Last night we attended the infant CPR class that we signed up for a few weeks ago. It went well and we learned a lot. I did get a sick feeling and chills all over when we watched some of the scenarios on the video. I guess I wasn't expecting that, but it was quite scary to imagine myself in those situations with my child (or any child). We were glad that we went, though, and we certainly hope we never have to use what we learned.
Something else I wasn't expecting was that the class was held in a building I used to frequent. I have a lot of memories in that building and not many (okay, none) of them good. The very first fertility clinic we ever visited is just a few floors up from where we met for the class. I realized a few things when we revisited it last night.
First, that feels like a lifetime ago.
Second, I don't remember feeling a whole lot of hope back then.
It was actually 2003 and not really a lifetime ago, and it was after my second miscarriage. The pregnancy had progressed a lot like the first. I'd made it to 11 weeks, almost the second trimester, before we discovered that something was wrong via ultrasound. I thought I was 11 weeks along, but the baby had not survived that long. Twice. We decided to pursue some initial testing before trying for a third, which we finally achieved a full year later. That pregnancy was short lived, though. It hadn't even gone as "well" as my first two and I remember how hopeless we felt.
But is it possible to feel hopelessly devastated and yet hopeful in a way? I guess I was a bit hopeful. I was young and we still had avenues to explore. It was so, so hard having to lose those three precious babies, but we had a purpose. We wanted to find out what was wrong, why this was happening, and we wanted to "fix" it. And it was that same year that we discovered I had a septum in my uterus. Aha! An answer! More testing and a couple of surgeries followed before pregnancy number four, which we were sure would make it. And oh, we were hopeful then. But there we were in that same dreaded building, two years later, with a doctor who told us that, quite frankly, she didn't think that our beautiful baby with the beating heart was going to make it. And she turned out to be right, much to our shock and horror. We didn't want to believe her because the baby was growing and had survived longer than the others. So we ran away from her negativity and sought another opinion. Yes, the baby did look okay! But we needed to keep monitoring the pregnancy. At the next visit, our baby had died. Again, a part of me had, too.
From there we tried to pick ourselves up and start again. We had more tests. We returned to that same building to consult a high-risk pregnancy doctor, who seemed to lose interest in us after our next two pregnancies didn't last very long despite his recommendations. And yes, again in that same building we were shuffled back to my original OB-GYN, who in her complete lack of knowledge about treating recurrent pregnancy loss, told me (over the phone, no less) that she was sure I had some kind of genetic problem that would prevent me from ever having a normal, healthy pregnancy. While I had been devastated before, I think that was the day it felt like my very soul was crushed and my heart completely broken.
Even though we weren't sure we could pick up the pieces again after six losses and such a grim prognosis (or opinion, as it were), it began to feel like a brand new era when we left that building behind and sought help from Dr G. We let the sun set on that place and moved into a new day. It was still hard. It was scary to start again. What if he looked at us like we were crazy for pursuing this? What if we were setting ourselves up for failure again? There were certainly hopeless and fearful times ahead. It took two and a half years before anything happened and during that time we still didn't really find answers. Six babies gone and still no answers. That was truly difficult. I had become pretty good at trying not to dwell on it or think too much about what we'd been through. When I look back now it was like I had been living in a fog for years. Starting this blog and going through the process of writing about it helped me work a lot of that out. I started letting myself feel the sadness of loss again, but soon I started to feel another familiar feeling, too. Hope.
No, I never expected that going to that class last night, circling that parking lot again and stepping back into that building, would open up so many old wounds. But I see now how far we've come and how much we had to overcome to get here. That's why I still don't feel like an ordinary pregnant woman, I guess. I know deep down inside that the odds were against us and against this baby. Yet somehow, here we are.
Right next door to that building is the hospital where I miscarried some of our babies. It's also the hospital where we will meet our daughter in about 11 weeks.
It feels strange to think that one day a building on that street will hold happy memories for us. Unless they tear it down someday, that building full of sad memories will stand next to the hospital where Lily will be born. Even then, in the years to come, it will be a memorial to me of all we went through to get to this place. And that will give us all the more reason to rejoice.