When I was about to embark on IVF round 1, I met with a woman who had been through several rounds of IVF before finally having success. She told me how the experience changed her forever, how hard it was on her marriage, that it took a high emotional and physical toll and that she still had moments of sadness- but that she’d do it all again in an instant for her three boys.
Her story terrified me. It had a happy ending yes, but I didn’t want to change. I wanted to believe that pregnancy would instantly banish all the sadness and raw emotion that comes with surviving a journey through infertility. That I’d have a baby and go on being my happy self.
Well, I’m over 20 weeks pregnant now, but I’m not “cured.” I worry- a lot- even though I constantly promise Mr. T and you all that I’m done worrying. The saddest part is that I’ve been afraid to let myself love this little one too fiercely, to be too happy. I’ve loved and lost before. I can’t bear another heartbreak.
So sad isn’t it? I won’t admit this to anyone in real life- only to myself here and to you all.
But this week, for the first time, I felt baby kick. Not just a little flutter that could be indigestion or gas, but a full forceful series of kicks. I shouted to Mr. T who came running from downstairs, afraid something terrible had happened. (Maybe I’m not the only one in our marriage who is always afraid of the worst.) T put his hands on my tummy where I had felt the kicks, and sure enough, baby responded with another kick.
Laughing (and crying a little bit), I hugged my belly and my husband. With each kick I felt like I was waking up and coming back to life. This was real. This tiny little person, who started life as an embryo in a dish, the only survivor of 14 eggs and 7 embryos, was here with us, kicking so that we could both feel it.
I needed that kick.
I’m not the same person I was before the three rounds of IVF, before my losses, before this pregnancy. Sometimes I don’t like how I’ve changed, that I’ve exchanged some of my carefree optimism for cynicism. But worrying doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m becoming a mother. I’ll take that.