We’ve reached 29 weeks now and officially found ourselves in the third trimester last week. Some days it still feels surreal that this is really happening to us, that we are among the lucky ones. Other days, this feels like the slowest pregnancy in the history of the world. Each trimester has dragged on for what feels like a year. Case in point: recently, when hearing how far along some friends of ours are in their pregnancy, Kyle exclaimed, “WHAT!! Why are everyone else’s babies gestating at a million miles per hour?!” I laughed harder at that than I have at anything in a really, really long time because it’s so true; it seems that everyone around us gets to fly through their pregnancies while we slowly creep along at the pace of a snail. I’d almost swear we’ve even been lapped by now…
About two weeks ago I wrote the following but, because of a health issue I was dealing with shortly after, I never got around to posting it. Since we are currently bogged down with the legal side of surrogacy and I am barely able to form coherent thoughts through this horrible mess, I thought I’d post it now.
It’s strange how far you can come and yet still struggle with what you’ve lost along the way.
Lately I’ve found myself thinking about the sixteen embryos. Each one of them had their own unique genetic makeup with a mix of eye and hair colors, genders, and personality traits. Each one was completely unique, never to be repeated again. So much potential in such tiny groupings of cells. I often wonder who they would have been if they had survived. Being given the privilege of watching Sweet Pea develop from just such a beginning has made me even more aware of what we’ve lost. He was once exactly the same as each of those other embryos, but he is the only one I will ever get to meet. So while I am incredibly grateful, there are still those times that I wonder what if…
Every once in a while I find myself thinking– for just a moment– that we are about to have two babies. I have pictured having this second baby in our lives several times before suddenly remembering that we are not having two babies, we are just having one. I don’t know why my mind keeps going back to it. Perhaps it’s because my nephew was just born four months before Sweet Pea’s due date and “the babies” have often been referred to as a sort of unit by the family over the last several months. Since marrying a twin, I’ve grown used to having everything I do bundled into pairs: we’ve experienced graduations, engagements, weddings, and now, first babies together, always within a few months of the other couple. It could simply be that I am thinking of Sweet Pea as part of a pair with his cousin, Levi.
Or, maybe I am thinking of the other embryo, the one who was transferred to Elle 6 weeks prior to Sweet Pea but ultimately failed to thrive. If things had gone differently we would almost be full-term and anticipating the arrival of our Thanksgiving baby any day now; our wait would be so close to ending. Part of the loss I feel is in the knowledge that we will never know anything about that embryo; it’s just gone, almost as if it was never here. The only proof we have of its existence is a photo that I tucked away last March after the last phone call and never looked at again. I had even thought I was the only one who hadn’t forgotten about it, until Elle once told me that she still thought of it too.
The second baby I keep picturing has felt so real to me at times that a strange void has emerged in its place. And, maybe that is the whole point, maybe it represents the second child we will never get to have. I can’t help but be aware that our situation is very different from other first-time parents-to-be, for many reasons. The other expecting couples around us are already talking about siblings and trying for a second, baby products that can be used again, wanting to experience having children of different genders, names to save for the future, and someday getting to go through all of this a second– or third, or fourth– time. I have even started getting questions as to when we plan on having more children. How am I supposed to answer that? It’s really painful for me to know already that we are unlikely to have the opportunity even just to try for a second. We never would have chosen to have an only child. In fact, we were adamantly against stopping at one. Unfortunately, we don’t have that choice. We don’t have that privilege.
This child is the miracle. A second child is a pipe dream.