Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Nelson Cruz, 2014 Stadium Club #152
When Janet and I got married in September 2013, we knew that we wanted to have children. After taking a few months to enjoy one another's company and to adjust to our new life together as husband and wife (or if you prefer, "man and wife, say MAN AND WIFE!"), we began trying to conceive. The news we had been waiting for finally came on a Sunday morning - March 15, 2015, to be exact. Nearly a year of uncertainty and frustration ended with a positive pregnancy test. Janet woke me up with an urgency and excitement in her voice that I will never forget. We stared at the stick. We embraced. We cried tears of joy.
We were bursting with the news, but tried to keep it under wraps, because that's what conventional wisdom dictates. There's a high risk of miscarriage in the early weeks, so you avoid spreading the word in order to save yourself from a lot of painful and uncomfortable conversations later on, if the unthinkable does happen. We told our parents as soon as we could, gifting them with St. Patrick's Day-themed announcement cards two days after we found out ourselves. The future aunts and uncles of the unborn kid found out that week as well, but that was it. Maybe a coworker here or there, because we couldn't spend 40 hours a week in the office without letting somebody know what was up. I didn't tell even my closest friends, although Janet shared with a handful of hers. I did a blog post about Larry Haney, because he was born on November 19, the original due date of our unborn child. (After the initial OB appointment, this was adjusted to November 16.)
We spent a few weeks with our heads mostly in the clouds, planning for our future life raising "Pantalaimon" (our code name for the little one, based on a character from Philip Pullman's book trilogy His Dark Materials). We took a mini-vacation to Sarasota for Spring Training, and bought a tiny Orioles onesie.
On April 3, Janet had an ultrasound. We could see a yolk sac, but no fetal pole. The sac measured about six weeks, smaller than it should have. The doctor told us that there was a strong possibility it was an "abnormal pregnancy", a terminology I'd never heard before. She clarified: it was likely a miscarriage, and we'd have to come back a week later for another ultrasound to confirm it. The doctor (not Janet's regular OB) was very sympathetic, and I remember her apologizing profusely for not having any tissues in her office.
We spent a week worrying, praying, searching for distractions, and hoping against hope that our worst fears would not come to pass. We decided to share our news with extended family on Easter Sunday, figuring that we could use all of the support that we could get. But the following week, we sat in the ultrasound room, hand in hand, and saw...nothing. "There's no baby," Janet said in a tearful tone that still breaks my heart when I replay it in my mind. The sonographer remained maddeningly silent, as they are instructed to do. After a brief consultation with the doctor, we were back in the reception area waiting to get paperwork and instructions for a RhoGAM shot. I felt absolutely helpless, unable to think of anything to say or do to stem my wife's tide of grief.
The next few hours were some of the longest, most tedious, and upsetting moments I can recall. There was the oblivious young pregnant woman and her equally oblivious mother carrying on loudly about their excitement over the positive outcome of an ultrasound, as Janet sat weeping ten feet away in the waiting room. I remember Janet's gobsmacked and furious response when the doctor's scheduling assistant told us that we'd have to go down to the labor and delivery area to have the shot administered. (As it turned out, there was a practical reason for that - the OB's office wouldn't be open by the time we received the RhoGAM solution from the blood clinic - but the scheduler did not communicate that to us effectively at the time.) The clinic took much longer to prepare the RhoGAM than they'd told us, and we sat stewing quietly while the staff gossiped at their desks. It seemed as though we might never get out of the hospital.
After another week of waiting in dread for nature to take its course, Janet decided to schedule a D&C to remove the fetal tissue medically. The procedure occurred without any complications, but the emotional scars persisted. As hard as it might be to go back and tell friends that you've had a miscarriage after sharing the news of conception, I think it's even harder to say, "Oh, by the way, we were expecting, but then we miscarried". We dealt with feelings of envy and sadness and even anger as family members and friends announced pregnancies and births, and subsequently felt guilty for feeling that way. There were reminders and triggers everywhere, and often it was hard to see them coming. There was a particularly stupid Burger King commercial for "chicken fries" that featured a talking chicken breaking the news to her parents that she had been impregnated by French fries. What might've elicited an eye-roll at any other time now made me furious; every time the ad popped up on TV, I scrambled to change the channel before the obnoxious punch line.
Once we got the all-clear, we began trying again, but each month that passed without a positive test was another twist of the knife. It was a cycle of cautious hope and bitter letdowns. We kept ourselves busy by searching for a new house, something we desperately needed before growing our family. Last fall, we found our grown-up house...and two days before we went to settlement, we found out that we were expecting again. That was October 25, and ten and a half weeks have somehow passed since then. I'm thrilled to tell you that all is well, and we've mercifully passed the first trimester. There have been plenty of anxious moments. We both felt a wracking fear heading into each of the first few doctor's appointments, but little "Kirjava" (another Phillip Pullman character reference) has passed every test with flying colors.
I can't tell you the relief and exhilaration we felt when we saw the sound waves of a heartbeat at six weeks, and a discernible head and rump at a seven-and-a-half-week ultrasound. The 12-week appointment brought a clearly audible and strong heart beat. With each of these positive milestones, I let the news leak out to a few more friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. I was determined to share this experience with as many people as I could this time, the better to count on their support if the worst should come to pass again. Now we can let the whole world know, and it finally seems real. July 1, give or take a few days or even weeks. Nelson Cruz's birthday, because of course that was one of the first things I checked. Thoughts/prayers/good vibes appreciated, as we've still got six long months ahead of us.