I’m not going to pretend I waited until marriage to have sex. Sorry, mom, if you’re reading this. Sorry, Shawn, I wasn’t a virgin when we got married. Hopefully, you both already knew that. Whew, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way . . . .
In college, my boyfriend and I were always super careful. We used condoms, and I was on birth control, but for some reason, every month, I would still worry. I’d wait impatiently for my period to arrive. If it was even one day late, panic would set in. When is my period going to come? Should I buy a pregnancy test? Do I tell my boyfriend or just keep it to myself? What will college be like with a baby?
Fast-forward 15 years, and the irony of my college worries sets in. I’m on edge again. Waiting impatiently every month. But this time, I’m hoping and praying that my period DOESN’T come. Did we have sex on the right day at the right time? Did I actually ovulate this time? Did his sperm find my egg? Did the Clomid and the hormone shots work?
All these questions and more went through my head for an entire year while Shawn and I went through fertility treatments, desperately trying to get pregnant. I’d wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember, but my body was not cooperating.
We figured out early on that it was me, not Shawn. It was my body that wasn’t doing the very thing it was put on this earth to do. I felt like I was a failure. I’m still in awe of how agreeable Shawn was to the tests he had to undergo. Nothing like being put in a room and told to produce a sperm sample — but he did it so willingly. He wanted to be a dad as much as I wanted to be a mom.
I was taking hormones, giving myself injections, going in for regular doctor’s appointments to see if I was ovulating, while the entire world was pregnant. I swear, everywhere I went there were pregnant women and babies. It was like they were all bragging, rubbing it in my face that THEY could reproduce anytime they wanted to, and I couldn’t.
After pursuing several other fertility treatments, we decided to try an intrauterine insemination, the old turkey baster method, the step right before you get to in-vitro fertilization. I’ll never forget what the doctor said to me as he injected Shawn’s sperm into my body: “One day, you can tell your son or daughter all about the really romantic moment when he or she was conceived.”
To his credit, he was trying to make an incredibly awkward situation more comfortable, but I’ve never forgotten those words.
Fourteen LONG days later, and it was finally THE day. We would get the results of the blood test. We would find out if we were pregnant. The minutes and hours of the day crawled by. I left work early and just drove around for a couple hours. The doctor’s office was apparently torturing me on purpose by waiting until the very end of the day to call. The phone rang, my stomach dropped. I felt sick. What would they say? Could I handle it if they told me it didn’t work? How quickly could we try again if it didn’t work? What if I never got pregnant?
Luckily, my worries faded quickly as I heard the magical words: You are pregnant. I don’t really remember hearing anything after that. In fact, I had to call back to ask them about my due date. Details didn’t matter at that point. I was pregnant! I drove straight to Shawn’s work to tell him.
I remember feeling okay for the first few weeks of my pregnancy. In our case, we knew SO early on that we were pregnant, so the typical pregnancy symptoms took a little while to kick in. And once they kicked in, they didn’t stop. It started with the typical morning sickness. I felt sick all the time. Then slowly my blood pressure began to creep up. One day, my obstetrician put me on blood pressure medication. At that time, I didn’t think much of it. She didn’t seem concerned, and so neither was I.
But then, one weekend, my blood pressure was scary high. I called the doctor and did the 24-hour urine test they perform before officially diagnosing you with preeclampsia. Before the results could even come back, I had taken a helicopter ride from one hospital to another and been placed on hospital bed rest. I delivered the next day, three and half months early.
Once the drugs from the emergency C-section had worn off and the reality of the situation set in, my first thought was that maybe my body wasn’t meant to be pregnant after all. Maybe I had messed with the plan the man upstairs had for me. I wasn’t meant to tell my daughter that story about how she was conceived because we shouldn’t have fought that hard to get pregnant. I had failed again. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I had done this to my daughter, Avery. It was my fault that she was in the NICU, fighting for her life.
Fast-forward again, and Avery is a thriving, happy four year old. Sure, she’s developmentally delayed and has some challenges we will deal with for a while, but she’s here. She survived.
As for my guilt? It’s still here, but it has faded drastically over the years. Avery WAS meant to be put on this earth even if she did arrive well before she was due. The life lessons she has taught Shawn and me are immeasurable.
So, for those of you out there who are desperately trying to get pregnant, wondering if it’s ever going to happen and wondering if all the medications, shots, tests, and procedures are even worth it — yes, they are, in my opinion.
Science is an amazing thing, and I for one am thankful that it helped put the miracle that is our daughter Avery on this planet. Because look out world, she is going to do great things.