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Jul
14
2011

Sixteen pink lines

in Nonfiction Writing, Parenting

Sixteen pink lines. Eight pregnancy tests with eight positives, and sixteen pink lines. Out of tears and out of pee, I was finally pregnant.

The last several years had been filled with the ups and downs of infertility and miscarriage. My heart ached for a child I thought I would never hold in my arms. But everything changed that fateful evening when those bold and beautiful pink lines stared back at me.

“If I go to bed right now, I won’t have to tell him,” I told myself. “He has enough on his plate right now. I do not need to add this stress.”

Cover art used by permission from Chicken Soup

While pregnancy should indeed not be stressful, when you have gotten your hopes up for a child only to have the life slowly drain from your body from an unexplained miscarriage, it is difficult to not be stressed.

So I faked it. I curled up in bed, covered my eyes with our palm-tree-endowed blanket, and pretended to sleep while I prayed that somehow this embryo could develop into a happy, healthy, and wise little human.

The next morning, I tried to fake it some more.

“What’s on your mind?” my husband asked.

“Nothing, nothing at all,” I said as I tried to avoid eye contact. “Coffee?”

After eight years of marriage to my high school sweetheart, I should have known I could not keep this secret.

“You look different. Anything you want to talk about?”

With all the downsizing and reorganizing going on at his work, I did not want to add to his worries.

“I took a test,” I said.

“What kind of test?” He was oblivious.

“A test,” I said as I wrapped my arms around my belly to give the child in my womb another embrace. “Actually, eight tests.”

And for a fleeting moment, he let a smile slip across his lips. Just for a second. Then his guard came back up and he said the only words his heart would let him speak. “We’ll see.”

“I know, sweetie. We’ll see.”

As he headed off to work, I called the doctor to set up a blood test. I had been through the tests before. Last time, the first test was “questionable.” Then I went for another test every 48 hours for the next four weeks. The pregnancy hormones that should have double, started slowly falling.

“What are my chances?” I would ask when the results came in.

At first it was 70 percent, then 50/50. Finally I received the list of symptoms so that I would know when “it was over.”

Over? It was over? I always thought that was such a horrible way of describing the death of a child in a womb. “It” and “over” did not seem to come anywhere close to describing the physical, emotional, and spiritual draining that a miscarriage brings.

“Dear God,” I prayed on the way to the hospital, “please let this one be different. May I please keep this child?”

Fourty-eight excruciating hours later, I was back at the hospital for a second blood test and the results of the first round.

“The numbers are a little low, Jamie, but I think we have a shot. I want you to start on some progesterone, take another blood test today, and come back on Friday.”

“Sounds familiar,” I said.

A hug from the doctor and a poke later, I was headed to the pharmacy for suppositories that insurance did not cover in hopes that it would save my child.

And it did.

The pregnancy was picture-perfect until the last month.

“Let me measure that again,” the doctor said as he stretched his tape across my protruding stomach. “This baby is getting really, really big. You are not gaining weight, but she is. And FAST! I am going to send you to a specialist downstairs. We need a second set of eyes.”

“Are we okay?” I asked.

“Yeah, you are fine and she is fine. We just want to make sure we are staying on top of this.”

I put in a call to my husband, and he met me for a special 3D ultrasound. As I laid on the bed I watched the specialist measure every gorgeous limb on the ultrasound screen. And the numbers scared me.

Right arm: 46 weeks

Left leg: 48 weeks

Head: 47 weeks

Expected weight: 10-plus pounds

“She has a full head of hair, her organs are grown, and she is growing fast. We need to get her out. Like sooner than later,” he laughed. “She may have teeth.”

At 37 weeks pregnant, this baby was ready. Now.

We called my doctor to schedule a C-section for the next day. And at 8:32 AM, Kimberly Anne Richardson was born. All nine pounds, two ounces of our miracle baby.

Eighteen months later, her brother, Jacob Brent Richardson, weighed in at eight pounds, ten ounces.

And the final Richardson, Aidan Kyle, was born 28 months later weighing in at ten pounds, six ounces.

For a non-diabetic mother, those were some whoppers!

My babies are now six, four, and two years old. My family is my heart and soul. We have had our ups and downs along the way, but nothing in this life meets the feeling of motherhood.

I would not trade that for anything, and I have all sixteen (now faded) pink lines to mark where the journey began.

 

“Sixteen Pink Lines” first appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms (March 2011).


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