One of the most powerful moments of my life was holding my stillborn son, both of us wrapped in my husbands arms on that hospital bed where we swore we to him that we would never give up. We promised our little boy in that moment that we would continue to fight to bring a baby home, no matter how hard the journey would be. We all break promises, I am surely guilty of that. But I will never break this promise that I made to my son. It’s the only promise I ever made him. I will go to my grave honoring it.
The first few months after losing Jake were a haze. I can barely remember the details even 15 months later. I can recall random moments and sometimes a “new” memory makes its way through my mind but overall, that time was like a black hole. Information came in, I processed it, but somehow it got lost in the overload of “stuff” that occurred during that time. People will often say, “Remember when I came by..” No, I really don’t. “How about that time...” Nope. Nada. I just don’t remember. The memories I do have often began as moments I spent with myself reeling for my child and aching for the family I almost had. However, the memories of when we began trying to conceive again are very vivid ones.
My husband and I can’t conceive through natural intercourse but our first time being intimate after we lost Jake threw me for a loop. I cried the entire time. We had to re-create what intimacy meant and I had to remind myself that as hard as it was, I had to separate my thoughts of creating babies from sex. If I was focused on what the process could/should produce, I became so emotional that it no longer felt desirable. And that wasn’t fair to my marriage.
We had our first IUI (intrauterine insemination) only 3 cycles after losing Jake. The doctors gave us the thumbs up so we plunged forward, an atrocious mess of emotions yet blissfully numb at the same time. At the insemination appointment I remember wearing my sunglasses (a recurrent theme for about 6 months) in the waiting room. I didn’t want my husband to attend because that would have made things more real. So I went alone and held back any emotion I felt during the procedure. I waited the 20 minutes on the exact exam room table that I conceived Jake on, paid my balance, walked to my car and then the tears came pouring. I cried the entire way home and for 2 days to follow. I had 2 more treatments like this over the next few months that followed. The final resulting in a pregnancy followed by a miscarriage at 10 weeks.
It’s been 10 months but I finally had another IUI last week. The experience was completely different, for the better. Here’s how I know I am truly ready to try again:
1. I’m not keeping it a secret. If people ask, I tell them the truth. I want their prayers. I need their prayers.
2. Fat follicles make me happy again! Seeing the possibility on that ultrasound screen of how many eggs I am producing is finally encouraging again.
3. I am laughing again at home injections, “dropping the swimmers off at the doctor”, the awkward time in the waiting room holding a tube of semen & all of the strangeness that comes with infertility stuff. I even took a silly selfie with Mr. Ultrasound Wand to prove it.
4. I don’t cry at appointments anymore, at least not these ones.
5. I can say the word baby and not fall apart.
6. When I close my eyes I can envision being pregnant again and carrying a different baby than Jake.
7. I think about baby names, a lot.
8. I feel excited about the future. I now say “when” and not “if.” My mind-set has changed about my destiny.
9. I strangely welcome the challenge of pregnancy after loss and feel ready to embrace trusting the Lord on such a level that nothing else in this world could offer me.
10. Sex has become a beautiful and intimate time in my marriage again, not just an emotional experience that brings me sadness.
These may seem small to some but to me these are monumental signs that I am as ready as I can be for this journey. So with an open heart and hands in prayer, I will also do my best to embrace the wait until our time arrives. I will also have fun with it when my heart feels light and take silly selfies to track my journey so that one day I will have a different story for my baby about my journey to bringing him/her home.