Christmas has come and gone, the New Year has begun, and I have still not posted about our Thanksgiving trip to Elle’s for the 3D/4D ultrasound, our very last ultrasound of the pregnancy. For almost two months I haven’t posted about much of anything.
There are many reasons for my silence: some of them I’m not ready to share while others will likely be misunderstood. Although these last few weeks have brought us closer than ever to the day we will finally have Sweet Pea in our arms, they have been among the most painful of the last 8+ months. At times they have even been excruciating.
When our embryo transfer failed in March, I realized that we would be going through yet another just-the-two-of-us Christmas. Since Christmas 2011 we have expected and planned and hoped that each one would be the last one spent waiting for a baby. And year after year, December 25th rolls around again to deepen the wound of infertility. This Christmas, the fifth spent this way, was somewhat different but still much of the same feeling. Even though we knew Sweet Pea was on the way, the separation from him was extremely painful. Had I been able to carry him myself, we would have taken beaming photos in front of the tree with my bump. My family would been able to feel the baby move and experience this part of the pregnancy with us. Instead, I woke up on my own, feeling like a piece of myself was missing. I felt like a fraud, like someone pretending to be an expectant mother. All around us we watched as other families were able to be together and enjoy the season, completely oblivious to this kind of pain. Somehow, even now, we were still the ones waiting. And waiting…
By Christmas morning it had already been a handful of weeks since we’d last been with Sweet Pea. Way back in November, ahead of the holiday season, Kyle and I caught a plane South to his current home. Together with Elle and her two boys, we enjoyed a quick lunch out before heading to the doctor’s office to catch a glimpse of Sweet Pea’s face. As soon as I saw him on the screen all I could think was, “He looks so familiar…” It wasn’t until a few moments later, when the technician pointed out that Sweet Pea has Kyle’s nose, that I realized how much he looked like our nephew, the son of Kyle’s twin brother. I have never really looked like anyone in my family and had initially wondered if Sweet Pea might take after me, but unless he happens to have my dark hair and/or eyes, it looks like his Swedish genes may have won out. The tech desperately tried to give us a good view of him, but Sweet Pea stubbornly kept his hands (and even a foot!) up by his face the whole time. At just an ounce over four pounds, he had already grown well beyond his daddy’s premature birth weight, which made Kyle proud.
Sweet Pea, who seems to be a bit of a night owl, put on a show for us that evening. My goal for the trip was to be able to feel him hiccup, and while we were talking after dinner, Elle suddenly told us to hurry over to her side of the table so we could feel the movement. He had grown so much stronger since we were there in August, and we could now easily feel his kicks and jabs. That night as we climbed into bed, Kyle remarked on how much more real everything felt when we were there. My heart broke to hear him talk of how he wished he could spend the rest of the trip sitting next to Elle and feeling the baby move. Most people think that I am the only one missing out through surrogacy; they don’t realize how much he has lost as well.
The next morning we woke up to Elle already busy in the kitchen preparing food for Thanksgiving. The holiday gave us the opportunity to meet her whole family: her sisters and brother, her mom, and several nieces came over for the meal. I’d wanted to meet them since the beginning of this process– it was important to me that they know how grateful we are for Elle’s sacrifice and how much we appreciate her. I really wanted them to like us. We ended up having a great day with everyone and talked a lot about when we’d come back for Sweet Pea’s birth.
And then, the next morning, we had a flight to catch home.
Six. That’s how many days we’ve been able to experience the pregnancy in person. Just six days with Sweet Pea since the May afternoon we saw him transferred to Elle from a small petri dish with my name on it. That’s it. Less than a week.
And that has been one of the worst parts of this process: the long-distance pregnancy. As we left Elle’s driveway and drove onto the main road, Kyle asked, “Is it really hard for you to leave too?” I nodded in response, not trusting my voice enough to speak, and we drove much of the way to the airport in silence.
Upon returning home it was as if nothing had changed, like there was never a baby at all. We have been living a double life. When we are with Elle it’s different, we are parents-to-be, but here it’s just the two of us. Most people here know very little about what we’ve been through this past year and a half, let alone the years before the surrogacy. Prior to our move, pretty much everyone we saw on a regular basis had followed our journey; they had waited with us for news after the embryo transfers. Back then it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that we would be welcoming a child into our lives in the new year, it was just a fragile hope. Now there is no bump to give away our secret. I am just as infertile as I ever was and my belly is just as empty. Other than our second bedroom gradually becoming a nursery, we appear to be exactly the same on the outside.
And yet, as I write this post, we are driving south, closer to Sweet Pea with each hour. We won’t be with him until Saturday, but after that we will begin the wait for his arrival. And this time he will return with us.
For those who would like to see the 3D ultrasound photos, click here.