Tuesday, January 20, 2009

She's a girl!

Hooray for the passage of time and the arrival of a long-awaited day. We will always remember January 20, 2009 as Inauguration Day and the day that we learned that Peanut was an active, alive little girl. We did not sleep much last night; I spent part of the evening staring into the darkness and wondering if today would be wonderful or tragic.

It was wonderful.

Peanut was not very cooperative for the ultrasound technician Sue--if I didn't know better, I would say that she was trying to escape her squishy confines. As such, it was tough to get a good view of her for very long, and of course she did not take the time to pause for good photos. (OK, I have to come clean here: I was so worried that we would not see Peanut move that I drank a cup of caffeinated tea before we went to the doctor's office. I feel pretty guilty about it, but clearly it worked!)

Anyway, here are some of the photos that we did get. The 3D photos were particularly eerie. I know this is how they look at this age, but I'm still wondering if we're having a Keebler Elf or a Gollum instead of a human child.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Different Child

The last week or so has been difficult for both me and Jon. I have not been feeling well physically, probably due to an exacerbation of my hiatal hernia. But beyond that, I think that we are both anxious for this upcoming Tuesday (January 20) to arrive. We have not seen Peanut in more than six weeks, so who knows whether or not everything is ok. We arrive at every ultrasound with a mixed sense of anticipation and dread, half expecting things to not be ok.

I had a bad day last week when I had to shut my office door and cry, just because so many people in a short period of time had asked for details about how the pregnancy is going. It is clear that I am not doing the update thing as frequently or in as much detail as pregnant women are supposed to. If I were a normal expectant mom, I would eat these requests alive, and I would probably have multitudes of blog entries already. I would be writing about potential name choices, nursery updates, tiny clothing. I would be seeking advice from other moms and comparing notes. It probably seems strange that I am not thrilled to dwell on those details, and I often feel guilty (for the sake of Peanut mainly) that I am not.

But let's face it: everything is contingent--contingent on Peanut living. The names, the clothes, the carefully chosen diet, the sleepless nights trying to find a comfortable position while manipulating a huge belly. Imagine what it would be like to obsess over these wonderful little details, to set everything in order, to prepare so carefully to be the best Mommy possibe...and for it all to be for naught, to come home with empty arms. To stare at all of those stupid little clothes all organized and folded, the baby wipes drying up in their container, the baby music CDs waiting in a pile next to the stereo. For none of it to make an iota of a difference. Then I understand: it is no wonder that Mommy is a little different this time around. Mommy and Daddy are both different. We're very cautious, because everything is contingent on Peanut living. Being excited about any of this process carries with it an assumption that we can not afford to make any more. I think we are both ok with this, but it is probably a little unnerving to everyone else.

All this thinking about how Jon and I are different, though, reminded me of a poem that I saw on the Internet once, a poem that reminds me that we are not the only ones who will be different. Peanut, if he or she does live, will be different too. The thought of it warms my heart.

A Different Child
by P. Waldron
A different child, people notice
There's a special glow around you.
You grow surrounded by love
Never doubting you are wanted;
Only look at the pride and joy
In your mother and father's eyes.
And if sometimes between the smiles
There's a trace of tears,
One day you'll understand.
You'll understand there was once another child.
A different child.
Who was in their hopes and dreams.
That child will never outgrow the baby clothes.
That child will never keep them up at night.
In fact, that child will never be any trouble at all...
Except sometimes, in a silent moment,
When mother and father miss so much
That different child.
May hope and love wrap you warmly
And may you learn the lesson forever:
How infinitely precious,
How infinitely fragile is this life on earth.
One day, as a young man or woman
You may see another mother's tears
Another father's silent grief
Then you, and you alone will understand
And offer the greatest comfort.
When all hope seems lost you will tell them with great compassion:
"I know how you feel. I'm here because my mom tried again."

Introducing Peanut

This introduction has been a long time coming! Peanut made his or her presence aware to us via the traditional "+" sign on October 7, 2008.

Those of you who have known Jon and me for at least a couple of years know that we have seen the "+" sign on three previous occasions since 2005. As such, we met this news with ambivalence. I think I might have cried, but I cannot remember whether they were tears of joy or sadness...for a well-traveled path with an uncertain destination. Can we do this again? Can we bear it?

My obstetrician Dr. Baer knows how anxious we are. He has given us more opportunities to see the little one than he would with a typical pregnancy, for which we are grateful. Here is the first ultrasound, taken at six weeks, two days:

The crown-to-rump extent is marked by the two "+" signs, and the little dot between them marks the location of the heart. We saw the heart beat, just one little flashing pixel on the screen.

Just two weeks later we saw the little one again, and this time the image was more cohesive. The ultrasound always seems to resemble something at this point in development. And thus "Peanut" received his/her official nickname.
A long wait followed the above ultrasound, and admittedly I spent this entire period of time in denial that I was pregnant at all. We still had not told anyone except immediate family and a couple of friends and coworkers. This was a protective move, because there is nothing worse than having to un-tell pregnancy news when things go wrong, and to have to do it for a fourth time would tear me apart.

For some reason, the final ultrasound of the series, at 11 weeks 6 days, changed everything. The ultrasound technician was funny--she was busy moving the paddle around, trying to take measurements of various organs, and all Jon and I wanted to see was the heartbeat. When I finally caught sight of it, I said "oh thank God--the heart is still beating". She said "I'm sorry, guys--I forgot about your history. Yes, the heartbeat looks great."
There before us was a head-shaped head, four intact limbs, a skeleton. I remember thinking, "This child may have a fighting chance after all". After that we felt comfortable sharing our news. It's funny...in this image, Peanut actually looks a bit like Schroeder from "Peanuts", bending over a piano.

Peanut, please keep growing. This is a special journey for all three of us.