What a long year it’s been.
And it’s only January 16.
My return to work was met with my general ‘announcement’ of pregnancy. I told my immediate coworkers, the teacher under whom I work, who was admittedly suspicious already. She expressed her disdain that I would be leaving by proclaiming, “I don’t know why people have to have kids.” Charming, indeed. She is a different duck, that one.
I informed the principal via email, largely for the fact that she’s difficult to track down, but perhaps even more so because I am truly not an ‘announcement’ type of gal. Gradually I began peppering it into conversations, informing coworkers here and there, all of whom already knew. Let’s face it, I am not exactly flat stomached and Christmas weight only goes so far.
I had my 20 week ultrasound, all is well, all structures and valves and various necessary components are present. We found out that we are having a girl, despite what I had personally suspected. My husband was a little disappointed, but quite promptly began treating me like a sacred vessel a few days later.
I fought with my doctor, who failed to follow up on my maternal serum screening, the initial test to find out if the baby has a chance of a chromosomal disorder, Down’s syndrome, trisomy, etc. As a result of him failing to check after nearly 8 weeks with no results, at my January appointment, he finally called the lab and eventually discovered that I was never tested. my blood was drawn, the paperwork filled out but the test was scrapped and we were not informed. By this point I was past 22 weeks. Typically too late to test. (To clarify, my husband and I never had intentions of termination should we have an anomaly appear, we only wanted to be informed.)
Needless to say, I was extremely angry at the failure to follow through. Previously during this pregnancy, my doctor completely forgot to book my 12 week ultrasound. I haven’t been impressed, and anyone who’s read way back may have seen some signs that he isn’t the ideal doctor. Sadly, after a number of after hours phone calls trying to patch up the issues, a slew of apologies from my doctor and claims that we could still do the test, my husband and I decided not to do it. We felt that any severe issues would be present on the ultrasound, which was clear of any problems. After waiting for results for 2 months, and feeling the anxiety, I knew I could not go through with that wait again. We opted not to test, and just to hope that all is well. (Yes, I would love to get a new doctor, but I live in a town so small that we have only one other doctor who will accept new patients, and he is away for 2 weeks every month. Sadly, none of them are ‘baby doctors’, so I must coast with this one until I am transferred to an OB group in the nearest town at 30 weeks.)
My husband turned 30. We spent the weekend together, indulging ourselves in laziness, food and freedom. We snowshoed through deep powdery snow. We laughed and lounged, I baked a black forest cake, we visited family.
The temperatures plummeted, a deep freeze and endless snowfall finally did cease, at least for a time, being brought in by a deep thaw and severe winds, 100km/h gust, wreaking havoc on the area, shattering signs, warping trees, peeling shingles from the houses and howling through the cracks in our lives.
It’s been a busy new year, and it’s only just begun.
The other day, at work, I discovered an envelope in my mailbox. I opened it up to find a large photograph on card stock, one that folded out to three times the size of a greeting card. It was a thank you card from my former coworker, she who’s baby was born on my first unborn baby’s due date. The photo was an absurdly large display of her little girl, with the word LOVE emblazoned across the top. Seriously, who’s got room on their fridge for this?
I looked at this little one knowing that she might’ve been mine. In my own arms now, in another world far down another path, could rest a 3 month old daughter. Somehow my irrational brain has resorted to some illogical prospect that this baby born on this date, on ‘my’ date, might’ve been my baby. She might’ve come into my arms, as though babies wait in some sort of file to be plucked on a certain day, if only their mothers can make it there unscathed.
I smiled and said the obligatory ‘aw’ as I perused the picture before tucking it away, in hopes of concealing my still uncertain steps in this territory. I left the envelope at work, strategically slipped under a folder I am not likely to open in a long while. What would I do with this photo? Take it home and look at it every day and dwell upon where I might have been.
Only a few days later, perhaps to tether me to where I truly am, the movements in my belly grew stronger. I began to be able to see my little girl’s kicks and squirms below my skin. She shuffles and dances, seemingly twirling, swirling, and cuddling below my heart. I feel her kicks like a strong and steady pulse, like a drum beat, like a metronome, solid and true. I feel her like a calm and quiet voice, speaking slowly and deliberately, calling my back to now, to here, to a place where I live as best I can, and try to remain largely unbroken. I feel that soothing voice whisper out to me.
And suddenly, I’m glad to be here too.