This blog is meant to be about embarking on a journey into fatherhood, and I’ve started writing it well before the birth of our first child. Here’s the thing though: This isn’t really our first child. I’ll explain…
My wife and I have been together for a while now. We met online, and had our first date on February 7, 2006. We dated a few months before moving in together later that year. We lived according to a plan that never seemed to go the way we intended. I worked for just above minimum wage while finishing grad school. After I graduated I struggled to find a job, but eventually did.
The next step was to get engaged. The day was February 7, 2009, and I had a charming plan for how to pop the question. My plan fell apart, it somehow turned into a fight, and I ended up proposing in the middle of it (she said yes and didn’t make me try again.)
We got married, and the next step after that was to buy a house. We fell in love with a place, only for it to not pass the inspection. After several more months of searching we found our home though, and it was time to start our family.
We tried, but nothing happened.
A few months became a year, then two years. Doubts began to creep in about whether we could have the family we had both always wanted, planned for, and assumed would be in our future. We sought help through a fertility specialist. Then came the sacrifices – almost all of which were borne by my wife. An avid half-marathoner, she cut back training and practically put her favorite hobby and stress release on hold. There were pills and other treatments and a willingness to try just about anything the doctor could suggest (“We’ve had luck with macadamia nuts.”) There was surgery to treat endometriosis.
Then it happened.
On February 7, 2015 my wife told me she was pregnant. She told me everything was about to change, and she was right. I looked into the mirror that night and realized that the person looking back at me was about to fundamentally change, and I was overcome with fear and excitement and awe..
We still had frequent with the fertility specialist they shifted in their focus. We saw a heartbeat and got sonograms to take home and fawn over. We dove head-first into all of the things that you have to start to think about when you’re going from being just the two of your to the two of you plus one. We made lists, we started buying diapers and gear. We are planners, and in our minds you can’t really start on that stuff too early.
The ten-week mark arrived, and we had another appointment with the specialist. It was to be our last one before graduating to the regular obstetrician. Our appointment was first thing in the morning and it all went so fast… ultrasound, no heartbeat, an “I’m so sorry.” Before we knew it, we were leaving the office and getting into separate cars on our way to our respective offices for the work day, no longer parents-to-be.
That was the first miscarriage. We experienced two more over the course of eighteen months. With each one came the nagging uncertainty over whether we would even conceive again after that, and then if we did, whether or not we could keep the little one. It all felt futile at times. It makes you question your purpose in life, and everything that you thought you had been planning and building toward. It makes you imagine the worst case scenario in every hopeful situation.
My wife was a superhero through the whole thing. She endured feelings of grief and hopelessness. She had surgeries. She took on new and strange medications, including daily injections of blood thinner. She got poked and prodded and had blood drawn and every other manner of invasive and persistent testing that you could imagine. She stayed strong and didn’t give up. Now here we are, about five weeks from the birth of our fourth first child.
We still carry scars. We still grieve. We feel blessed that we have a little one on the way now, having long made it past the point in pregnancy where we experienced loss on the previous occasion. In spite of the joy and excitement that we feel though, there is also a touch of sadness. You never really put the grief behind you, but you find a way to carry on.