For those of you who don't know at this point (and I can't imagine there are a whole lot of people out there who haven't heard) - the hubby and I are expecting Munchkin #2! We are beyond thrilled, as we would be with any pregnancy. This particular pregnancy, though, has a bit more of a story behind it than the average pregnancy. I've had a few people suggest that I write about it, so, I thought it might be a good way to dust off the keyboard and get back into blogging.
A warning, though: some of the content in this story may be a bit "much" for you gentlemen out there. Nothing overly graphic, but if you have trouble with the words "ovaries" or "uterus," go check out my previous blogs (and be sure to check back for new ones, too).
So. Let's start at the very beginning...
(For those of you who finished up that line with "A very good place to start" - you make my heart smile.)
Right around Munchkin #1's first birthday party in February, I started experiencing cramp-like pain on a semi-regular basis. I didn't think much of it, and continuously brushed it off as my body still adjusting to post-baby life. Every now and then, I would call my doctor and check in to make sure there was nothing for me to worry about, and I was always given the attempted-reassuring-but-always-slightly-condescending "Oh, you're just going through new mama pains. It'll go away once your hormone levels balance out."
Well, the pain didn't just persist - it grew both in severity and frequency. It was a pain that I never experienced before - so bad that it would shoot into my back and down my left leg. So bad it would make me nauseous and not want to eat. So bad that I began carrying a heating pad with me everywhere I went. I couldn't sit, stand, drive, work out, play with my daughter, anything without the pain inhibiting me in some fashion.
Then, one day, the pain was so bad that I asked someone at work to take me to the hospital. Beads of sweat dripped down my face and my skin turned ashen as I did everything in my power not to cry while we drove down a slightly bumpy road to the hospital. I checked myself in, they took me to the back room, and a doctor bustled in to see me in tears. After running the standard *Poke poke* *Prod prod* "Are you sure it's not just indigestion?" tests, he concluded that an ovarian cyst had ruptured.
"Uh..." I replied, while thinking Oh please, just give me some medicine so I can think. "Shouldn't we run a scan or something so we can make sure that's it?"
"Well, that will cost a lot of money and take time. I don't think it's necessary. Your OB/GYN will know how to handle it once he sees your symptoms. Besides, you are prone to cysts, aren't you?"
"Yes, but this doesn't feel like...Ok. Fine. Whatever you think. Can I please just have something to get me through the day?"
Not only did the doc give me a shot of Norco, but he also prescribed me with Vicodin...you know, just in case. Yikes.
I called my doctor that afternoon, and while I wasn't necessarily treated rudely, I also wasn't listened to entirely - which can be just as offensive. After explaining everything that happened, I was told I would have to wait over a month for an appointment.
"Wait, you're kidding, right? Because I'm still in pain every single day. And I can't just pop a pill every ten seconds - I have to take care of my family. I have to drive. I have a job."
"Yes, but we don't consider this to be a threatening situation, and you would need to come in for just a routine check-up."
"I was hospitalized because this is so bad. Am I not making myself clear? You're telling me that - even though I went to the hospital - you can't find time to fit me in? And even though I am telling you point blank that I cannot function right now because I'm in so much pain, my pain is not worth this doctor's time?" *silence* "Ok, well, gather up the necessary paperwork. I'm finding a new doctor. I'll need you to transfer it all once I find a new practice."
Well, fast-forward another two months of thought- and sleep-interrupting pain. I finally found a new doctor and, after examination, explained to me that I had what he thought to be endometriosis. For those of you who don't know what that is (because I sure as hell didn't), endometriosis occurs when the lining of your uterus doesn't entirely go away during your monthly cycle like it is supposed to. Furthermore, this tissue can become displaced outside of the uterus, where there's no chance of it escaping at all. As a result, your body forms copious amounts of scar tissue, which can ultimately attach itself to (and even twist) your ovaries. This can be caused due to surgeries like a C-section (which is possible for me), or just because your body hates you and wants you to be miserable (which is also a possibility).
The solution? A laparoscopic procedure to take a look and clean me out. I set the date of the surgery immediately, because I'm a "We have a problem, we know a potential solution, let's fix this now" kinda gal. That being said, though, the doctor's warning loomed over me:
"This might work. But it also has a tendency to be a temporary fix, because there's no true cure for endometriosis. We treat this as a 'three strikes and you're out' situation. If we have to go back and do this surgery more than twice within two years, we will need to start talking about a hysterectomy in order for the pain to subside."
"Can I get pregnant before then?"
"I don't see why you can't try - the best time for you to get pregnant is immediately after the surgery, though. Even then, many women with endometriosis find it is very difficult to conceive naturally. We can try [insert lots and lots of overly complicated and stress-inducing ways to get pregnant]..."
The weeks leading up the surgery, hubby and I had very, very serious conversations about what we wanted out of our life together. How many kids did we really want? Would he be disappointed (specifically though not spoken, in me) if we could only have one biological child? Would we ever be able to afford to adopt a child if we wanted another one?
