Our trip to Arizona was great–Natalie and Logan were amazing hosts and they thought of every detail–but the Real Reason we were there was so I could get a hysteroscopy, which is where a doctor uses pressurized saline solution to expand one’s uterus and then puts a scope up there to look around. Also ultrasounds and stuff. It is not as comfortable as it sounds.
We did it on our last day in town, which happened to be my birthday. As we got closer to it, my stomach tied itself in a knot. My whole body felt twitchy and restless. I’m not scared of pain or overly modest. I was a bit nervous about the procedure, but more, I was overwhelmed by how real it all felt, very suddenly. I felt that way a bit when I went on the Pill again, after years off of it, to make my cycle line up right for this appointment. But knowing that I was about to have the first of many actual medical procedures associated with it ramped my nerves up to a whole new level. I couldn’t eat or sleep. The last time I felt like that was when I was trying to decide about whether to have their baby, back in August.
The whole trip was about it becoming more real, honestly. On the way there (which was stressful), Natalie texted me: “Well this challenging day exists because of me. Soooo Thank you!” and I wrote back, “True. I’m too exhausted to process any of this right now so I’m pretending this whole trip was my idea.” (She also texted me: “Well I’m waiting outside the security checkpoint to escort you. I have a sign says ‘will you carry my baby.'” I like that she’s funny, even about this.) But once I was there, I couldn’t pretend anymore.
We worked through some contract stuff and talked about dates. I tried to keep myself together, but it was hard. It’s hard to negotiate these kinds of details with people I’m still just getting to know.
The night before the procedure, Natalie and I stayed up talking about all of it. I know that the loss she’s aware of is the loss of experiencing the pregnancy. I’m aware, though, of another loss, which is the birth. I had such great birth experiences, I’m sorry for moms who miss out on that (either because they adopted or because they had birth experiences that were not great). For me, even Silas’ birth (which was less good) was a powerful adventure, and one that I am glad I had. I said, “I know I can’t give you that, but I was wondering–and you can say no, or change your mind–but during each of my babies’ births, there was a point where I couldn’t hear anyone but JC. He was helping me and the midwives were helping him. I was just focused all on him. He was the person who was right there with me, who I was holding onto, who was reminding me to drink some water and telling me I was doing okay. I was wondering if you’d want to do that for this birth. JC would be right there, of course, but it’s your baby. And you could catch him. It might be gross.”
She said yes.
We had a wonderful conversation, but after it, my head was even more buzzy and I couldn’t sleep at all.
Oh, and it was on my birthday.
I get funny when I’m nervous. How hilarious I’m being is a good measure of how freaked out I am. Silas’ birth was just one long joke fest, which is not a good thing. When I was waiting in the exam room, I texted Natalie a joke about the art:
“Now I’m waiting in the ultrasound room and there are all these photos of orchids, which Georgia O’Keefe famously said look like vaginas. Trying to decide if the decorator did that on purpose.” That, more than my unusually high blood pressure (120/70!) was my clue that I was even more anxious than I had realized.
Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t think I was funny. She asked me several times if I was allergic to iodine or shellfish. After the fourth time, I finally said, “Why, are you going to put a lobster up there?” She didn’t even smile, just said, “Of course not.”
The procedure itself was supposed to take about 5 minutes, but they found a small polyp, so they did the whole thing over again to confirm it. It ended up being 45 minutes. It was not painful, mostly, but certainly uncomfortable. At one point, I started crying and trying to explain that it was just nerves and I wasn’t in pain (much). I think I freaked out pretty much everyone in the room. I now feel totally prepared for my alien abduction. Afterward, we had a confusing conversation with the doctor about scheduling and timelines and money and I’m not even sure what else.
I still feel good about Logan and Natalie. I actually feel good about the pregnancy and birth. I’m no dummy, I know that things can go badly there, but I’ve done pregnancy and birth before. All the medical stuff at the beginning–the shots, the various doctors, the lawyers–that stuff has me a little freaked.
Natalie seemed to feel bad when she realized how flustered I was. I said:
I keep thinking about a conversation I had with Silas earlier in the month. He was supposed to spend three days with my mom while I was in New Jersey, but he didn’t want to because he was scared of how it would feel to be missing me and JC. I said, “You know you’ll have lots of fun with Grammie, though, right?” And he said yes. So I said that it’s a bad idea to miss out on something fun because you’re scared of painful feelings. He understood that and had a great time with my mom (although he was happy to get back home, too). That’s how I feel about having your baby. I know that parts of it will be painful (physically and emotionally), and I’d be lying to myself and everyone else if I denied it, but fear of pain is a terrible reason to not do something that is also exciting and amazing.
I want you to remember that I had a choice. I asked everyone I could to find out what it would be like, and I understood what I was getting into, possibly more than you understood what you were asking. You don’t need to feel bad about it. I’m not afraid.
And it’s true, I’m not. But I am overwhelmed by all this reality of what it will take to make this baby, and I think Natalie and Logan are, too.