It’s A Girl!?!

Surgical lights flooded the room casting shadows of two doctors, two nurses, and my husband.  Flat on my back looking up toward the heavens, my heart prayed for her to be alright. The doctor relayed a play by play like a baseball game announcer on an am radio station.  Medical personnel scattered to and fro following her orders. My husband held my left hand and squeezed it twice. He was smiling and nodding while his other hand caressed my face.  A sharp metal on metal sound jerked my head away from facing him. A nurse had dropped something on a tray and hurried to roll some machine across the room.

“She’s out.” The doctor’s drone like emotionless voice said.  My husband echoed her statement. With my breath held hostage in my lungs, I waited.  At some point my mind started counting. One…two… twelve…thirty-four…fifty-eight,,,a loud cry from the corner and tears streamed down filling my ear.  Before I knew it, the nurse brought a tiny yellow blanket bundle to me with a face the size of a small apple and coffee brown eyes refusing to blink looking at me.  I smiled and said hi to the little one who had spent the last two months tap dancing on my bladder.

I knew from my second ultrasound that I was going to give birth to a girl.  What that meant for me as a mother was never clear until I saw her small, fragile tiny face.  She was born six weeks early and would no doubt have struggles as a result.

Growing up as a female in America is an obstacle course full of physical and emotional pitfalls.  Girls are expected to dress, speak, and act a certain way. Girls get blamed for just about everything that happens to them.  If a boy teases her, it’s her fault because the boy is just expressing that he likes her. If another girl teases, her, it’s her fault because the other girl is jealous of something about her.  As she grows, she is told that if she dresses a certain way and gets attention, or eve assaulted, it’s because she wanted it. This poor girl is responsible for how she behaves and how everyone else around her behaves.  Basically, being a girl is hard. How would I be able to guard, guide, and equip this little baby girl for the hostile world she is going to encounter?

To Get An Answer

When we last left our heroine, she was waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Like the breaking of the dawn, the little pink line slowly worked its way across the window.  The first line, indicating that the test was working was a bright flamingo pink. This second line resembled blush on barbie doll, faint, but just enough to recognize its existence.  Butterflies cautiously began to flutter in my stomach. At least I thought it was butterflies. For the first time in two years, I began to think it might be a little adorable clump of cells.  I was excited, but cautious the way a child is on Christmas morning, hoping that Santa brought her wishes but not getting too excited just incase the gift giver forgot something. The second test was as clear as mud in the dark.  The control line came in strong, but the results line only came in halfway. Final verdict…I was pregnant? Yay?

I was more confused than ever at that point.  I returned to the bedroom to a gently snoring sleeping man and slipped back into the bed.  He stirred and slipped his arm around me. He asked it everything was alright. I said no. He mumbled a sleepy reply. I laid there trying to get comfortable. Trying to make sense of it all.  At some point, I dozed off. I was awaken by a rather loud, “what!” Instinctively reaching out or him, I found his side of the bed empty. His six foot frame came stumbling like a newly turned zombie with a test in each hand.  I sat up and looked at him while shrugging my shoulders. We discussed if the tests where accurate and began to research ways to find out for sure. Calling a my healthcare provider, who promises to help their patients “thrive”, yielded the expected outcome of come and take a urine test in the lab.  Our excitement grew. The lab would be open in thirty minutes and then we would so know for sure. I began to drink several glasses of orange juice and water to build up enough ammunition in my bladder. It wasn’t until I had registered and been given the urine sample cup that I was told that given my urine would not be adequate because of a few false positives in my chart. The technician recommended that I do a blood test as well.  I agreed and was told that the results would be available within 48 hours. 2 days! I was on the verge of tears when a fellow patient in the lab, who had clearly been listening to the whole ordeal, suggested I go to a community clinic that could do a urine test with same day results. There was hope.

