurses break room? I think that they've found something else wrong, as if they were testing for something else. "Your tests result came back positive, you are pregnant."
Tears pour down my face as I sink in to a chair. The nurse is concerned as she reaches for kleenex, "is this bad news?" I look up at her in a daze, "we've been trying for 17 years!!" She uses the kleenex for herself, "I love it when I get to give news like this! It's going to make my family's Christmas!" Her family's Christmas! Holy Mackeral, I'm going to get to give my family the best Christmas present ever! Once we are both done crying she asks me if I'd like to schedule my appointments and do the bloodwork now rather than scheduling a separate appointment. Would I? I've been waiting so incredibly long for this. I want it all. I'm an absolute mess as the technician is drawing my blood. She's excited for us as well, "I did your pregnancy test! I've never seen one turn positive so fast." By the time I've gotten up to the scheduler, the entire office knew what was going on. I can't get in to see the doctor until almost the 10th of January, but I can schedule our orientation class. Just before I leave the nurse that told me I was pregnant hands me a peice of paper. "We don't normally do this, but here's a copy of your lab test, I thought in your case, you might need to actually see it later." Oh, she was right. I left the office clutching handfuls of paper, but that lab test was taken out and stared at many times over the next 10 days. "pregnancy test - positive" some of the most beautiful words I had ever seen.
To this day I'm not sure how I drove back to the store. I called my boss and said I wasn't coming back that day. It was the Friday before Christmas and I only work 1/2 days on Friday anyways. By the time I had all the bloodwork done and appointments set, it was almost 11. She was completely understanding and I headed for Gino. It was the most amazing weekend. We called his family, but we were spending Christmas with mine, so I wanted to tell them in person. I went shopping and got a Christmas card "To Grandma and Grandpa" an "What to Expect when You're Expecting" and baby hangers. It seemed a safe enough baby purchase, not too pushy about what kind of expectations we had, and I had no clue what I wanted for a nursery.
The two days from Friday until Sunday (Christmas Eve) were nerve-wracking. I wanted to call my mom, I wanted to drive over, I just wanted to tell! It was everything I wanted it to be, my mom excited, my siblings excited, me crying. We spent the evening calling people to tell them our news. My mom even managed to show up at Christmas morning with baby gifts.
The days until our appointment drug by. I had my doubts every single day. When the doctor's office called with a problem with our bloodwork I was positive that it was a mistake, she was calling to let me know I wasn't really pregnant. She told me that my blood sugars were high and asked if I had eaten or been under any stress that day. I really can't tell you if I ate or not, but I sure was stressed. She said that was probably the issue and she laughed when I asked her if I was still pregnant. That blood test was a sign of things to come. I had gestational diabetes, and I had a pretty strong case. But I was still pregnant. When we got to our appointment and heard the heartbeat, it was amazing. More tears. Dr. Pinkerton did the exam, and then said, "I think we need an ultrasound. There is no way you are only 12 weeks and we need to see how many appointments to schedule" So off we went to the waiting room. We were finally called back and they said that because I hadn't been told to come in with a full bladder, they weren't sure if they'd be able to do an external, but they'd try that first. The put the gel on my stomach, and then the wand, and the tech said, "well! there's your baby." There he was, looking just like a baby, we could see head, arms, legs, feet, hands, I thought I may have seen more, but she didn't linger. She did measurement after measurement and the answer came up, 15 weeks 5 days. I was already out of the first trimester!
Because of complications, it was less than 6 months from the positive tests at home until the day we were holding Faolan in our arms. Life hasn't slowed down either. Every day I see him change and grow. We're more busy than we ever thought that we would be, and we're loving it, every day! My guess is that I'll think of those days every year on his birthday.