Monday, March 31, 2014

Baby Joy and PTSD

To be honest I was not even remotely prepared for what my life would be like with a new baby.  I knew that it would change and I would have to be flexible, but I have come to realize that I no longer control my schedule...J does. Case in point, it has been almost 3 months since I have written anything other than a grocery list.

Where do I begin? J has grown leaps and bounds and it is just amazing watching him develop a personality and hit those milestones.  He melts my heart more and more every day. I could write for hours about that amazing little boy, but I think I will spare you the gushing of a new mother.  So what is there to write about if not my son? Well, I had said for years that infertility and cancer would always be a part of my life because they have made me who I am today.  That has not changed.  For anyone that has been through heartache and loss there are scars that still remain.  I am no different.  I look at my son everyday and I thank God for allowing him to come into our lives, but there are still days that I suffer from PTSD of infertility.  My first flashbacks came at my six week postpartum check up.  I was so excited to bring J into the clinic to meet all the admin staff, nurses and doctors who have been part of our journey since my cancer diagnosis.  They literally have been part of our lives for four years and know the losses and obstacles we have overcome to have baby J.  Every appointment, every ultrasound and every non-stress test I had they were there cheering us on.  They were almost as excited as G and I to meet our son.

We entered the clinic and immediately were bombarded with staff wanting to see our little miracle.  They oohed, ahhed and were already trying to figure out who he looked like.  That first little stinging flashback came soon after.  While we sat in the waiting room to see Dr. O for my postpartum check up, nurse K (one of Dr. L's nurses) came out to the lobby. She immediately came over to see J and give us hugs and congratulations. It was so exciting for her to meet him.  She was such a big part of our lives during our fertility treatments.  It was soon after our hugs I realized that she was there to get a patient and my heart sank.  I remember all too well sitting in the waiting room before my appointments with Dr. L and feeling the pain of seeing the barrage of pregnant women and new mommies coming in to see their OB/GYN. I remember thinking, when will it be my turn? Is this ever going to happen for me? Why do I have to go through this? It always felt like insult to injury. I was finally on the other side and yet all I could feel at that moment was sadness for this woman I had never met before. I was already a hormonal mess and holding my son at that moment brought tears to my eyes.  

My next flashback was during my check up with Dr. O.  After my exam she asked what our plans were for birth control.  What? Birth control? Why on earth would I need birth control?  The very thought of birth control seemed foreign to me.  I had spent 6 years trying to have a child so the idea of preventing one was counter intuitive to me.  She said, "Chrissy, you had a baby.  You CAN get pregnant and you DID have a baby." Oh my gosh, she's right. I did actually give birth to a child. Getting pregnant was never the problem...keeping the pregnancy was.  So here I am almost seven years since G and I first started trying to have a baby and now I have to make a decision of how to prevent one.  This was not a question that I expected and a decision I could not make lightly.  Once we got close to the end of my pregnancy and had made it through the dreaded first trimester we were actually thinking about having another child.  We began to think that maybe we could go through this again.  Within minutes I was in tears because all those fears and losses came flooding back.  What if I were to get pregnant again and suffered another miscarriage? What if I had a premature birth and the baby didn't survive or was born with disabilities?  Knowing that J's umbilical cord was in a knot when he was born made those fears of stillbirth so much more real.  I was crying thinking about getting pregnant again.   I had no clue how I would react to another loss and there are no guarantees when it comes to infertility.  After everything we had been through to get J, we felt like he deserved the best that we could give him. This one visit was a wake up call for me that my infertility and losses will always be a part of my life.  I really do have a form of PTSD when it comes to infertility.  For now we are going to relax and enjoy seeing our beautiful little miracle grow.  If we decide that we want to grow our family in the future we are confident it will be through adoption.  

Don't get me wrong.  I am beyond overjoyed to be a mother.  I have wanted to be a mother since I was a teenager.  All of those obstacles and losses make my being a mother that much more special and I will never take that for granted.  That same appointment brought so much joy and an all new level of reality to our family. We had been with Dr. L for over 3 years trying to grow our family.   He had seen us at our worst and now he was able to see us at our absolute best.  Seeing him holding my son for the first time was so overwhelming and heartwarming...we had come full circle!  We finally had our son!