My daughter is a miracle. From conception to birth she battled to be born. Even now, as we gaze into each other’s eyes when she nuzzles and nurses, I’m amazed she is really, truly here.
Still, I can’t get enough of her and nibble her tender toes, cheeks and belly. Her skin is warm and sweet. I rub my face against her downy auburn hair and am thankful she’s alive. I’m relieved we both survived.
Getting pregnant wasn’t easy. I suffered secondary infertility after the birth of my oldest son and was diagnosed at 27 with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My odds of conceiving again were very slim – and that would be with the help of fertility aids.
One doctor told me it was a miracle I had my boy.
Another said, after ruling out Cushing’s disease, it was the worst case of PCOS she’d ever seen.
The syndrome did more than clump my eggs and prevent conception. It ravaged my health. In less than eight months I gained almost 100 pounds. My blood pressure skyrocketed to stroke levels and I was put on meds. My hair thinned to the point of embarrassment.
I went from outgoing and active to depressed and closeted. My only thought was another baby. I hated my body for denying me.
The searing grief was eventually numbed under the thick callus of time. Only, the pain didn’t truly dissipate until the birth of my youngest son. He joined our family through adoption.
After a few years hemming and hawing about adopting again, Jimmy and I decided we were content with two.
So, as you can imagine, it was a heart-jolting surprise to find out 15 years later I was expecting again.
When a tubal pregnancy was ruled out, everyone — but me — rejoiced. The protective callus I thought was gone had come back.
“I thought you’d be happy. This is the baby you wanted for so many years,” Jimmy said.
“No. That baby is down the hall, sleeping in his room.”
Jimmy gave me a perplexed look.
“It’s going to take me awhile to wrap my head around this.” He was right. I ought to be shouting with joy so loud the neighbors heard. Instead, I was terrified.
What I wouldn’t tell Jimmy … what scared me so badly … women with PCOS had high early-pregnancy miscarriage rates. I wouldn’t feel better until I could hold the baby. I promised myself I’d at least relax if I made it to 12 weeks – the time when the fetus would take over my faulty production and produce its own hormones.
As that milestone passed, I still felt the yarn of worry knotted in my stomach. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me this pregnancy was going to be rough. I could already feel it.
And each day was more difficult.
My prediction was confirmed at 15 weeks. My blood pressure was out of control and I was referred to the cardiologist. Every week or two, my meds were increased with the hope I’d stabilize.
It didn’t work. At 27 weeks I was placed on strict bed rest. By my 30-week appointment, the deterioration of my health couldn’t be denied.