"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Monday, January 13, 2014

Peanut: The Little One, version 2

I've written a few pieces in past years about my experience carrying and birthing and adjusting to life with my first child, Lucy, under the title "the Little One" and I'd like to record a few of the special moments with this baby #2.  As I mentioned before, we've decided not to find out the gender, but I've given him or her a nickname: Peanut.  This is the story of finding that name.  

(Feeling like maybe I should put a note here that this post is about my mental struggle as we tried to conceive;  it contains a few references to functions of the female reproductive cycle... like, if any of that makes you uncomfortable, you can just quit reading now.)

We had been trying to conceive for six months.  It wasn't really that long, in the grand scheme of infertility, but longer than I had expected.   We had always practiced natural family planning and I've always been careful to monitor my cycles to try to stay healthy and ready.  I had secretly expected a surprise, or that at the very least it would only take a few months when we really started trying again.  That's how things went with Lucy.  I had run over the happy scenarios in my mind, the Skype calls with family and friends.

So it felt like a punch in the stomach when, after month after month went by unsuccessfully , my sister-in-law skyped with her happy news.  I tried really hard to be happy for her, but my face felt numb as a rubber mask.  I knew my smiles looked as fake as they felt.  I had so selfishly wanted to be first.

I wasn't in the best shape mentally.  I had been struggling with anxiety, depression and attentional problems for months.  It had helped a little bit to leave Facebook and its peculiar temptations, but I also felt isolated and unsure how to connect with anyone anymore.  I think my body's nutrient store was depleted by extended nursing, especially of Omega 3s--the brain's primary food.**  But I had convinced myself that there had to be something else deeply wrong in my body.  So when we went to visit family in Calgary I was open with people when they hinted good-naturedly that Lucy was beautiful and wasn't it about time for a sibling? 

We were trying.  It wasn't working.  I was worried.

I was still nursing Lucy and I didn't want to wean, but I had finally decided a few months before our trip that I must be one of those women who can't get pregnant while she's still nursing (no matter how infrequently).  So I talked it over with Lucy.  She was going to have to stop drinking mommy milk because we wanted to have a new baby.  She didn't really comprehend, but she could tell it was something Mommy needed.  She's a very sensitive little girl.  She was almost two, but I had so loved our precious cuddle times together, the faraway, satisfied look in her eyes while nursing.  I cried silent tears the last time she nursed, her body too still, slightly wary, both of us knowing that this was the end of something we had enjoyed, me longing so desperately for it to be the beginning of something else.

I was sure that my period would come while we were still in Calgary.  Again.  I was steeled against feeling bad about it.  I would enjoy the things that I couldn't enjoy if I were pregnant.  Wine with dinner and after dinner.  Coffee.  Small indulgences.

My basal temperature dipped.  I started feeling crampy.  Any day now, guaranteed.

I moved on with life.  We made a special trip to pick up my corn-free coffee.  No use even waiting.  Then a few days went by and I started to wonder what was going on.

The second to last day before we returned home, I had some quiet time alone in the morning while Clint slept and his mom watched Lucy upstairs.  I sat and thought looking out the window at the cloudy late-summer morning.  Still no bleeding.  Well, what the heck?  Why not try one of those pregnancy tests I had stashed away in my bag from a previous month like this when my period had come before I could put them to use?  I prayed in the silence and checked in with myself.  Did I really want to know?

My hands were shaking.  I set the test on the bathroom counter.

Two lines.  Pregnant.

There were no words.  I couldn't believe it.  It wasn't possible.  My temperature had gone down.  That was it.  Your temperature has to stay up to grow a baby, that's the whole point of the hormone progesterone (or something like that). 

When Clint finally got up a few minutes later and headed toward the bathroom I told him in a stunned voice.  "There's a surprise for you on the counter."  Those were about the only words I had in me.

When we told some friends that day, friends I had just told about my anxieties that something was wrong, friends who know about the real pain of prolonged infertility and who had given me some naturopathic advice, when I told them, I just slipped it into the conversation nonchalantly, noncomittally, like it was nothing special, just a thing like any other thing.  Because it was very early and I was so sure that it wouldn't stick.  I was trying not to get my hopes up.  But I wanted them to know, because we wouldn't see them for a while and I couldn't imagine not having their prayers.

But when we left that day they said, "Goodbye, Laura, we love you.  Goodbye, little Peanut, we love you too." 

And suddenly, for a least a moment, it felt real, way to good to be true, but real:

No matter what happened or how long I carried this baby, I could let my tender heart love my tiny little Peanut, my little invisible miracle, and it would be ok.  It would be ok.

**Nursing moms out there: unless you eat mercury-free fish every single day, find a good supplement (free of heavy-metals) NOW, I'm not even joking!  Don't wait until you feel depleted, spacy and bummed out like I did!  Ok, I'm done being bossy. ;)

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