Having an infant has put a serious crimp in my leisure reading schedule. By that, I mean it’s been cut from 4-5 hours a week down to 20 minutes, if I’m lucky. The local library is going to love me – I’ll be supplying a lot more funding to them in the form of late fees, since it’s going to take months to read a book rather than days.
But I digress (as usual).
I’m reading a book called The Godmother, and its main character (Tessa) has 7 best friends, 6 of whom are parents (she’s godmother to all of them, hence the title). Tessa’s 7th friend, Claudia, has been trying assisted reproduction for over 9 years. When the book opens, Claudia shyly announces that she is finally pregnant as a result of IVF – 12 weeks, and safe to finally share the news.
Professional godmother Tessa is delighted (but cautious – and almost terrified to talk about it for fear something will happen). A few weeks later, Claudia reassures her that it’s okay to talk about the pregnancy. Nothing is going to happen; after all, she’s 14 weeks along now.
Mere hours later, Claudia’s hemorrhaging and losing her baby to miscarriage. The scene was incredibly well-written – at least, I think it was, because it felt so real to me. But perhaps that’s my own residual feelings about trying to get pregnant and failing (though I was lucky enough to never have experienced a miscarriage personally; just a lot of negative pregnancy tests).
Despite my better judgment (which was telling me to put down the book and go to sleep, because Peanut would be waking within 90 minutes for her first feeding of the night, and I should get as much shut-eye as I could!), I kept reading, tears spilling down my face. I grieved right along with Claudia and her husband as the tragedy unfolded.
When I could stand it no longer, I climbed out of bed and tiptoed into Peanut’s room. At great peril of waking her early, I reached into the crib and lay my fingertips on her tummy, breathing a sigh of relief when I felt the slight rise and fall of her tiny lungs pressing on my hand.
I needed to feel my little girl’s warm skin to remind me that she was real, that everything was okay.
The book had reminded me that my happy ending could just as easily have been unhappy. A butterfly could have flapped his wings in Shanghai and my pregnancy test would have been negative, or a gene could have randomly mutated and caused a pregnancy-ending genetic defect. But it didn’t.
I’m one of the lucky ones, and not a day should ever go by that I don’t remember that and thank the world for giving us a healthy little Peanut-girl.
A friend of mine, and his wife, welcomed a little boy into this world last week – several weeks before he was scheduled to arrive. Their little man was born just short of 30 weeks gestation. He weighed over 2 pounds and breathed on his own, and was delivered in the exact same room as our Peanut.
The day Little Man arrived, I spent all day thinking about my new-father friend, and how hard it must have been as doctors inserted tubes, took blood, and did the necessary setup to treat a preemie. I remember hearing the nurses give Peanut her hep-B shot the night she was born; her “pain cry” nearly tore me in two. To see your little one trailing wires and tubes, lying in an incubator, so tiny and vulnerable, must be exponentially harder; my heart goes out to both of them.
And I look at my Peanut. My healthy, mostly-happy-unless-she’s-gassy Peanut, with all her fingers and toes, sleeping peacefully without a care in the world.
After a night with just 4 scant hours of fragmented sleep… when a car trip turns into a baby screaming session that drives both Baby and Mom to tears… and when you look around your messy laundry-covered living room and feel like you’ll never get caught up… Those are the times that it’s easy to forget that there are bigger problems in this world than yours.
These are good problems to have. I’ll take them, and I will thank the universe for allowing me to experience them.