That moment in April of 2011 when those two little blue lines appeared, all my instinctual knowing rose up and through my body, turned into tears that started pouring while whispering, “We told you so!”
I had known I was pregnant from the beginning; it had been nearly two months. But I didn’t trust “that feeling” after an initial “negative” pregnancy test I took around my second week. So, for the following weeks I dismissed all the VERY typical signs of pregnancy as me “just being hormonal.” I had always been irregular. I was going to start soon, that’s all.
But this very moment was when intuition and hard science came together on a plastic stick to verify “YES: you ARE having a baby.” I immediately called Brian who was at the library working on a 25-page paper to break the news, which I did ever so awkwardly and uneventfully: “Uh … I have something to tell you.” He was both surprised and happy. I was surprised, too, but a more fitting word is probably “shocked.”
Whoa whoa whoa. This isn’t supposed to happen yet. I just bought my dress …
But THIS was happening. Whether that fit into my plan or not (more on that to come); it was happening. Another human being was placed into our lives. The excitement of becoming a mom immediately turned my bewilderment into complete bliss.
I was getting married and having a baby!
Previously, while a tiny person was transforming from cells into a gummy bear (seen above), on my birthday in March, Brian asked me to marry him. We had been taking it easy on the wedding planning unaware of the fact that our little baby was rapidly growing inside, so when we found out it was a two-month-long marathon to the finish, but we somehow successfully pulled it all together and were married on June 26th, 2011. It was an absolutely beautiful and wonderful event for us and our family and friends.
We were in the midst of an exhilarating time of our lives. So much excitement and anticipation all wrapped up into such a short amount of time. Our little darling was on the way, we joined hands and hearts in marriage, and had just moved into our first apartment together. We found out we were having a girl, started talking about names, buying baby clothes and toys (including a ridiculously expensive $50 stuffed animal. First-time parents much?), and just started feeling the movement of our little girl within the mysterious world inside my then very obvious “bump.”
We couldn’t have been happier.
With all that momentum, I suppose it makes sense that something had to slow everything to a startling halt. And that’s exactly what happened.
It all began sometime around the 26th week, you know, when you first begin to really show, and you hold those tiny shoes in your hands and imagine your perfect little baby wearing them, and you realize that all those dreams you had since you were nine years old about having a family were actually starting to come true … and you start imagining whose eyes and ears and nose and mouth she‘ll have, and if she’ll like to read and draw pictures with you, and if she’ll agree with her mom and think her dad is funny, but only because he’s a huge dork, or if she’ll turn out equally as dorky as him.
Yeah, right about that time is when the nurse practitioner, who we had to see because my Ob-gyn was on vacation, stormed into the room where I sat happily with a halo of pregnancy glimmering all around me, and blurted, “So you know there’s something wrong with your baby’s brain, right?”
No, we didn’t.
In fact, that was the first time anyone had told us that something “showed up” on the ultrasound we’d had the week before. In that very instant my pregnancy turned from one where I was a giddy glowy mommy-to-be to my new persona: a sullen and anxious medical-specimen. From there we went to specialist after specialist, and what everybody continued to see was “an enlarged fluid space in the cerebellum” that they all started calling (a few times very abruptly and inconsiderately) “Dandy Walker Variant“ which is a form of a rare syndrome that causes mild-to-profound motor function delays and the possibility of significant health issues. No one could tell us within those vast ranges what we could expect. Would we have a daughter who couldn’t hold a pencil correctly, one who would never speak or walk, one with learning disabilities, or one who would be in need of complete medical assistance her entire life?
For the second and third trimesters of my pregnancy, I was haunted by this diagnosis. Nearly all of my excited, wishful thinking — about how she’d look in this outfit or that, how she’d act and talk, and all the things we’d do together — ceased. I couldn’t bear to think about it because all of those things were now attached to fears. What if she couldn’t talk? What if we’d never run around in the yard together? Instead of dreaming, I studied. I spent many of my latter pregnancy days reading well into the early morning, everything I could about Dandy-Walker. And I remember a few very stressful, confusing, and tear-filled evenings Brian and I spent regurgitating everything our minds had been absorbing.
We were devastated. But with our hands, heads, and hearts together, we were okay. We knew we’d be okay. We had each other: “No matter what,” he told me. “Don’t let them steal your joy away from you. You deserve to have a happy pregnancy.” That meant the world to me.
And so I didn’t. With the strength and faith we had in one another, I was able to open up to our little one. I finally started writing to her in a journal I’d had for months. Brian did, too. I allowed myself to be okay with whatever would be.
We both loved and would always love her absolutely.
Eleanor was born on November 16th, 2011! Read about that here:
To our surprise and relief, when Eleanor was 4 months old, the neurologist ruled out any neurological issue based on an MRI, but coincidentally we also realized around this time that her eyes never fixated and continually “roved” about (nystagmus), which led us to said MRI, but then to an ophthalmologist after the neurological issue was ruled out. You can read about that here: Eleanor’s Eyes
* We wanted this to be the first post, so we dated it early. Actually written on 4/2/13.