Today is a mini-celebration. I’m doing a happy dance. For the final time this pregnancy, I have placed a block of ice against my butt cheek in preparation for my husband to give me a shot of progesterone. It’s not nearly as sexy as it sounds. See picture. Any woman who has been through infertility treatments or has been at risk for premature delivery knows what these bad boys feel like – and it ain’t fun. I’ve had 151 of these shots. We also had 22 other shots (and a number of patches and meds) to get our frozen cycle going and countless blood draws throughout the process. Needless to say, I’ve felt a bit like a pin cushion. But today is the last one. Which means … we’ve made it! Okay it might be more than a mini-celebration!
In two more days, we will have another happy dance celebration – they will be taking my cerclage out. About halfway through our pregnancy we found out that my cervix was shortening and our risk of early labor was increasing. So the doctor sewed me shut. No one knew if it would work. I had been having contractions since the beginning of the second trimester and the doctors were giving this a chance but not a guarantee. That sucker has held though – strong. I’ve never been more in love with a piece of wire string in my life.
Once they take that out … my baby boy could be born at anytime. He will be born and put into my arms and taken home. Even typing the words makes my heart swell. We have learned that there are few certainties, anything could still happen – so we are keeping our senses aware like good soldiers. We are going to get to this finish line. We are going to meet this goal. We are going to love this boy with every ounce of strength and fight and determination needed to get him home. And honestly, I feel a little bit like a bad-ass having made it this far.
A few weeks ago I was able to shift my thought process from just how to keep him alive and growing to how to get through labor. I was able to shift to imagining what the delivery room will look like, what my preferences for birth will be (and how to be flexible when they need to change), and mostly what it will be like to be handed my son, to hear his cry fill the room … I ache for this moment! That shift was emotionally monumental and not without a few moments of surging grief for our twins.
This month has been difficult physically as I think most third trimesters must be. I’m swollen beyond reason, I ache in every place imagineable, and I have no idea how to navigate my new center of gravity. But I am so proud of myself for being here. I don’t say all of this in a bragging way … or maybe I do … but in part it is because I don't think we women are often vocal enough about celebrating our own accomplished strength.
The days leading up to Mother’s Day were hard for me this year. It was not my first Mother’s Day like I thought it would be, with twins crawling in every direction and some painted footprint card from them. It was instead my second one without them. Last year we held their memorial the day before Mother’s Day. In the days leading up to Mother’s Day my longing for them reverberated in every room of our house … But when the day actually came, I woke up with a contentedness – because I knew deep in my soul that the day was still for me too. They made me a mom. And the boy I’m carrying me now showed me something about myself: I am brave.
I am so much braver than I ever gave myself credit for before. Courage is not being without fear, resilience is not being without heartache, and bravery doesn’t exist in the absence of doubts. I am brave, courageous, resilient because despite the heartache and doubts and fears, I have done it any ways. I have fought any ways. I have chosen to love and feel joy any ways. I am so proud of myself for this. And do you know what forced me to be truly brave? Motherhood. And on Mother’s Day this year I thought of the many friends who I had witnessed be brave because of motherhood in the last few years.
...Like my friend who’s son was born a day before 28 weeks and she stayed by his side repeating “every day in every way [my son] gets bigger and stronger.” I saw her bravely repeat this mantra and belief every day as he has grown into a curious, strong, healthy toddler.
...Or my friend who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder shortly after a miscarriage. She bravely chose to carry another child with extra monitoring and persitence, with her own physical heart on the line. And she got them both to the end of the pregnancy safely, bravely.
...Or my friend who’s son was medically incompatible with life and had to be born much too soon. Her son was born hours from her twin sister’s live son. And she loves her nephew with openness and grace and she continues to parent her older daughters with new appreciation for life, all while grieving her own son, all while living bravely.
...Or my friend who’s blood pressure spiked at the end of her pregnancy requiring an emergency c-section. Her daughter was not ready to be born and spent a week in the NICU. When they told her that the anesthesia would have to wear off before she could see her daughter, she hoisted her numb legs over the side of the bed and said “I’m going now.” She shocked her nurses as she walked with superhuman strength down the hall to meet her daughter. She’s been by unwaveringly and bravely by her side since.
...Or my friend who's father (and closest person to her) died a month before her youngest daughter was born. She bravely managed through her own grief to make sure it didn't impact her baby girl. She chose to let her dad's legacy be of the strength he gave her.
...Or my friend who unitnentionally became pregnant, threw up every single day of her pregnancy and had a terrible birth experience, but still picked up her battle torn body and gave every ounce of it to loving her baby girl even before she was fully healed.
...Or my other friend who unitnentionally became pregnant and made the difficult decision to find an adoptive family. And when the family backed out at 8 months, she took a deep breath, threw herself into motherhood, and has made her son her number one priority every since.
...Or my friend who lost her first son halfway through their pregnancy on a vacation. She bravely decided to try again and fought with every ounce of fight to get her second son here while still in her first year of grief. And because her story echos mine, she stood by me through my entire pregnancy, cheerleading and using her own story to help me. She bravely put herself out there to encourage and help and love again.
I have joined the ranks of these brave mother-women. These are just a few of their stories, I have witnessed so many others – women battling infertility who pick up every day and keep trying, women who have lost a child at any age who still live and love, women who have fought through their own illness or their child’s illness or disability, women who work to provide for their families, women who stay at home to support their families, women who mother and mentor through every kind of hardship.
I am proud to be a brave mother. This is all loss and life and courage and motherhood and love. It’s not easy, but it’s a damn good club to be a part of.
I am ecstatic to be done with shots. I can’t wait to ditch my stitch. I am ready to meet my beautiful son. The next time you hear from me, I will hopefully be incoherently in an exhausted newborn haze. Here's to the next countdown: bringing baby L home!
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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