It’s never a good thing when your husband pulls over on the side of the highway and says, “we need to talk.” We were driving home on Easter from a family egg hunt and dinner, and this exact scenario played out. What? Gah? But we’ve only been married like a year…we had such a fun day. Noticing the look on my face, he immediately started laughing and reassured me that his words had come out wrong. Ya think?!
He proceeded to explain that he was ready to be a father. He wanted to have a baby. He shared his joys of wanting a little baby to hold and a little playmate to take to family events. It melted my heart. And made me cry.
Because just over a year before this, we found out that we probably wouldn’t be able to have children. After months (heck, years) of being sick, I finally went to the doctor and checked every little box on the form of any symptom I ever possibly could have maybe had. Quick diagnosis by the doctor: you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I had never heard of this, but immediately knew what it meant; I mean, break it down. My ovaries don’t work. They form cysts instead of releasing eggs. A blood and hormone test confirmed ridiculously out-of-whack levels. The doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis: I can’t have children. She recommended we see a fertility specialist at least two years before really wanting a baby, and said with some of the levels, it was going to be a long road.
So I gave Eric the option of breaking-off our engagement. He laughed and said that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard. He didn’t even really want kids. We could retire at 50 and move to the Caribbean. And if we decided that we wanted we kids, we could adopt. Or foster. Or steal some cute kids from somewhere (my nieces and nephews were also top options). And now, here we were, sitting on the side of I-75 discussing having kids.
I was always pretty certain that a fertility specialist wasn’t in the plan; I couldn’t imagine all of that stress. And I always, always, always had the feeling that maybe God had bigger plans for us, and that maybe there was a reason we couldn’t have children of our own. So I knew that I needed to go about this whole havin’ babies thing as naturally as possible and be open to God’s plan. So I told Eric I would research options and we would revisit this discussion in a week. I mean, cause seriously, he may change his mind the next day anyway after the holiday-high wore off.
I spent hours and hours reading about PCOS and fertility treatments and stories from women who were in the same boat. It’s amazing, AMAZING, how many women are going through the same thing. It was these success stories with happy endings that motivated and gave me hope that I might possibly be able to do this. (SPOILER ALERT: Our story has a happy ending, so I suppose by oversharing here it might help someone else.)
It seemed that diet, exercise, and a general reluctance to modern western medicine was key. I quit dairy, most starches, and sugar cold-turkey. These were replaced with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. It seems difficult, but within mere days I felt better than ever and was actually repulsed by some of my former favorite foods (like milk). I also did acupuncture and herbal supplements. Within a month, I had my first “natural” menstrual period since I could remember. Each month brought good results, and charting basal body temperature indeed started to show that I was ovulating. It still took almost 18 months before we got a positive pregnancy test, but this was all work that helped to have a healthy pregnancy.
Though I can honestly say we never got frustrated during the process and life never turned into “OMG, we HAVE to have a baby”, there was something about Christmas Eve last year that hit me; I wanted this year to be the year that we got our baby. I said a little prayer. Our baby was due Sept. 24, exactly 9 months later. (Yes, I know we’re a week off there, but still.) Truly blessed doesn’t begin to describe it, and knowing this baby was meant for us and given to us in God’s time makes him all the more special.
Besides the prayer, we like to joke that the formula for having a baby is:
Quit trying + Barefoot Moscato + Cat Pajamas =Baby
I don’t really drink alcohol, but on Christmas Eve I had a glass of Moscato. We also had a family pajama exchange where Eric and I got matching pj’s with cats on them. They were so sexy that one thing led to another and…jk, jk (I think).
That being said, I was 8 weeks pregnant before I suspected anything. Charting? Out the window with the holidays. In fact, we were planning a trip to Europe thinking that a baby wasn’t in the cards for awhile. While at a game night with some friends, we played Boxers and Briefs, and the card was “I need to take a pregnancy test.” It was given to me. I made a joke, but as the night went on, I started thinking…I am a little late, though I’m not all that regular. I have felt a little “sick”. And what was that the other night when I was shivering and took my temperature and it was high And then Wednesday and Thursday I had called off work because I was having horrible stomach pains and nausea. I slept all weekend. Seriously all weekend. And my breasts—couldn’t look at them without them hurting. Monday & Tuesday I woke up and immediately was so nauseous I hit the floor. Hmm…perhaps I should take a pregnancy test. I came home for lunch from work and peed on the stick, and I didn’t even get the cap on before a strong positive appeared. I spent the rest of my lunch pacing up and down the hallway going “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” And shaking with excitement/anxiety/I don’t really know. All I knew is that I couldn’t wait to tell Eric. I went back to work and sent him an IM: “Don’t be late tonight, I have a surprise for you!” Now he immediately thought “baby”, but sent back: “Does it rhyme with Amy?” Well, no. So he was crushed. Someone needs to go back to 1st grade and learn their rhymes…
I told him when he walked in door that I had a movie night planned and got a new movie.
