As I sat on that paper covered cot, I couldn't keep my legs from shaking. I'd been here before, in this same room, with these same people, but it had always been to count follicles. We'd all smiled and pointed out the big black holes on the screen, documenting their rate of growth and dreaming about the future, wondering which ones would develop into healthy embryos that would become babies that I'd be holding in my arms someday.
But this time, everything was different.
After a miraculous cycle full of twist and turns, never ending surprises and heart stopping moments, I was finally looking at a single, misshapen black circle on the dark, grainy screen. And although the number of black blobs I was observing was much less then what I was used to seeing at the follicular monitoring appointments, my love for this one perfect little sac was more intense than I'd ever even felt for those countless precious follicles.
Because this was no longer a follicle holding the promise of a possible baby.
It was a developing baby.
At only five weeks and five days along it was deemed too early to worry about not being able to see the heartbeat, but we were thrilled to locate the gestational sac, yolk sac, and fetal pole that had collectively snuggled in and began to develop in the perfect uterine location. I'll never be able to explain the relief I felt at seeing the tiny little miracle that was growing inside of me, this precious little being that until this point was only visible as a second line on a pregnancy test.
But despite the intense joy that consumed me upon seeing this perfectly formed sac, I felt an unexpected surge of grief follow quickly behind. What about the other two beautiful embryos that we placed in this same spot a few weeks ago? Why am I only seeing one of them here today, where there should be three?
I realize it's normal to feel a sort of loss for the embryos that didn't survive, just all the ones before that were placed inside my womb yet never resulted in a pregnancy. I suppose I just thought it would be different this time, that my gratitude for the baby growing inside would be enough to erase the pain of the other lost embryos that will never become my children here on earth.
But it wasn't.
And in the half of a millisecond that it took for these thoughts to collect in my head, we saw what can only be assumed to be a vanishing twin. Another precious sac, this time far too small and much to empty to be considered healthy and viable.
And suddenly my grief made sense as I realized that even with the ridiculously low beta numbers that we'd been given these past few weeks, I always felt in my heart that God had another miracle in store for us and we were going to have twins. I never told anyone of course, but the thought never left the back of my mind, a secret desire tucked away, waiting to emerge when the time was right.
Medically we'll never really know the truth, unless the mass continues to grow a bit and becomes more obvious for our next ultrasound, but it's more likely that my lining will envelope it and use it to grow the more developed sac instead.
I knew all along there were two miracles inside of me, thought I never spoke it out loud. And when the Dr. showed us that one perfect sac on the ultrasound, I still feel guilty as I remember my eyes wondering across the screen, searching for the second sac and fetal pole, unable to find it and contemplating why I wasn't just satisfied with the one we'd already located.
Right now, I'm pumped full of hormones. I'm pregnant, and extremely in love with our little one, but I'm still struggling with accepting it, because what I saw on the screen today became slightly more real to me, but also managed to break my heart. I was relieved to see development, but sad to see only one of them considered healthy. I was thrilled to see our baby, but scared because it's heart still isn't beating. Thankful for the almost guaranteed simplicity of carrying a single baby to term, but disappointed to miss out on the drama and excitement of multiples.
As an infertile, I'm still having trouble recognising that I'm pregnant. Rising betas, middle of the day positive pregnancy tests and declined spotting may never be enough to ease my mind after almost four years of battling with my body to reproduce. I feel like there's always another milestone to hit, always one more step to reach before I'm safe, and I won't be able to breathe until I hear a fluttering heartbeat, because my my infertile past instills fear and holds me back from celebrating every completed step to the best of my ability.
I suppose this is something I will always struggle with, a pile of baggage I'll always carry around, fight with, and attempt to conquer.
But while infertility has managed to scar me, it's still not enough to completely strip me of the hope and joy that emerges when I place my hand on my stomach and know that there is life growing inside me, weather I can feel it or not. It's time to start practicing the faith and patience that God's been teaching me over the past few years, using it to calm my heart and continue to pray to Him for wisdom and guidance throughout this new journey.
I'm sad for our other baby that didn't make it-and the other embryos that have been lost over the last year-but I'm still amazed and in awe of God and how He's managed to create life in me despite this long, broken road. I'm growing more and more excited about the months ahead, and slowly allowing myself to open up to the realization that I could be holding my very own child in my arms next spring.
It's been a long three and a half years, and it still doesn't quite feel real.
But this time, it is.
"God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."