“This Isn’t What I Thought My Life Would Be Like”

On Saturday, the day after we found out, via pregnancy ultrasound, that one of our twins had died a few days prior, my husband told me, lamenting all of the drama surrounding my pregnancy, “This isn’t what I thought my life would be like.” 

Me neither.

I didn’t expect to be single when I turned 35, the beginning of “advanced maternal age.”

I didn’t expect to have my only child, at age 36, as a single woman who conceived using anonymous-donor sperm.

I didn’t expect to suffer from infertility as the aforementioned single woman trying to have a biological child.

I didn’t expect my infertility to be a result of a misused, misrepresented medication, the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was given to my mother when I was in utero.

I didn’t expect to meet the love of my life nine days before getting pregnant during my seventh intrauterine insemination (IUI).

I didn’t expect my son to have a father figure in his life from the day he was born.

I didn’t expect to get married at age 38.  Actually, I was 38 ½…

I didn’t expect to marry a man who had been married before. 

I didn’t expect to be a “second wife.”

I didn’t expect to be a stepmother.

I didn’t expect to throw myself into these roles, to read every book about being a stepmother and mother to sons, to be in weekly Family Systems Therapy in my attempts be the best wife, mother and stepmother I can be—and to still come up short. 

I didn’t expect to be pregnant at 41.

I didn’t expect to have such a difficult pregnancy this time around, considering that my formerly one-third-normal-size T-shaped uterus is now a larger arcuate uterus, my uterine lining is now sufficiently thick, we’d done preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of our embryos, and I’d already proved that I could carry a 9 pound, 7 ounce child to term, to his actual due date.

My life is made up almost entirely of circumstances, events, relationships that I never would have imagined. 

But I love my husband and feel that he is the best match for me I’ve ever found—and vice versa.

My son is an absolutely amazing little person, fully of humor and affection and empathy.  Yesterday, I vomited in the morning and stayed in bed all day, and, when I took a bath in the late afternoon to try to make myself feel better, he knocked on the door, peeked around it, and asked, “Do you need help with anything?”  He’s 4 ½…

And, I love my stepsons and, even though I didn’t bear them, I would do anything for them, and I have always put them and my son first, above anything related to my husband, me and our relationship.  Maybe that hasn’t always been the best for my husband’s and my relationship, but they’re children, so how do we not make them the priority?

And, this pregnancy is hard.  Others’ reactions to my pregnancy have made it even more difficult, almost intolerable.  But, my pregnancy with my son was difficult too, and it was worth every blood test, every ultrasound, the hospitalizations, the best rest, the anxiety, the 60-pound weight gain, the 17 ½ hours of labor, the three epidurals (because the first two didn’t take).  He is worth any misery I experienced—and then some.

And, this baby, dubbed Baby A, who is hopefully still alive inside of me, he will be worth it too. 

So, no, my life isn’t what I thought it would be.  I’ve come to my later-in-life happiness in unconventional ways.  But, while it isn’t what I’d expected, in some ways it is far richer and more rewarding than I ever would have imagined. 

And, our little Baby A, whom I guess doesn’t need to be called Baby A anymore, since he’s the only living baby inside of me, will enrich our lives even more.  I know it.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have undertaken this complicated, sometimes painful, journey through infertility to high-risk pregnancy once again.

This knowledge of how much Baby A will enrich our lives comes from the experience of raising my son.  Therefore, this knowledge also makes the loss of Baby B all the more devastating.

Losing yet another child, a child whom I had seen in four previous ultrasounds, a child whose tiny heart had been pulsing inside of me, a child who had grown teensy little arms and legs, isn’t part of what I thought my life would be like.

I’ve lost seven unborn children.  My husband has lost two, our baby girl embryo who didn’t implant in June and now our son. 

This isn’t what we thought our lives would be like.  But, we have no positive alternative but to keep living the unexpected, complex lives we—and God—have made for ourselves.

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