Alexis is someone I’ve known nearly all my life. A friendship rooted way back in kindergarten, lasting all through junior high until she moved to Canada with her mother and her new husband just before the start of high school. We lost contact in the years following but I thought about her often. Missing her always. She had the best laugh of anyone I ever met, and as kids we shared lots of the same interests so even at a young age I appreciated all aspects of her character – yet admittedly – my admiration slightly tinged with a touch of jealously because she was so incredibly bright in school. A natural bookworm, with a serious love of Dodge ball.
We spent a good many of our 5th grade Friday nights watching Dark Shadows curled up on the couch with bowls of popcorn and coke floats to wash it down, spent her hot July birthday parties camped out in tents perched in her backyard and the Halloween season preparing for our annual haunted house put on in my backyard, complete with a theatrical play in which she came to star in because honestly, she was the only kid in the neighborhood who could actually act. My mom watched her through the week and was quite happy to have an equally over zealous after school Tetris companion, while her mother found separate delight in my utter love and affection for fancy dolls (which, Lex, verging on full blown tomboy status at that age, wasn’t the least bit fond of that kind of thing, that I can remember anyway)
All in all, we had some great times together growing up which is why our ultimate reconnection, a few years ago via Facebook, felt like such a gift. Turns out we are pretty much the same people we were in grade school. Only now, our adult relationship involves a lot of loud little boys, a few long boards, a couple handsome husbands, two dogs, and weekend camp trips at our favorite beach in the summertime. The newest member being her beautiful baby boy born the end of last month.
Here she kindly shares some of her thoughts on the struggles while trying to conceive in addition to the patience it taught her along the way.
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
By the time the little stick of truth told me “yes” last August, it had been nearly two years since Tony and I had begun trying to get pregnant. As it turns out, thirteen straight years of being on the pill, coupled with a prior history of irregular periods, doesn’t make for a particularly fertile body. The first six months of effort ticked by with barely a blip on the menstruation map. My mornings soon became a haze of 6am temperature readings and countless minutes spent staring at unyielding ovulation sticks, searching in vain for that magical 48-hour window amidst a sea of two to four month long menstrual cycles. That anyone could get pregnant ever began to feel like an abstract and absurd notion.
In the end, we were lucky enough to conceive naturally – although not without a fair share of conscious effort and outside help. Regular visits to an acupuncturist, a daily regimen of Chinese herbs, changes to my diet, leaving behind a stressful job, a supportive husband, and a healthy dose of patience composed my particular success syrum.
And so it came to be that on a Tuesday morning last August, like so many that had come before it, I peed on a stick, and finally saw a line appear where none had been before. After so many months of fertility rejection, my immediate response to such sudden affirmation was one of awed shock, followed by instant doubt. So a second test followed. And there it was again. That hitherto elusive little line. When I finally gathered my senses enough to wake Tony with the news, I saw a similar medley of shock, awe and amazement reflected on his face. A look composed of equal parts “What?!?,” “Oh!” and “Holy shit…”. We sat there in a daze, half grinning at each other, and half wondering what the hell we’d just gotten ourselves into. Because this experience, this prize we’d been chasing so ardently for almost two years, was no small victory. And no amount of wanting it can diminish the sheer magnitude of what it means to bring another being into the world, and of inheriting the responsibility of that decision for the remainder of your own brief vigil.
In retrospect, I’ve come to see those many months of conception struggle as a blessing in disguise. On the one hand, it was a catalyst for an important life lesson; namely, that having a biological child isn’t a guaranteed life experience. It isn’t a simple equation of having all the right physical parts, nor it is necessarily something owed to us as women. And it isn’t something we can expect to just slot into our queue of pre- meditated life milestones when “the time is right.” It certainly can work out that conveniently for some. But when the switch isn’t that easy to flip, the resulting journey, rife as it is with frustration and helplessness, can bear its own kind of fruits.
For me, it created some necessary space for reflection, an awareness of the importance of slowing down, and a capacity for wonder that made my eventual conception feel like nothing short of a miracle. It was also a tutorial in the art of letting go, of surrendering to the fact that this process was something beyond my control, and, in truly accepting that fact, finding my way to the patience that, for me, proved the final hurdle to readiness.
Sitting here now in my 34th week, I can also recognize that what seemed like an interminable wait was actually time awarded Tony and I to slowly acclimate to the idea of becoming parents, of inviting a third (or, if you count our dog, Tuesday, a fourth) personality into our family circle, and of forever changing the nature and course of our lives. Thirty-eight to forty-two weeks sounds like a significant amount time – and, right about now, it certainly feels like an eternity – but, between coping with the strange and awesome physical transformations and navigating the constantly shifting emotional fault lines, those weeks of pregnancy couldn’t possibly contain enough time and space to get your head wrapped around the less tangible realities of having a child. I’m not sure what span of time is really adequate enough for that. But I can tell you that after two and half years of thinking about it, there’s little question left about whether or not it’s an experience I want.
Whatever the inevitable costs of having this baby (sleep deprivation, projectile poop, and the loss of personal time and space come to mind), I’m ready to watch Tony become the amazing father I know he will be. And to meet this new and exciting little person we’ve created together. And to discover the mother and woman I have yet to become. My guess is it will all have been worth the wait.
And lastly, her new family of three taken at their home just days after his arrival.
Welcome to the world Mr. Wyatt James.
* also, do yourself a favor and check out Lex’s photography prints HERE