My face is wet. It's part sweat and part tears. A lot of sweat and tears. I'm sobbing and gasping--barely getting the words out. "That...was the hardest thing I've ever done!"
"Yes," replies my OB kindly, "Parenting is the hardest thing there is."
But I wasn't talking about becoming a mother. I was talking about having a baby.
Part One: Pregnancy!
This was our last chance. Or anyway it felt like it. After tons of tests, dose after increasing dose of Clomid, intrauterine insemination, and lots of fasting and prayer (not to mention getting all ready to do IVF right before losing our insurance benefits covering IVF and having to postpone that little project indefinitely), I had spent the last 4 months on birth control pills and an essentially carbohydrate-free diet. The horribleness of this diet cannot be overstated. When I say carbohydrate-free, I'm not talking "low-carb." I'm talking skinless rotisserie chicken pieces for almost every meal and two servings of leafy green vegetables a day. No fruit. No carrots. No peas. No beans. It was about 800-900 calories a day, and I had to be monitored frequently by a doctor plus enjoy daily fistfuls of vitamins that were now missing from my diet. After 4 months on the diet I had lost 50 pounds, but I was not a functioning member of society. I quit the diet and ditched the birth control pills. Now we'd see if it had been worth it.
For the first time in my life, I had ovulation symptoms. My mom was in town when the egg was theoretically supposed to drop, but we kept our eyes on the prize anyway. To put it delicately, we ensured that I was receiving regular deposits of complementary genetic material should an egg decide to make an appearance. Sorry, Mom.
I waited the requisite two weeks and had a tiny little period ("could it be implantation bleeding??" I wondered). I was so excited when I took the pregnancy test. It was time for my BFP (Big Fat Positive--that's what the infertility support group sites call it). Except that the test was negative.
I resigned my life to being a childless nun. Sorry, Brandon.
I didn't have a period again, but that's basically standard operating procedure for me. I had just thought so much that I was going to be pregnant, though. And maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but two weeks later, I decided to take the test again, just in case. Negative.
Several weeks later, something strange started happening. My breasts, which were never small to begin with, started to grow. And they started to HURT. They felt heavy and ponderous, which is redundant because as I use it here, both words mean the exact same thing. But what I really mean is that they were sore and puffy and tired-feeling. Every time I'd take off my bra, I'd feel like I was freeing two morbidly obese felons from the hot box in a prison yard.
I finally talked to my mom about it, because I was starting to get freaked out that there was really something wrong with them. "Do you think it's cancer?" I asked.
"It sounds like how mine felt when I was pregnant."
During the phone conversation, I was laying with my upper body hanging upside down off my bed so that I could get some relief from the constant downward pressure of my breasts straining to make contact with the surface of the earth. I decided to humor my mom by taking one more stupid pregnancy test and then going in to have breast reduction surgery.
I did not want to take the test. A negative pregnancy test is a great way to ruin your day when you're trying to conceive. I did it the next morning when I was feeling impulsive. I got out my name-brand test (my reproductive endocrinologist said those were most accurate) and prepared to take it. As always, I chose to take a pregnancy test when I really, really, really had to go to the bathroom so it was touch and go there for a minute while I tried to open the package in time.
I peed on the stick, then put the little cap on it and watched as the fluid saturated the test fibers as per the instructions. First the little "test" line appeared. This was the only line I'd ever seen before. But as the fluid continued toward the end of the test area, another line appeared. The positive line. It didn't take two minutes. It took like 10 seconds. The second it was wet, it was blue.
I couldn't believe it. I needed confirmation so I took a picture of the two parallel lines and texted it to Brandon, saying, "so this just happened..." He's never returned a text faster. He drove home while I climbed in the shower and cried. Then we both drove to my reproductive endocrinologist's office for a blood test. I tried to act natural and not like the results of this test had the power to crush my soul. I'd had a number of blood pregnancy tests by this point, too. All of them had resulted in a phone call where a kindly nurse said, "the test was negative," except for once when it was a grouchy nurse who told me the HCG number and was impatient that I didn't already know that that number meant it was negative. So, anyway, I tried to play it cool.
We went to lunch at Indian Flame by Case's campus. It's an awesome restaurant. I had called my mom after the positive urine test, but she was the only other person who knew what was going down. The food was good but I was so stressed that I felt sick. They had said they'd probably get the results to me by the end of the day. Already it was shaping up to be a long one. As we were checking out, my phone rang. I picked it up. My hands were shaking. I wanted to leave the restaurant so nobody would know what I was talking about, but Brandon was paying and I needed him there. The nurse on the line confirmed it was me. I was so scared I could hardly spit out my name.
"We ran your blood test today and....you are SO pregnant." I still can't type it without crying. I couldn't get the words out, so I just looked at Brandon and nodded. A huge grin lit up his face. I was stunned. I started sobbing and saying "thank you" over and over to the nurse. She said she was so happy for me and good luck and that I needed to come in the next day for my first check up because it looked like I was maybe 9 weeks along. My HCG levels were apparently quite high this time.
I wept with gratitude on the way back to the car, and then sobbed and sobbed and sobbed because I was so happy. Brandon called his mom and, over my loud, hooting cries, conveyed the good news. She started crying, too. My mom was in a meeting, so I couldn't get in touch with her for a couple of hours. When I told her what the nurse had said, she started crying and it got me going again.
The next day, we saw Jelly for the first time. From the ultrasound, our due date was amended from December 7th to December 21st. She was six weeks alive in there and was just a throbbing heartbeat. She was so so tiny. I was so afraid I would lose her--but decided to name her anyway. Jelly, because that's really all she was at that point.
Oh, and also, I was sure Jelly was a boy.