It’s a groggy Monday morning in November 2020. We’ve been trying to get pregnant the past couple of months. I’m not late yet, but I have a strong urge to take a pregnancy test. Taking pregnancy tests has become somewhat of a hobby of mine ever since we started trying a year ago.
I don’t know why I do it to myself so often – the push and pull of hope and then disappointment. The wait that seems like forever. Just hoping to see that second line appear. Hope. That’s the drug that keeps me coming back.
So that Monday morning, I thought, “Why the hell not? It will probably be negative anyway. I’m prepared for that.”
I take the test and set it on the bathroom counter. I try not to look. I try to think about something else. But it’s the same thing every time. I stare at the test intently, like waiting for shapes to form within clouds in the sky. Drawing the line in my imagination. So much that if I focus enough, I swear I see it.
Except for this time, I did see it. There it was. Faint. But it was there.
I rushed to show my husband right away. We’ve done this before. In the past, I would swear I see something after staring at it for 5 minutes. Holding it in a different light. Taking photos with my cell phone and zooming in. He takes a look and responds with sorry eyes, “I can’t see it now but maybe it will be darker in a couple of days.”
But this time he looked and there was no denying the faint line. We were pregnant.
Every emotion except pure happiness rushed through my mind.
“Stick baby. Stick with me.”
It was a Sunday morning in November 2019. I woke up groggy and hungover.
I took myself back to the night before in crisp November air. I told my girlfriends how I had been late, but my tests all came back negative. At this point, we’d only been trying for a baby for a month, right after our wedding. I had no expectations of being pregnant already. Not on the first try. Not a Honeymoon baby. This is supposed to be much harder than that.
They urged me to take a test again. I swore it would be negative. I’ve tested already.
But that morning, I heard their voices in my head, still filled with hope. So I listened.
Sitting in the bathroom, I watched the digital test blink. The progress bars filling up the screen. One bar. Two Bar. Three bars. Blinking over and over. Blink. Blink. Blink.
I could not believe my eyes. Panic and happiness came over me. I brought it to my husband right away.
“Welp, that was quick”, he said matter of fact.
Immediately I already began researching ways I could tell my parents. I wanted to tell the world, but I couldn’t just yet. It wasn’t even noon and I was thinking about names. I thought about what the baby would look like. If it would be a boy or a girl.
My heart nearly fluttering out of my body. I was going to be a mom.
The next few days, I took more pregnancy tests. Watching the faint line get darker. Holding on to that second line with everything I had. That was the only indicator that the baby was still there.
I took so many tests to continue to see the line progression, I drove myself nuts. I had my husband hide the tests from me because I started to see it become unhealthy.
Living in the world of lines. The line between pregnant and not. The line between excitement and fear.
I put the positive tests in a drawer. Every once in a while, I’d take them out, lining them up next to each other one by one to see the positive continue to get darker. Continue to get closer to me. Continue to become more real.
Stay with me.
We had our first appointment and we saw the baby’s heartbeat. The baby was there, with a beating heart but measuring behind. Which can be completely normal. They asked us to come back the next week just to confirm the baby was growing as it should be.
I bought a confetti popper. I had our announcement photo planned in my head. We would announce around the new year. Someone would pop confetti over my husband and I joyfully holding the ultrasound photo. I could not wait to take it.
I bought us t-shirts for us to wear on Christmas Eve and tell our families. One was a skeleton with milk and cookies in the belly. The other was a skeleton with a baby in the belly.
I bought a tiny black notebook where we could write notes to our baby. I wanted this baby to know what our thoughts were as they were growing closer to being in our lives. I wanted them to know how much they were loved before they were even born.
I wrote my first note.
“Dear baby, today we saw your heartbeat.”
When I’m anxious, I clean. On a Sunday where nerves are already high anticipating the work week, I decided on a whim that I would clean out my office. I dusted, organized, and threw out old stacks of papers.
I looked at my bookshelf, thinking about tackling it but really not wanting to. It took a metaphorical push for me to decide that I should do something about it.
I lifted a stack of thank you cards, and there it was. The tiny black notebook with an outline of dust around it. The first page is now torn out living in a box of memories.
I stared at it and took it as a sign.
With the end of every story is an opportunity to start a new one.
The doctor looked at me and said the words, but I couldn’t hear her. All fell silent. Time stopped but somehow kept moving. It was not real life. It was something else. Something I didn’t know yet. It was everything but nothing at the same time.
The real world came crashing in around me. My dreams of confetti blowing away in the wind.
It had only been 8 weeks and I had already planned my future with this baby. Nursery colors and names. And now, none of that mattered.
The baby was gone.
The pregnancy news stayed safe with my husband and I. I liked it that way. It was ours and ours only. We held onto it, gently, carefully, with hope.
At 6 weeks, we saw a tiny baby on a screen. A little flicker of life. A heartbeat packed in to what looked like a little grain of rice.
“Congratulations,” the doctor said. "You have a healthy baby with a heartbeat."
I cried tears of joy.
We went back 3 weeks later on Christmas Eve. It was just as terrifying as it was exciting. I had hoped for a Christmas miracle, and I had been terrified of Christmas heartbreak at the same time.
“How will I go to Christmas after hearing that I lost my baby?”, I thought.
Two seconds into the ultrasound, before I could see the screen, I heard my husband say, “Woah!”
The doctor turned the screen to me, and I saw a living baby. It was no longer this grain of rice. It was a little gummy bear with arms and legs.
“It looks great. Congratulations, you guys!”
I thought about where we last put our announcement shirts from last Christmas. We were going to need them.
After we lost the baby, we continued to try to get pregnant. We succeeded three more times, but each one did not stay. They were early losses, before we could even go see the heartbeat, but each one piled on its own amount of heartbreak.
I wondered if having a baby was even possible for us. I looked at the confetti popper, stashed in a closet. Would we ever get to use it?
We posed for the photo in the driveway holding the ultrasound photo. We all braced for the confetti pop, as my mom struggled to get it to work.
We continued to smile, each passing second with more anticipation. We grew so uncomfortable we laughed. This confetti popper was not popping.
This was supposed to be my poetic moment. This was what I had been waiting for since last year! And yet, life has its way of making fun of the way you’ve planned things (see When Life Gives You Black Flies).
Luckily, I had a backup confetti popper. My mom held the new one.
“Okay, this is it,” we thought.
She twisted the popper with all her might, and we heard this sad release of air. Imagine the sound of a sad cricket farting. That’s what it sounded like. Another dud.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had waited so long for this moment.
We ended up cracking each confetti popper open and pouring the pieces into a bowl. My mom then threw it into the air, yelling “wee!”, and we looked at each other as confetti surrounded us.
It was at that moment, I had forgotten. I had forgotten the fear. The anxiety. The negative thoughts. The trauma.
I let the confetti encapsulate us, floating slow around us, feathering to the ground. It was as if our joy had expanded into this bubble where it was only us. Only my husband, me, and our baby.
Pregnancy on its own comes with its own set of fear and worry. Pregnancy after loss is a whole other concept. You know first-hand what can happen, and that is enough to send you into a tailspin of anxiety.
I am now in week 12 of my pregnancy. The week deemed “safe” to announce. Of course, the fear still creeps in. Of course, the past will always be a part of me. I will always hold our angel babies close to me.
I’ve realized I’ve spent so much time focusing on “What ifs”. Most of those include, “What if it all goes wrong?” focused thoughts.
But now I’m focusing on “What if it all goes right?”
Right now, I’m pregnant with our rainbow baby. Right now, I deserve to hold joy. Right now, with all that I know, everything is going to be okay.
I am holding on to that, and to this baby, with all of my heart.