Tuesday 12 July 2011

The Wall of Fame

     My sister-in-law once said that I was the happiest pregnant woman she had ever met.  If you read my post "The Berenstain Bears and A Leap of Faith" you already know that Rob and I adopted our son, Thomas, back in 1998.  However, I haven't told you the story of how we got our daughter, Jacqueline, in 2003.  We always agreed we wanted to have children and a couple of years after we married, we tried to start a family.  I was pregnant in 1995, 1996 and 1997, but I suffered three miscarriages in a row. 

     By the summer of 1997, I was referred to a brilliant fertility specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton who put me through a series of tests where I was poked and prodded and where I underwent major surgery.  Rob was impressed to see that Dr. Daya, rather than guessing at the problem as every other doctor had done, approached the problem like a true scientist and tried to eliminate every possibility before arriving at a diagnosis.  In the end, he determined that I had three problems:  low progesterone (easily fixed), a uterine septum (or what my husband called the Berlin Wall) and endometriosis (the hardest of the three to fix).  Dr. Daya performed surgery to eliminate the uterine septum during which he had to remove one ovary as well due to damage from endometriosis. 

     Thanks to the surgeon's touch and the grace of God, I came out of the surgery stronger than ever.  It took several months, but I was finally given the green light to conceive again.  Two weeks later, we got the call to adopt our son.  One social worker had wanted a commitment from Rob and I to either adopt or to give birth; however, we did not want to be put in a box like that and secretly continued to work towards both goals.  "Afterall," I said to Rob, "they're not the baby police."  Of course, within seven months of getting on the adoption agency's waiting list, we brought home a bouncing baby boy.  Thomas became our family; we knew if we had one child or ten we were parents now.

     In the meantime, we kept trying to have a biological child while not eliminating the possibility of adopting a second time.  When Thomas turned 4, I took him to the doctor for a yearly check-up and as an afterthought, I asked for a pregnancy test.  Shocked, I found out that I was almost two months pregnant since I had already taken a home pregnancy test that came out negative.  Back to Hamilton I went to Dr. Daya who watched me like a hawk for the next three months, giving me several ultrasounds.  Finally, like a lioness letting her young cub out into the wild, the specialist said that I was ready to graduate to the next doctor since he specialized in fertility rather than obstetrics.  Dr. Daya had given me such confidence; what would I do without him?

     Thankfully, my new doctors, who would oversee trimesters two and three of my pregnancy, were quite competent.  With each month, my confidence grew.  On St. Patrick's Day, I had a 20-week ultrasound that showed my baby was right on target.  I had been holding my breath for 5 months and I finally let a sigh escape:  "Hey, I think I can do this!" The doctors said I needed no further ultrasounds; once again, I felt a little lost.  What would I do without the reassurance of that tiny form on the screen?  My new source of comfort became my baby's kicks.  Often when I laid down at night she would kick up a storm.  The regular kicking sensation, rather than annoying me, was a constant form of reassurance.  The regular visits to the doctor's office also gave me a chance to hear the baby's heart beat. 

     Although I was convinced the doctor would order me to bed before the pregnancy was full term, it never happened.  I taught right until the end of the school year.  With my belly expanding, I was thrilled to finally look the part.  Pregnancy was a surreal experience for me; it felt like it was happening to someone else.  I still refused to buy any baby clothes or toys.  But I did allow my husband to take my photograph once I reached my third trimester.  I needed some proof of this pregnancy. 

     On July 11, 2003, Rob and I dined at Al Dente's for our 11th wedding anniversary.  That night while I was sleeping, I felt a slight tug in the middle of my back, but thought nothing of it.  The next morning, I discovered that I had slight spotting.  I had not spotted through the entire pregnancy and eventhough I was not due for another 3 weeks, we decided to visit McMaster to check it out.  The doctors hooked me up to a baby monitor and after three hours, sent me home saying that it was just a false alarm.  I laid down for a couple of hours to see if the spotting would stop; however, when I stood up again, it was like Niagara Falls had let loose. 

      On the second trip to the hospital I actually experienced labour pains.  They examined me and said that I was definitely in the early stages of labour.  We arrived at 8 pm and my little girl was born at 9:41 pm via C-Section (due to my earlier surgery, the doctors did not want me to have a regular birth).  She weighed 6 pounds, was 18 inches long and was in perfect health.  Hallelujah!  In the end, I had a textbook pregnancy and went full term at 37 weeks gestation. Our daughter's baby photo was posted on Dr. Daya's "Wall of Fame" along with dozens of other miracle children whom he had helped bring into this world.  Our son held his new sister, beaming with pride.  He adored his little sister right from the start and became a devoted big brother. 

     My little girl turns 8 years old today.  I can't cuddle her anymore.  I don't feed her bottles.  I no longer burp her.  And I don't change her diapers.  But she'll always be my little girl.  Thank you for being my girl, Jacqueline.  Happy Birthday!

Photo courtesy http://image.shutterstock.com

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