After breakfast and more liquids, we headed downtown to a local women’s clinic.  They asked me questions about my last cycle dates and collected my sample. It was the practice of the clinic to take the woman back for the exam and test by herself.  My partner had to wait in the lobby. Since then I asked him what that was like for him. He said all he could do was call his mom to keep his mind occupied because he was nervous. Sometimes I think I forget how hard all this had been on him.  In what, he assures me, was only 20 minutes (It felt like a million minutes), this small clinic had been able to tell me what two tests and a major medical conglomerate could not. It was about 11:00 am on a Monday. I came out of the clinic to find him in the courtyard on the phone.  I walked up to him with a folded sheet of paper and a poker face blank stare that would make the best card shark question his hand. He turned towards me and tried to read the look on my face. Trying hard not to give anything away, I asked him what he was doing in September. He asked why and I told him he was going to be a daddy.  What felt like the end of a journey, was only the beginning.

Three Long Ass Minutes

When I started this blog, I set a goal for myself to post every Thursday and Sunday.  The best of intentions get sidetracked by the rest of life. That’s what happened when I was told that I could not conceive a child through good old fashioned methods.  I made other plans. I continued working and was set to begin a graduate program at the local state university. Here’s what happened…

October 2001

As I mentioned in a previous post, my cousin gave birth to a baby and I was devastated.  It seemed like everyone could have a child but me. Joy in everyday things was nonexistent.  I went through the motions. Work, school, sleep. Work, school sleep. More of the same. For months life continued this way.

November 2001

Nothing monumental.  Life as usual. Oddly enough, I continued to hit my menstrual cycle like clockwork the last week of the month.

December 2001

Christmas!  Guaranteed to lift my spirits.  At least it always had in the past.  Red, green, yellow, blue, and white twinkling lights dancing to the smell of pine and warm fires.  All was well, until the last week of the month. Monday came, but spotting did not. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday more of the same.  I didn’t think too much about it. I figured that my uterus was up to its old tricks of withholding. Around new years eve, I was feeling under the weather and we stayed home.  I was spending quite a bit of time emptying my bladder and complaining about breast soreness. I was aware that these are often symptoms of being with child, but the specialists told me that wasn’t possible without intervention.  I thought there was no way that I could be pregnant.

January 2002

Around the middle of the month, I began to get curious.  Was it possible? Could the doctors be wrong? I went to the local dollar store with the hopes of finding a cheap test, just to check.  The dollar store did not disappoint. They carried two different types of pregnancy tests and one ovulation test. I purchased the two pregnancy tests and a peanut butter cup covered in chocolate.  Nothing left to do but wait till the morning, when the tests claimed that I would get the most accurate result. Spinning in my head all night, I was sure the sun would never rise. I didn’t want to tell my partner, because I didn’t want to get his hopes up if it was all in my head. Sleep did not come easy.  If I was not shaking like a paint can being mixed, I was tossing and turning like mixed vegetables in a woc.

Three minutes.  Pee on the stick and wait three minutes.  I don’t know if you know how long three minutes are.  I’ll explain. Three minutes is straightening up the sink and realizing that you have two minutes left.  It is cleaning the toilet only to discover that in one minute your whole world might change.

PCOS 2

When you try to not see something, that’s when you see it everywhere.  I wanted a baby, but couldn’t have one and started seeing babies everywhere.  Stork covered cards with good wishes were passed around work in plain manilla folders like vital documents.  The bank teller waddled to the safe in her “bun in the oven” tunic and leggings. Every woman on the sidewalk had a stroller, baby carrier, or the sticky hand of a toddler struggling to keep up.  The couple in front of me in the check out line bought diapers and formula while they giggled about sonogram pictures and heartbeat sounds. And then, to add the cherry to the sundae of misery, a cousin of mine had a baby four months earlier than she should have.  I was expected to visit and be supportive and crap. Yeah, I said it. Crap. The last thing I wanted was to see anyone’s child. Especially the child of someone that I thought didn’t deserve a child. Sounds harsh, I know. I would venture to say that every woman who has struggled with infertility has passed silent judgment on those around her who seem to be able to conceive with just the mere thought of sex.  We don’t like thinking about those thoughts. We are just so hurt and scared that it won’t ever happen for us.

