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A Birth Story: Told from My Infertile Perspective
a blog by CGD, October 12, 2011
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My alarm clock rings at 7 a.m. I roll over and grab my iPhone from my night table, almost in reflex at this point. The screen comes alive with several messages, one of them alerting me that I have a text waiting for me from my brother. I kind of expected this. My sister in law was due to be induced the night before, I figured he was telling me that they were at the hospital or something like that. But, the text actually informs me that the baby was born at 4:15 a.m. — a healthy baby boy and that my sister in law went into labor a few hours before she was scheduled to be induced.
I look around for my husband — he is in the shower. I am not sure what to do with myself or what I am supposed to feel, so I text a few things to my brother, getting some miscellaneous details about the baby and the birth, more out of a sense of obligation than true concern or curiosity. Weight, labor details, how my sister-in-law is doing — all the questions you are supposed to ask.
My husband comes into the bedroom. I am still in bed. I tell him about the text. He already knows, having received the same message from my brother. He kind of looks at me, waiting for me to respond or something. This is a common dance in our house. My husband is often left "scanning" me for a reaction when it comes to baby stuff — maybe waiting for a fallout, maybe gauging me so he knows how he should react himself. I’m not really sure. We both say some snarky comments about the baby’s name and its relationship to the original Beverly Hills 90210. Our comments are not particularly funny, but we both laugh anyway, I assume more out of anxiety than anything else.
I call my parents and plan on when to meet up with them at the hospital and then I try to go about my day as usual, only things don’t really feel as usual. I feel a little lost and unsure, like something big has just happened that I am supposed to be reacting to, only I can’t figure out what that reaction is supposed to be.
I decide to go to the gym, my typical morning routine. I shove my credit card in my gym bag so that I can pick up a quick gift to bring with me for my hospital visit. My workout is good, in that endorphin, head-clearing kind of way. I feel energized and stable.
I walk over to the card store next to my house, knowing that they have a small but adequate baby section of little gifts that I can grab and go. This was my plan all along, to pick up a little something but not make myself crazy as I have been known to do hunting for the perfect present. But, despite the small selection, I feel overwhelmed by choices and get sucked into the allure of soft baby blankets and cute little booties. Touching them makes my heart hurt. I wander around, not exactly sure what I am looking for, until eventually I make myself just leave with a stuffed animal and a picture frame (I even went back and forth 10 times about the gift bag and the card). So much for grab and go.
I run back home, knowing I am already late from wasting all that time in the store. I quickly get ready and make sure to put on my new girly dress knowing that it would make me feel better to look pretty on the outside when I felt like crap on the inside. It helped … kind of. Nobody would have guessed that the girl in the pretty dress was in reality a bitter infertile.
I show up at the hospital a few hours later. I feel my heart beating hard in my chest on my walk over. I try to calm myself with deep yoga breathing as I wait for the elevator to take me up to the maternity ward. I feel kind of bad for those people on the elevator with me.
I get off the elevator, I feel nauseous. How I am going to do this? What do I say? I see my brother and my parents almost immediately in the waiting area. I give my brother a hug and the gift bag. I feel happy that I have a gift to give as it kind of speaks for me instead of me having to say much.
My brother calls me back to meet the baby. He is small and wrapped in white blankets. His skin is red, his eyes are closed. My brother puts him in my arms. My heart sinks. I don’t know what I am supposed to feel.
I look around after the baby is out of my arms. This might be the only happy place in the entire hospital. Am I the only one not really happy on that floor? Everyone around me appears to be smiling and is carrying balloons and flowers and cameras. A nurse compliments me on my pretty dress, I smile and think that my outfit was a good call.
This baby’s birth is a hard thing for me, as I am sure you can imagine. His due date was supposed to be the same date as my due date last year. On Oct. 1, 2010, I was supposed to give birth to a baby boy, but I lost him at 15 weeks gestation. I had already experienced four in vitro fertilization (IVF) failures at that point. He was my miracle baby and I lost him. My new nephew was supposed to be born on Oct 1, 2011, but out of kindness to his heartbroken aunt (or so I like to believe), he waited a few more days, arriving 10 days after he was expected. I think that is his gift to me.
When I held him, I had a flash of what it might have been like last year had things turned out another way. Just a flash, and then it was gone. And I was back to being the infertile girl, wearing that pretty dress, holding somebody else’s baby.