chocolate chip

Doubt – Noun.
A feeling of uncertainty.

Something is wrong.

It’s December 4, one week before my first ultrasound appointment. I’m nauseous morning, noon and night, my breasts are sore and my brain is foggy. The bloating has forced me to unearth my emergency fat pants from the back of the closet. Despite these symptoms, which the nurses assure me are all normal, something is not quite right.

I conscientiously log my symptoms, medicines and appointments in the Nurture app. Because our baby was conceived through IVF I know exactly how far along I am. I know July 28, 2018 is her due date. Each day the app tells me her size and what parts of her body are developing.

“Today she is the size of a chocolate chip,” I tell my husband, full of hope, excitement and disbelief. “Her eyes are forming, too.”

Fear and doubt are lurking in the back of my mind. Creeping in. Casting a shadow over my dream of starting a family.

The amount and detail of information available to me is like dark chocolate. I crave it. The desire to know and know more about the baby growing inside me is addictive. I can’t possibly consume new details about her growth fast enough. My imagination fills in the blanks: what color her eyes will be (blue), what color her hair will be (light brown), whether she’ll be short or tall (tall).

The app is not enough. I need to know more, I need reassurance that this teeny tiny girl who has the power to drain my energy is going to arrive in the middle of summer healthy and vivacious. I’m aware of the facts:

I’m 40 years old.

This puts me at risk for a range of complications.

I don’t know what I don’t know.

I research my symptoms and the possible complications. Not because I want to find something wrong, but because I want to be confident this pregnancy is on the right track. That my dream will come true.

In the midst of this obsession, I find my new favorite candy: the Miscarriage Odds Reassurer. “Knowing doesn’t have to be scary,” the site promises. I plug in the facts – how far along my pregnancy is, my age, number of previous miscarriages, number of previous pregnancies, height and weight – and click “Reassure me” to get my results.

“At 6 weeks, 2 days the probability of not miscarrying is 82.8 percent,” the site says.

The odds are in my favor.

I want to tell my mom she will finally be a grandmother, a role she was made for. Her living with Alzheimer’s makes that complicated. She will understand the situation with feeling, and factually in her own way, but I don’t want to upset her. And upsetting her is worse than my own uncertainty.

Instead, I gather up my feelings and load them in my heart. They are heavy, and I carry them everywhere.


Blueberry | Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Disbelief – Noun.
Inability or refusal to accept that something is true or real.

I have a secret. The kind I want to shout about and share with the world because it makes my heart sing.

I’m pregnant. 

The world has taken on a new glow. It’s rosy, and everything appears in shades of pink. Like pencil erasers, baby piglets and rose petals.

I’m really pregnant. 

Every night I listen to a Circle + Bloom meditation. It relaxes me, centers my focus and helps me sleep. So much so that I’m rarely able to listen all the way to the end before my eyes close.

I’m grateful. 

One meditation is a body scanning exercise. The narrator guides you through a moment of focus on each part of the body. At one point she says to focus on a color. I don’t choose the color, it chooses me: cotton candy pink. Sticky, fluffy and sweet. Like the cheeks of my future baby.

I’m so grateful. 

My dreams are shaded in pink, too. I’m convinced we’re having a girl. I will name her Valerie Marion after my mother and grandmother. She will be part of this legacy of strong women who come before her. They are survivors of loss, gracious and kind. They paved the way for her to join this world.

I’m eternally grateful. 

As the days go by I begin to feel pregnant. The morning sickness starts slowly at first on Thanksgiving morning. Two days later it’s an all-day, every day occurrence. I’m surviving on small meals every two hours, peanut butter crackers and ginger ale. Nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, some say.

This is a gift.

My HCG levels continue to double normally. The countless blood tests, injections and ultrasounds – every single prick, poke and prod – that led to now were all worth it. The nurse schedules my first ultrasound for December 11 when our baby will be the size of a blueberry, exactly 7 weeks, 2 days old. My lucky numbers.

This is a sign.

I can look at other pregnant women now without envy and longing. I am one of you now. The spare room will become a nursery. I will fill it with books and leave room for her dreams and who she will one day become.

My own dream is coming true.



Joy – Noun.
A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

“I have great news,” the nurse said. “It’s positive.”

I felt a whoosh sweep though my body. My knees buckled.

“Are you sure?” I asked, my grip on the phone loosening.

“Yes, honey I’m sure,” she sang. “The numbers don’t lie.”

Dumbstruck, I didn’t respond. I couldn’t. I didn’t have the words, not after month after month after month of negatives and maybe next time’s. Not after everything we’ve been through to get to here. How do most patients react? Squeal in delight? Tears of joy? I’m sure she’s heard it all.

“I’m sorry,” I said, apologizing for my delayed reaction. “I really wasn’t expecting good news.”

I could hear the smile in her voice as she laid out instructions to come back in two days for a follow-up blood test to make sure my HCG level was doubling. She encouraged me to call back if I thought of more questions after I’ve had time to process.

I floated back to my office in disbelief. I’m actually pregnant.

It didn’t matter that a stranger was informing me of this news, this miracle, that would change the course of my life.

I was beyond longing for how it’s “supposed” to happen. At home, in private, with my husband holding me in his arms. Silly grins plastered on our faces, sharing a secret that for now would be just ours.

It was an unseasonably warm Monday in November. Thanksgiving was that Thursday, and I was already making plans for the holidays and beyond.

We’ll make the announcement at Christmas. Something small, something thoughtful and meaningful. I’ll make copies of the first ultrasound photo and put them in each family member’s Christmas card. We’ll be together when they open them. We’ll share the moment of joy together. There will be hugs and happy tears celebrating hope, opportunity and new dreams.

Robbed of the private discovery with my husband I think of how I want to share the news with him. We’re both at work, and won’t be home together before 9 p.m. A text is out of the question. A phone call doesn’t seem quite right either. I want to see his eyes when I tell him, I want to be with him.

So I do what I believe is the next best thing. I leave a hand-written note tucked into the “I Love You” book I made for his birthday. Because one day, when our child is old enough and curious enough to ask about the day we found out she would be joining our family, I want it to be her favorite story.

“Again,” she’ll say after we’ve told her for the one hundredth time. “Tell it again.”

My husband gets home from work, his usual calm is now harried. He looks panicked.

“Really?” he says, interpreting the grin on my face. “I’ve been worried sick all day.”

I feel a little guilty for making him wait and point to the book where he finds and reads the note. I watch the panic leave his face and the smile start to curl. “Are you still worried?”

“No,” he says. “No, no, no. Not at all.”