A Miracle Pregnancy, an Unhappy Family

I found out on Monday that I am pregnant, miraculously pregnant at age 41 with a uterine abnormality.  But since my husband and I have started sharing the news with family members, we’ve had negative reactions and heartbreak. 

My day today:

2:20 a.m. –I got up to go to the bathroom, and my husband told me that he couldn’t sleep and had been up since 12:45 a.m.  I asked what was wrong, and he started out by saying that he had “a lot on his mind,” but then admitted that a relative of his, whom I will not identify in any way to protect my husband, told him that now that I’m pregnant, “he’ll have to make twice as much money.”  This person also said that, because of my in utero exposure to the synthetic estrogen drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), which not only created my uterine abnormality, but puts me at higher risk for multiple cancers—vaginal, cervical, uterine and breast—”I might die and leave him alone with all of these children.”  He said that he’s worried about our financial situation, and it is imperative that I sell my memoir and make money off of it.  Then he said that he’s worried that, regardless of my writing talent and our great love story, “luck”—or rather lack thereof—could doom my book, because writing success doesn’t necessarily correlate with talent.   We talked until 4:30 a.m., when he left for work, and he said he felt better after sharing his anxieties with me.  I was seething when he left, thinking that this relative, who is dumping his/her irrational fears on him, will make him have a heart attack or stroke.

5 a.m.  I started reading Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father to calm myself down, then was able to get back to sleep.

7 a.m.  I woke up, showered, dressed, ate breakfast, and put on the Spiderman DVD for my 4-year-old, since he didn’t want to accompany me to the IVF clinic for my blood test.  (No, I didn’t leave him alone.  My 15- and 13-year-old stepsons are with us for our two weeks of summer vacation time with them.)

7:45 a.m.  I started my drive downtown to the IVF clinic.

8:45 a.m.  I was in the clinic for three minutes for the blood draw, and the nurse said, “Your [HCG, the pregnancy hormone] number is high. How many did they put in?” I told her two.  She said, “You’ll have your ultrasound next week, and then we’ll know how many people are in there.”

8:48 a.m.  I started my drive home.

9:45 a.m.  I stopped at our neighborhood 7-Eleven to pick up a gallon of milk.

9:50 a.m.  I arrived home to find my son watching the closing credits of Spiderman with my two stepsons still asleep.

10 a.m.  My 15-year-old stepson came down for breakfast, and I ask him how late he had stayed up.  He said that my 13-year-old stepson had a “bad feeling” last night and couldn’t sleep, so they hadn’t gone to bed until 1 a.m.  [My husband and I told our 15-year-old about the pregnancy on Monday night, while our 13-year-old was at a sleepover, and my husband told our 13-year-old last night.  Both acted fine about it, excited even, with our 15-year-old offering up a potential name, and our 13-year-old asking what the baby would look like, because I am pale with blue eyes and dirty blonde hair (which I now bleach to white-blonde), and my husband is dark-skinned with brown eyes and dark-brown hair.]  Upon hearing that our 13-year-old was later having a bad feeling, I worried that he had started considering his mother’s negative reaction to the news. 

10:15 a.m.  I drove my 15-year-old stepson, who has dyslexia, to his reading lesson. 

10:30 a.m.  I walked in with my stepson to tell his tutor about my pregnancy, because, in addition to being his tutor, she serves as an unofficial therapist.  Because, in three weeks, he is going away to a prep school that has a special language program for dyslexics, he has a great deal of life change coming his way, and the pregnancy is yet another new issue for him to adapt to, so I wanted her to be aware.  She was wonderful, hugging me, congratulating me, telling me she would talk with him about everything.

10:45 a.m.  I arrived home and brought my 4-year-old to our next-door neighbor’s yard to play with his friends, while I talked with my friend, their mother, who is also a writer (a poet) and shares my birthday, but she’s seven years younger. 

11:15 a.m.  My son and I came home, because our neighbors needed to run errands.  I spent a half-hour drafting the first part of my “How My DES Exposure Has Affected Me So Far, Part 2” post.

11:45 a.m.  I yelled upstairs to my 13-year-old stepson and 4-year-old son that we had to leave to pick up their brother from tutoring, then we were all going out to lunch.  My 4-year-old came downstairs, but not my 13-year-old.  I went up to check on him, and he was in his room, crying.  I asked what was wrong, and he said, “I just really don’t want to stay here anymore.”  I asked where he wanted to go, and he said, “My grandma’s.”  I clarified which grandma, and he wanted to visit his maternal one, who lives five minutes away.  I tried to call my husband at work, but got his voicemail.  I told my 13-year-old that he could call his grandmother, and, when I returned from my pick-up of his brother, I would drive him over there.  I left my 4-year-old with him, telling him to take care of his brother because he was sad.

11:50 a.m.  I called my husband’s work and cell phones, leaving messages on both.

12 p.m.  I arrived to pick up my 15-year-old, and he and his tutor were waiting outside.  She said that she was “ratting him out” because it was his third session in a row in which he hadn’t brought his homework.  She also said that she had talked to him about my pregnancy and a new baby brother or brothers, and he seemed to think there is a finite amount of love available in a family, but she explained that love is boundless.  On our drive home, I told him that his 13-year-old brother was crying, and he said that his brother might be upset, as he himself was, that my husband and I hadn’t told them upfront that we were thinking about having another baby.  I explained that it was such a long shot, and infertility treatments are so depressing that we didn’t want them to be emotionally involved unless we had success.  And, once we knew I was pregnant, we immediately told them.  My husband called in on my cell phone, and I updated him.  I offered to bring our 13-year-old downtown to his office, so they could be together for the afternoon.

