I haven’t written in a while. There’s a good reason and it’s not that I didn’t have anything to say – quite the contrary, I have a really good story to tell you. I wasn’t able to write it until now, and frankly, having to hold back this story for a few months crippled my ability to write just about anything.
This story starts with a simple text of “Are you awake?” that I received February 22 from my wife Amy at around 6:15am. I had slept on the couch that night since I had a cold and didn’t want to keep Amy up with my constant coughing — she was jetlagged from a recent trip. But still, it was unusual to get a text given I was just down the hall. I responded, “yes, what’s up?” The text I got back caused me to pop out of bed and sprint down the hall. If Amy tells you this story, she’ll tell you that she hit send and counted “1, 2, 3,” wondering how long it would take me to get down the hall to our bedroom.
The text read…
“I think I’m pregnant.”
HOLY CRAP!! That can’t be.
If you know us or follow my blog, you know that in 2010 we adopted our son Alex. He’s the most beautiful thing in the world. A true miracle. A sweet, funny, loveable little boy. After a decade of trying, a pregnancy in 2009 that ended in heartache after 10 weeks and another that ended before it really even started, we pretty much knew that our avenue to a family would be a beautiful, yet alternative, path. Sure, we met with a specialist or two (okay, fine, three) to look into whether we could still have a biological child but at the end of the day it wasn’t in the cards, and we both felt strongly in adoption – it’s an amazing experience to take an unwanted child and immediately make them wanted. On our fateful February 22, we were already in the process of adoption #2 —we had decided, without question, we wanted another child.
I’m not going to lie, the first few weeks were incredibly stressful – and let’s be completely clear here, the stress burden was on Amy. Given what doctors casually labeled her “medical history,” Amy had to go for near-daily blood tests to see if her hormone levels were rising, taking time away from Alex and work, and while it was stressful for me too, let’s not pretend it’s the same thing (and don’t think Amy doesn’t give me a daily reminder to that point).
I really envy the people who get pregnant that first time and never give a second thought to what might go wrong. We were that couple four years ago, walking into our ultrasound appointment with the only issue on our mind being whether Amy’s bladder was going to explode in the reception area (any mom will understand that one). And then within the blink of an eye, it comes crashing down as the initially upbeat technician suddenly leaves the room only to return with the solemn but oh-so-kind doctor.
So when I received a simple text that read “heartbeat” from Amy following a very early appointment, I just looked at my phone and broke down and cried. I had spent the previous weeks mentally preparing myself for bad news, constantly reminding myself that I would have to be so strong for Amy when this turned sour (she’s the strong one) and try to find words for her that I knew would be so hollow because they wouldn’t change a thing. But instead, I got “heartbeat” – the first hurdle surprisingly had been passed. This little one’s got some spunk. (Side note: I told Amy she’s never, ever allowed to text life-altering information again!!)
Today, we’re at 19 weeks, having just come from yet another ultrasound, and we’re still in the game. The road hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but rather has been filled with 24/7 nausea, some hormonally-challenged moments (mine, not hers), a gestational diabetes misdiagnosis, and me learning (well, trying to learn) the true meaning of empathy. I’ve learned that there is no number of late night ice cream runs I could make that could ever equal the havoc that Amy’s going through. I’ve also learned that if you put just the right amount of hot fudge on Baskin Robbins chocolate chip ice cream, you can create a perfect scoop (that’s for me, by the way, not Amy).
We have spent a lot of time waiting for bad news and being nervous – actually petrified – that something will go wrong, and being both willing and unwilling to accept that it’s out of our control. We’re a rare couple that’s not afraid of being parents, but so scared of being pregnant. But, there have been moments of pure joy…. Watching Alex blow kisses at Amy’s belly while at the same time insisting that he doesn’t want a sibling but prefers a cat or dog. Or for me, the moment during the first major ultrasound when Amy realized that even at 12 weeks that this little being already had arms and legs.
We’ve told a few people at this point. The response we almost always get is some variation of “I heard that happens all the time” (meaning people adopting or pursuing surrogacy suddenly get pregnant). I tried to find some real statistics on it and the best I could find is that it seems to happen less than 8% of the time. I just think we tend to remember the great stories we hear, and people who can’t have children don’t walk around telling their friends “Oh, by the way, I still can’t have children.”
Please note that it’s completely fine if you want to say this to either Amy or I — it’s cute even if it doesn’t really make sense, and in four months if all goes well, we’re happy to be the “I know a couple who adopted and then three years later…” But please spare us the “you weren’t thinking about it so it happened” or “maybe you’re just less stressed” because you can take it from me that you’re always thinking about it. Also, I couldn’t think of anything more stressful than taking care of an almost three year old – one who yesterday went out the back door, opened the garage and walked out of the house to take himself on a walk (alone).
One of the things I can’t get out of my head is how this (if it happens) will affect Alex. He’s going to have quite the story. I think about how if we had gotten this far with a biological child first in 2009, there would be no Alex. He’d be a Sean or an Ethan and maybe he wouldn’t say “momma” every morning when he wakes up, or like trains or greet every dog like it’s the first time he’s ever seen a dog.
Maybe when that sliding door opened four years ago, Alex wasn’t meant to be the only thing to walk through. Just maybe. I refuse to count anything before it’s hatched (not quite literally) so for now we’ll wait, hope and eat a lot of ice cream.
Oh, and by the way, it’s a boy.