I kept apologizing to him as if I had done something wrong, and truthfully, I felt like I had. From day one of the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" questions, I always knew that I wanted to be a mother above all else. After experiencing an absolutely miserable pregnancy and bringing a tough, tough, tough baby into this world...I was beginning to feel like maybe this was God's way of saying "Eh...this really isn't for you. Let's hope you can handle the cards that I've dealt you." My hubby, being the ever-patient and amazing friend that he is, continuously reassured me that whatever the result of the surgery, our little family would always be perfect - regardless of whether or not we had more children.
I began to feverishly pray leading up to the day of the surgery. My prayers, though, always turned into prayers of surrender...although, I have to admit, that makes them sound more graceful and reverent than they actually were.
Lord, I really don't get why You think I'm such a strong individual, because I'm just about at my breaking point. Again. I don't understand what you want from me. I'm exhausted on all levels. But You know what's going on a whole lot better than I do, so...whatever Your plan is, I'm alright with it. If hubby and I are supposed to just have one child, that's alright. If I'm supposed to have more children, that's alright, too. Just please make it clear for me...I can't handle the guessing game of life anymore.
I asked for others to pray for me, too, but not to pray for a specific outcome. I didn't want it "my way", so to speak - I just wanted clear guidance as to what was best for both me and my family.
The night before the surgery, I was a wreck. I was nervous, I was emotional, and I was still in a tremendous amount of pain. The bottom line, though, is something didn't feel right...there was this nagging feeling in my heart that I was not in the right place at the right time. Hubby reassured me that I was just nervous about the surgery, and that I would feel better after it was all over...so, I went upstairs as quickly as I could and closed my eyes, just ready for this whole thing to be over.
And then the dream...
I dreamed that we were at the hospital, and I was waking up from anesthesia, groggy and cotton-mouthed. I looked over to see my doctor, still in his blue surgical scrubs, with a mournful grimace on his face. Why didn't you tell us?, he asked. Tell you...what?, I mumbled, still waking my drug-addled brain up. That you were pregnant.
You didn't tell us you were pregnant.
We lost the baby.
I shot up in bed. I looked at the clock - 5:30 AM, only a couple of hours before the surgery. There's no way, I thought. There is no. way.
I crept downstairs to get a drink of water, deciding that if I didn't calm down after five or so minutes, I would take the last pregnancy test that I had in the house, just to calm myself down so I could get some more sleep. When those five minutes came and went, I took the test...and it came back positive.
Now, this next part, I am 100% ashamed to admit, but since I'm being entirely truthful...I sobbed. Uncontrollably. Big, heaving, gasping sobs with horrendously ugly tears. I don't really know why I cried...it's not that I didn't want a baby. I did. I wanted another little pork chop so badly that the idea of living life without another little pork chop was causing me serious anxiety problems. I think the tears were out of pure, unadulterated helplessness. I realized in that instant that I got exactly what I prayed for, but because it wasn't what I personally prepared myself for, it caught me completely off-guard.
Furthermore - adding to the shameless honesty here - I already felt like a crappy mom. I was having a very difficult time balancing my long commute and my new promotion with my family life. I felt like I spent zero time with my daughter, and that broke my heart...so how am I supposed to do this with two?? And the money...where were we supposed to come up with the money for another baby?
I got myself under semi-control and went back upstairs, only to lay down in bed and start crying again. My husband woke up terrified, and when I told him what was "wrong", he started laughing. "Babe, that's great! Don't worry about all of the other stuff - we'll figure it out!"
"I don't even know if this pregnancy test is right - and I don't have any left."
"Well, we'll go to the hospital for the surgery anyways, and just let them know. They have to screen for all of that beforehand."
So, after dropping Munchkin #1 off at daycare, we headed to the hospital. Once I was ushered to the back room, I sheepishly told the nurse "Uh...so I had this weird dream last night...and I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, but I honestly don't believe it. You check for all of that, right?"
After laughing a good deal, she said "Yes, we check for all of that."
Twenty or more minutes go by, and the nurse came back with this perplexed look on her face.
"So...did you know you were pregnant?"
"Well, I took that test, but like I said, the only thing that cued me in was this weird dream...wait, are you telling me I'm for sure pregnant?"
"Honey, you're not just a little pregnant - you're like six weeks pregnant."
Fast-forward a few months (and by "a few", I mean nine - because I'm about to burst at this point). I've never loved my husband or my daughter more. My husband continues to be the best friend that I could have ever asked for, constantly reassuring me every time I have a panic attack about all of the "unknown factors". My daughter, who remains as stubborn as ever, is changing right before my eyes into this spectacularly intelligent and beautiful little girl who I know will be a fierce protector of her baby brother. And this baby....this baby that I'm pretty sure is the size of a small walrus...It's truly amazing how much you can love a little being when you haven't even seen their face, nuzzled the peach fuzz on their soft heads, and breathed in that newborn smell...
And lastly, I've never believed so strongly in the power of prayer. My prayers have changed significantly since learning of the pregnancy, though:
Lord, you have shown me that this is what You want for our family, and I'm thrilled that You responded to my call. I only ask one thing more (as always): You know my strengths and my weaknesses. You know what I can and cannot handle. Munchkin #1 was the biggest test I have ever faced in my life, and continues to be a strong-willed, difficult (and amazingly wonderful) little girl. I ask that this next child not push me over the edge.
And if this child is a clone of Munchkin #1, please send me a superhero cape.