12:15 p.m.  We arrived home, and I called my husband and put him on the phone with our 13-year-old.  I drove my other two sons out of the bedroom so my husband and 13-year-old could talk in private.

12:35 p.m.  I spoke to my husband, who asked me to drive our 13-year-old down to him.  I asked my husband if our son had been able to articulate why he had been upset, and he said that he was sad that his parents weren’t still together, that news of my pregnancy had brought up old feelings of loss related to their 2002 separation and subsequent divorce.

12:40 p.m. Early this afternoon, I was supposed to visit my friend Jessica, who just had a baby girl two weeks ago, so I could spend time with her, while my 4-year-old played with her almost-4-year-old.  I called her to tell her I had to drive downtown with my 13-year-old and could either bring my 4-year-old over for 1 p.m., then join them later, or he and I could visit around 3 p.m.  She said to drop him off.

12:45 p.m.  I grabbed my son’s bathing suit and towels, then picked up my purse.   My cell phone rang, and it was the IVF clinic calling with my blood test results.  The IVF coordinator said that my HCG level is 1300, which is “perfect,” because it was 579 on Monday, and it is supposed to double every 48 to 72 hours.  I asked if I could be pregnant with twins, because my HCG is so high, and she said, “It’s possible.”  She said that I don’t need to return until next Wednesday, when she’ll do my ultrasound, and then we’ll know for sure if I’m pregnant with one or two sons.

12:50 p.m.  I raced out the door with my son and stepson, throwing my son’s bike and bike helmet in the back of the car, because Jessica suggested that our sons could ride bikes and swim at her house. 

1 p.m.  I dropped off my 4-year-old, realizing and apologizing that I’d forgotten to bring his lunch, then got on the highway toward downtown.  It was an hour drive, and, during it, I tried to explain to my 13-year-old that it is difficult to be a child of divorce, that his feelings are normal, that he shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about his feelings, and he shouldn’t keep them bottled up.  I explained everything about our IVF cycles, about the number of eggs retrieved each time, 19 and 11, respectively; about the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) testing that identified the chromosomally abnormal embryos, six the first time and four the second time; about the baby girl that didn’t implant the first time; about our low odds of having success; about being so excited to see what the baby or babies will look like.

2 p.m.  My husband met us on the street to retrieve our son.  He kissed me, thanked me for driving down, and said, “I love you.”  But when he went to the other side of the car to open the door for our son, he freaked out, asking why our white car was so filthy.  I had no idea.  He said, “You have to wash it right now.  You have to have it washed twice, or whatever this is will never come off.”  I told him that I had left our 4-year-old with Jessica, who has a two-week-old baby and her own 4-year-old to deal with, and he could handle the car situation when he got home.

2:05 p.m.  I started driving home, but because of multiple on-ramps being closed due to construction, I couldn’t immediately figure out how to get on the highway.  After a few minutes, I realized that I had to go to the bathroom so badly that I would never make it home in time, so instead of getting on the highway, I drove to Lincoln Park, the Chicago neighborhood where we had lived before moving to the suburbs, to find a friendly place with a bathroom.  I stopped in Land of Nod, the children’s furniture and accessories store, knowing the staff would be accommodating.  The women’s restroom was occupied, and I was so desperate that I considered going into the men’s.  But, I made it.  But, not only did I urinate, but also got horrifically sick with diarrhea.  When I’m stressed out, my stomach is always affected, and today has been unbelievably brutal.

2:20 p.m.  I hadn’t eaten lunch, so I stopped at Subway for a six-inch sub, barbeque potato chips and a lemonade.  I practically stuffed the bag of chips down my throat, but, considering safety while driving, I saved my sandwich.

3 p.m.  I arrived at Jessica’s, sat down and focused solely on eating.  We talked about our 4-year-old sons’ bad attitudes, about how they think they’re in charge of us for some crazy reason.  We talked about how easy her daughter is, now that Jessica has experience as a mother.  We talked about all of the negative reactions to my pregnancy.  I looked at her sweet baby girl and wished that she’d wake up so I could hold her.  She didn’t.

3:57 p.m.  My 15-year-old called my cell phone to see where I was, because he wanted me to order deep-dish pizza for him.

4:15 p.m.  After putting all of the outside toys in the garage in anticipation of rain, my son and I headed home. 

4:30 p.m.  I parked the car outside, hoping that the rain would wash some of the dirt off of it.  After looking closely, I realized that the dirt was in fact tar from when I drove past construction on my way home from the IVF clinic this morning.  This wouldn’t come off with water alone, so I grabbed a scouring sponge and soapy water and started scrubbing the car.  I was so tired, and the tar wasn’t coming off easily, and, at the bottom of the car, it literally covered the car’s white body.  I finally sat on the ground, exhausted yet still scrubbing, anticipating how upset my husband would be that tar had been on the car for so many hours, because I was too distracted to even notice it. 

4:40 p.m.  A neighbor couple walked by and told me that it isn’t tar, but oil that will come right off with the right product, available at the local Ace Hardware.  So, I stopped fruitlessly scrubbing, came inside and showered.

5 p.m.  I ordered the pizza.

5:05 p.m.  I started writing this post, and being able to vent is making me feel better. 

5:40 p.m.  My husband and 13-year-old got home, and my husband said that today has been so bad that he can’t even talk about it, and that, on top of everything else, he’s had the car on his mind all afternoon.

6:39 p.m.  I am now finished with this post, and I am going to go straight up to bed, hoping and praying that tomorrow will be an improvement.  But, I am thrilled that I am pregnant and that my HCG is 1300, and no one, no matter how negative, can take that away from me.

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