He didn’t get it. I had to explain it. It was lame. But he was excited, and I was excited, but when Eric gets too excited he shuts down, so he basically just sat on the couch looking up minivans and houses all night. But by the next day, he wanted to shout it from the rooftops and was begging to tell everyone, and almost slipped up a few times at work and dropped hints. We decided to wait until after the first trimester and a meeting with the doctor before we told anyone, mostly because I was so certain that something was going to be wrong; I mean, we tried, and then it just happened; it all seemed so easy; could we really be blessed not only with a baby, but a happy, healthy pregnancy?
My first doctor’s appointment was a week later. Do you know how hard it is to find a doctor? Gah. I knew that I wanted a natural, drug-free birth (natural had gotten me this far), but how do you find a doctor on board with that? Especially in a town when only one doctor, yes one, has a website. Needless to say, Dr. Bradley was chosen based on his website. Ha! Though, of course he had the credentials and personality that I welcomed. I still wanted a midwife, but was too concerned about complications resulting from PCOS to not have an OB/GYN. The first appointment went well, though they couldn’t find a heartbeat (still a little too early-Gah-then why check?!). The next appointment found a gloriously strong heartbeat and the next showed us this little cutie:
Our little guy. Baby Eric. Our Matty. I wanted a boy, Eric wanted a girl. He was immediately won over by this little squirmer, though. He saw the playmate potential. Aside from a scare with blood platelets and slightly elevated blood sugar levels in week 27 (both of which turned out to be normal ranges for me and a total non-issue with a slight change in diet), we had a perfectly wonderful pregnancy. Minimal morning sickness. Two “babymoons”. Lots of weekend trips to Cincinnati. No strange cravings (well, except for a particular donut, but more on that later.) Though I had bouts of exhaustion, I also had spurts of adrenaline and was able to stay pretty active and get projects done. At no time did I feel “done” or ready to “get this kid out”. Ok, ok, maybe once or twice after waking up every 15 minutes to pee (especially when carpal tunnel reared its ugly head at week 38). Oh, and maybe after I threw up at the NASCAR race in July and some random drunken gentleman held my hair and gave me a bottle of water while Eric yelled at a cop (it’s one of his many talents). I tried to take it easy and had a wonderful work situation that allowed me to work part-time the last month. Yes, I worked until the week before I delivered, though I originally planned to take off during June. I spent this week off preparing for labor: reading about Hypnobirthing, relaxing techniques, and by the end of it, I was ready to drive to Tennessee to deliver in the forest with the bunnies at The Farm.
I felt Baby Matty’s first kick on April 27th. We were having some really bad storms which resulted in the tornado sirens going off. It was the most distinct and awesome feeling, almost indescribable. Eric felt him kick for the first time on June 1st. He wasn’t too happy, considering he was being kicked in the back while we were snuggling and sleeping. He actually saw the baby kick on June 13th while we were lounging by the pool in Gatlinburg; I had a string on my bathing suit and every time Matty kicked, the string would twitch. I think Eric watched this for a good 10 minutes.
At my 37 week appointment, I was 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced. This was motivating. At my 38 week appointment, I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. He highly doubted I would make it to my next week’s appointment. I had discussed my birth plan with him, but for some unknown reason, he still asked if I wanted to be induced. Yes…he didn’t think I would make it 7 more days, and I wasn’t even to my due date, but he recommended induction. W.T.F.? He thought I might be uncomfortable and I had a good chance of an induction going well…Seriously?! No, thanks. When I told him I was leaving my appointment to go shopping he looked at me like I was insane. He gave me all of my free samples and sent me on my way. I went into labor 4 days later.
Though I think the Red Raspberry Leaf tea, the 50 squats per day, the walking, and the positive attitude played huge roles, I have to say it was the sprinkle donut from Central Pastry that did it…you see, when I was little, I would find spare change and walk/skate to a local donut shop and get a sprinkle donut. Mmmm…
During my pregnancy, from Day 1, I had dreams, DREAMS, about these donuts. And for as often as we traveled to Cincinnati, we could never seem to make our way to Middletown to make a stop. The day before I went into labor, Eric and I made a compromise: I would travel 2 hours to Cincinnati so he could go go-kart racing at a new place (he had a great lap time–go him!), if he took me to Central Pastry. So Eric, “the guys”, and I loaded into the car and headed South. Of course, when we got there, they were out of sprinkle donuts. OUT! I asked if it was possible if they could make me one, and they made me 3. Those ladies are FANTASTIC! I hung out at Eric’s parents, eating my donuts, while the boys manly men went go-kart racing. That’s all our little guy wanted—he began his arrival about 12 hours later…and the great thing was I still had a donut left to eat after delivery…