Ian, I really don’t know where to begin. I can hardly believe we celebrated your fourth birthday last week. The surreal feeling of walking through the hospital doors as two and leaving as three seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. Moments after you were born, I stared into your eyes hardly believing you were mine — mine to take care of and nurture forever. You were mine, and you were here.
I wanted to wait a year to establish our marriage before we tried for children, but the best laid plans rarely work that way or follow our desired timetable and our life changed in a swift direction, fast. I never imagined that there were so many couples with fertility issues, and in fact, that I would be one of them.
Each month we waited and quietly hoped that it would be our time and we could be parents, and with each month that passed we never gave up on that hope. We read articles religiously on how with each cycle there was a 20% chance of pregnancy with every couple, and that the vast majority of pregnancies occur after a year of trying. But despite this information, I couldn’t help but sit in the bathroom and cry with every passing month, or stare at obviously pregnant women and wonder what I was doing wrong. Was I miscounting magpies? Did I need some fertility dolls? Or maybe it was just a case of getting on a plane to Asia to visit a shrine for people like us.
I couldn’t understand it, it just didn’t make sense. I didn’t want a BMW or a yacht, I wanted a child, a little one to take care of and nurture. It was a righteous desire and for reasons unknown to me – us – I was being denied something so natural.
We kept our heartache a secret from everyone. It was something we didn’t care to discuss or share with anyone: Family, friends or colleagues. I didn’t want or need to hear the commiserative, “stop trying to try” or the ever popular, “everything happens for a reason” mantra with the emphatic knee pat at no extra charge. It became difficult enough watching other peoples’ fertility run around without a marching band of reproductive enthusiasts to share it with. Then again, with every month that passed, it got increasingly more difficult and moral was fading fast.
I stopped crying after seven cycles.
After a year I sought out a Gynecologist, one that I thought might help, but in hindsight didn’t specialise in any reproductive issues. She advised me to track my BBT (Basal Body Temperature) for three cycles. Each morning as soon as I flicked my eyes open, I had to reach across to my nightstand and take my temperature with as little movement as possible and then chart it. Months later, as I sat in her office waiting for some sort of prognosis, she glanced over my line chart and mumbled with gritted enthusiasm, “well, it appears as if you’re ovulating.” I was no expert, but even I knew that wasn’t true. The lines I had created rarely spiked, if at all. Little did I know my years of bragging to schoolmates that I had no PMT (tension) came with a sorry price tag, one that would come back to haunt me later in life.
Seven months later, we moved from our two-bedroom apartment into our first home and we were no further forward than we had been a year earlier. After we were settled in, Bryan looked through the Yellow Pages, found the section we needed and phoned a clinic hoping they could direct us. They were a OB/GYN clinic, but one of their doctors also specialised in infertility and high risk pregnancies. The receptionist shuttled us to the right doctor and made an appointment for us.
It was mid-September of 2003 when we walked into the doctors’ office that resembled a spacious, beautifully designed lodge more than it did a place to practice medicine. The dimly lit, expansive room was filled with brown leather couches and mission-style chairs, beautiful wooden floors and an open, ceiling-to-floor stone fireplace. I felt at ease instantly.
It was there I met Dave. Not Dr. so-and-so. Just Dave. Of all the doctors I have met in my life, this man tops my list – and not just for the obvious reasons either. He was charismatic, but in a gentle non-assuming way. He smiled, he listened, he asked questions and he sympathised. His unspoken words spoke volumes too. His bedside manner was exceptional and I would have gladly shared all my medical history with this man just so he could make me feel better about everything.
It wasn’t an appointment, it was a therapy session.
He asked me the routine questions: How long is your cycle? How long have you been trying? Have you tracked your BBT? And more. When I mentioned my chart, I told him of my concerns and he said he wanted to try something. Then a question I wasn’t expecting: “Which day of your cycle are you on right now?” “Day 5”, I said proudly. “Perfect. I want to try you on a 5-day regimen and then after that, have intercourse on Day 10, Day 12, Day 14 and 16.” This was already more than anyone else had done for us.
Interesting. No more 11, 13, 15 and 17. It seemed so foreign to me all of a sudden.
There was something about it, a feeling I can’t really describe. I just knew. I wasn’t even technically late the morning I ran downstairs in the dark and took the pregnancy test. A positive. I had to blink and just make sure. I was quiet for the very first time. I just sat for hour-long seconds and stared at the little piece of technology I had just peed on that changed my life.
As I walked quietly back into our bedroom and slipped back under the covers, I leaned over to where my husband lay and whispered, “Bryan, I’m pregnant” : The words I had longed to say in two very long years. We hugged, weeping together, unable to really come to terms with the reality of the situation.
It was a Saturday, the 19th of June and the day before Father’s Day; five o’clock and definitely time for dinner. The nurse handed you to me and smiled. I studied your sweet face, counted your fingers and toes and kissed your tiny forehead. You made me a mother and stole my heart. I will never forget that day.
I have loved watching you grow and learn, and despite how hard some stages have been, I decided a long time ago to stop wishing them away and embrace everything. Thank you for reminding me what it’s like to be four.
Oh, and if your brother ever asks about his middle name, just tell him about Dave.
1 day old
6 months old
2 years old
He wanted to go outside, but knew he needed socks and shoes. So he put daddy’s on.
3 years old