I remember getting the news through a voicemail while I was at work: I was officially pregnant. After wading through the IVF process for almost a year and a half, I had gotten lucky and I was grateful. I knew we weren’t out of the woods, but had a feeling that once this plucky little embryo got a taste of the banquet stored within my internal picnic basket, she would stay for the feast. Cubby (which was the generic name for my new guest) was no fool.
Not being able to tell people until the first trimester was over was tough but it proved to be a good call. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I experienced the one hiccup in my pregnancy called a subchorionic hematoma. This occurs when the fetus has a growth spurt and the placenta partially detaches from the uterine wall (must’ve been those yummy burgers from Wild Willys encouraging her along). Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I was constantly monitored but every time I experienced the intense bleeding that occurs with this condition, it was always cause for a wave of fresh concern. Luckily, the situation improved by the last few months of my pregnancy.
Outside of this hiccup, my pregnancy moved along without too many other waves. I chose the Midwifery program at Mt. Auburn Hospital to usher me through the months leading up to and including my delivery. Through their program, I would have the best chance to try for a natural delivery, but would also have doctors close by in case there were problems (this was a concern due to my age). I was told that gaining between 10 to 15 lbs was ideal since I already carried a bit of extra weight with me – I took this recommendation very seriously. I was also lucky enough to have someone like Bec Conant of OmBirths move into my favorite neighborhood yoga studio, Inner Strength, so that I had access to yoga once more through her prenatal classes. It felt strange to be in such familiar territory doing something so new to me, but I welcomed the chance to move and learn, my knowledge of pregnancy massage interweaving with each class.
A few days before I was due, I went to the hospital with concerns about a drop in Cubby’s movement. While the baby ended up being fine, I ended up being admitted for proteinuria, the predecessor to pre-eclampsia. Being so focused on what was going on with Cubby, I hadn’t noticed that my face and hands had gotten puffy and swollen. Since the doctors didn’t want me to experience a further increase in blood pressure, I was confined to bedrest. This meant that all those classes on walking and moving to combat labor pains were out the window. So, several hours after being induced, I gave in to the epidural and waited for what felt like an eternity. My husband, Christophe, slept in a chair next to me holding my hand. When the time came to push, I did my best for three hours but ended up having the baby taken by suction. Two tiny squawks later, there she was sitting on my chest, eyes fixed on me. She had a full head of dark hair complete with salon-worthy frosted tips. I thought all babies came out bawling, but not this lassie. She was crazy calm and just kept staring at me. There was a flurry of activity going on around us but I barely registered a thing. I just saw her: my Madeleine.
Tomorrow she will be four years old. Gone is the first year where I thought I’d break her at every turn. Gone are the years where I had no idea what she needed since she didn’t have language yet (I never quite developed the ability to discern the “hungry” cry from the “poopy diaper” cry). What has been constant, though, and will always remain so, is my amazement of her existence. I’m profoundly grateful to my husband for being willing to embark on the long, winding journey of IVF with me and experience those early years of fatherhood again (he already has two beautiful daughters from a previous marriage). He proves every day that his love is vast and full of many puppet voices. I’m grateful that I live in a place where the Mind/Body connection is recognized and supported. And, I’m grateful that, in the end, I get to watch this sweet, fierce soul grow within the universe of my arms every day.