I have a new baby nephew! Well, he's not so new anymore... he's almost 2 months old.
He got off to a bit of a rough start. "Some assembly required," my brother joked. We can joke about that now. We couldn't make that joke then -- and you know things are bad when there are no jokes, because that's what my family does in difficult situations. It was over a week before the first one came along -- the first picture of the baby in a hat inspired his first nickname: "Master has given Dobby CLOTHES!"
So, little Dobby had a rough start, but things got better. The word "miraculous" was tossed around, always modified by "almost," because we don't like to risk overstating the situation. That's another thing we do. Along with making ironic sound effects when we show physical affection or back into parking spaces or make M*A*S*H references.
Oh, and sudden changes of subject, expecting our audience to just keep up. That too.
I want to have another baby, but it's probably not going to happen, and I'm kind of OK with that, too. I got a bit of a taste of what it would be like last night, with two kids climbing on top of me and the baby for most of the evening. It turns out your other kids don't stop needing THINGS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT when you're holding a newborn. Who knew? But the same is also true for gentle cuddles, quiet lullabies and whispers of, "I love you so much, baby... when you're bigger I'm going to teach you all about sharks and birds of prey. I'm so glad you're better and I got to meet you."
It took us long time to get pregnant with Molly. Not a long, long time, but long enough. Long enough to start to get used to the knot in my stomach every month as I counted the days and the symptoms, trying not to convince myself that every little twinge of nausea was a good sign and maybe, just maybe, this was the month. Did you smell that? No? Am I smelling that more than normal??? Ooh, I don't feel well. It's probably just because I slept badly, but maybe... Ugh, cramps. But it could be implantation, right? I had cramps with Ben, didn't I? Don't be stupid. You're not pregnant. Don't get your hopes up again, because you'll just be disappointed.
I had at least one false start along the way. A friend of mine once said she thinks our super-sensitive pregnancy tests are not all they're cracked up to be. Only about 50% of all fertilized eggs even graduate to embryo, so along with our advanced reproductive technology we have an epidemic of intellectual miscarriages -- if we had never seen that ever so faint blue line, it would never have happened, but now we have to mourn the loss of an idea, a wish, a thought, a minute trace of human chorionic gonadotropin that activated a chemical on a piece of paper and made us crazy. It really gets my zygote. (See? There I go again with the inappropriate humor!)
And then another, this time a little further out of the gate. A vanishing twin, it's called. This time, there was definitely a miscarriage, in the middle of the night. Ian asked me in the morning, "Why didn't you wake me up?" and I said, "You had to work in the morning... there didn't seem to be much point. It's not like there was anything we could do." We cried, we hugged, we pulled ourselves together, and then three days later... poof! Still pregnant! Like magic... If by magic you mean "emotional roller coaster in the pitch blackness where you just don't know where the next turn is going to take you or even when it's going to arrive, but you know it's going to arrive so don't get comfortable."
After that, of course, everything went perfectly normally, with no other concerns or issues.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! J/K!!! Did you really think it would be that easy? After that came the choroid plexus cyst! That's a type of cyst in the brain that can come and go and has absolutely no effect on the brain whatsoever except that when it appears on an ultrasound in a fetus it signifies a significant possibility of a chromosomal abnormality called trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, which is, as my obstetrician bluntly but not unkindly put it, "not compatible with birth."
Thus followed a week of blood testing, Internet researching, and all those fun discussions you get to have when deciding whether to terminate your longed-for pregnancy or continue to gestate a fetus who, if not stillborn, will have an average life expectancy of 5-15 days, before we were able to have our 20-week ultrasound, which showed not only absolutely none of the congenital abnormalities of the major organs that are expected in Edwards syndrome, but also no evidence whatsoever that there ever had been a CPC. It wasn't a mistake -- my OB/GYN went back and looked at the original ultrasound herself to make sure. Because Molly -- screwing with us since six weeks' gestation.
After that, things went very smoothly aside for my bottom two ribs dislocating themselves a couple of times a day, but that was nothing lying supine as often as humanly possible while still trying to work full-time and parent a 2-year-old couldn't solve.
Then there was the whole C-section recovery; colic; her not sleeping more than 30 minutes a time any time of day or night and only in my arms or her swing; chronic, excruciatingly painful plugged duct from scar tissue from prior surgery; poor latch; failure to thrive due to not enough milk; nipple confusion with bottles; repeat visits to Toronto to visit the Newman Clinic to eventually be told that I was pretty much that one person in the world who could probably just not worry about trying to breastfeed and no hard feelings it's cool, and guilt... oh, the guilt. My broken breasts not making enough milk to feed my hungry baby... my need to breastfeed blinding me to my own baby's suffering... my selfish choice to have a reduction, causing this whole issue... supplementing when I could have just tried harder... not supplementing soon enough... not pumping enough... not sleep training soon enough... sleep training too soon... my husband and my beautiful 3-year-old, caught in the crossfire of the PPD that was clearly all my fault, anyway...
Would I trade it for anything? Not. A. Chance.
Is it any wonder I want to have another one? Well, I do! But, like I said, it hasn't happened yet, and it's probably not going to, and I'm OK with that, or at least I'm doing a pretty good job of convincing myself that I'm OK with that. I haven't bought pregnancy tests in months!
So. Back to Dobby. My family is close, even though you might not realize it if you saw us hug ("Unnnghh!!" *ironic back pats, 3-5, no more, no less*). And my little brother and I are close, and he and his wife went through a lot to get to where they are now, but that's their story, and if they decide to start a blog one day I'll insert a link to it riiiiiight *here.*
When Dobby was sick, I did a pretty good job of holding it together, because what else could I do? I couldn't be there, because people were already there, and there's a point where enough people becomes too many people. I couldn't pin a kid against a tree and tell him to leave my little brother alone or I would break his face, because when you're a grown up, that's the sort of thing that gets you arrested. I couldn't team up with my little brother to use our one shared brain to tag team some authority figure and bend them to our will, because there just didn't seem to be a way that could help. All I could do was wait and try to keep it together, so I did.
Yesterday, we had a big family birthday party and I finally got to meet Dobby in real life, and hold him, and cuddle him, and change him, and make faces at him, and tickle him, and rock him to sleep, and see for myself that he is really, really OK. Partly for the sake of him, and my brother and sister-in-law, and partly because somehow the situation got conflated with my own "some assembly required" baby who arrived with nary an instruction booklet or Allen key and my back-ordered baby who's probably never going to show so I should just cut my losses, accept my refund and convince myself that it wouldn't have been right for my living room, anyway.
And he isn't really, really OK. He's AWESOME.
Karyn Pickles is a writer and one-quarter of Team Pickles. This post originally appeared at www.PicklesINK.com, where it contained a swear word, but she's not going to tell you which one.