For the next few months, I would lay awake nights with silent tears slipping down my cheeks and hiding in the creases of my neck as my husband lay there snoring peacefully.  Despite him being there every day and being supportive, I felt terribly alone and defective. Women are supposed to have babies. It’s one of the primary things that makes us women. With the frequent facial hair removal, I needed something to make me feel like a woman.  I could grow a beard but not a baby. And that just plain sucked. A gripping spiral depression had me in its clutches and was fighting to keep me there. To make matters worse, the winter chill settled in and drove the optimism of the sun far from me.

Meanwhile, I had managed to lose another job. I had started graduate school and was looking forward to classes starting in late January.  Depression does not stop us from being active, it just makes it harder to be active. Part of the PCOS madness is emotional unrest. This can range from mild mania to deep depression in a lot of women.  The future was getting brighter, or maybe I was just too busy to notice that nothing really had changed.

PCOS

I always felt that I was different somehow.  I just wasn’t really sure how. As my body morphed from prepubescent to adolescence, my doctor had no problem defining the difference.  The telltale signs of irregular menstrual cycles and stray strands of unwanted facial hair confirmed a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  This was nearly 30 years ago when much was not known about the disgusting disease. The condition was blamed on my weight and I was told that if I lost 20 pounds, I would be cured.  Well, I did that and guess what? Still had fifteen day periods and a beard. So, clearly, weight wasn’t the issue. This was solidified for me when I met a young woman at the specialist’s office who was a size 2.  She was told it was in her genes and there was nothing that could be done. I felt defeated and helpless.

Girls are not supposed to have facial hair. My peers, especially the male ones, never let me forget that I was a freak.  The girls were a bit better and more understanding. Some of them struggled with similar issues or had aunts or cousins that did. It wasn’t until I was in college that I would meet friends who had hairy upper lips and bizarre cycles.  In an all-female dorm, there was a mix of everything. Unfortunately, the teasing did not stop with adolescence. It carried on throughout college and my weight increased as a result of feeding the hurt.

In my late twenties, I met a man.  A man who was aware of my condition because his family members had the same issues.  He was understanding and supportive. Our relationship grew and soon marriage was on the table. We both wanted children and with some research understood how PCOS causes fertility issues in women.  Returning to the same specialist who diagnosed me with this hideous disease, we were hoping for some good news. Ok, well, maybe not good, but at least not devastatingly bad. Sitting in that office, that had not changed much in the past decade or so, I was surrounded by girls and women who held their head down or wore a bit too much concealer and foundation to mask the large pores from the hair follicles on their face, chins, and necks.  I too worked to blend the shame of this manly feature. Leafing through magazines in the waiting room, I came across an article linking the hormone imbalances that cause PCOS to increases in weight because of insulin resistance. The ah-ha moment rushed over me. PCOS was the cause of the weight. It was the cause of diabetes. It was the cause of the hair. I also found out that day, that it was the cause of my inability to get pregnant.  Two years of trying, only to be told that I should stop because it would never happen. The doctor said science would have “to do it for me.” My eyes wept while my lips smiled. Having an answer, I relaxed. I was not the lone freak I had grown up believing I was.

Getting Started

I am usually very good at getting a conversation started.  The exception is when I have honestly don’t know how to begin, where to start or what to open with.  Essentially, I got nothin’.  All I know for sure is that what I am going through demands to be written about and explored.  Any test of courage that requires sheer faith and fortitude to pull through, lends itself to the writing of epics.  Epic poems generally begin with a quest.  I don’t know if I would classify my impending journey as a quest.  There are definitely heroic elements to this tale.  Homer could not have imagined the twists and zags this journey will take the heroine on.  As I stand at the precipice of an uphill climb on a downhill slope, I question the sanity of the attempt.  The sanity of the first step.  By definition, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  What then, is doing a different thing and expecting the same result?