Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Reflecting on 2012

I do not generally revere New Years Eve or New Years day, mostly because I have never really been able to grasp what is so special about it, other than it being another excuse to celebrate and do something special with friends and loved ones.  In my view, a new year starts every single day - every single second, in fact.  In that sense, New Years is no different from any other day of the year, except that it marks the end (and beginning) of the calendar year.
That said, I do sometimes take the opportunity on New Years to reflect on the past 12 months, and to give some thought to how I want or anticipate the next 12 months to go.  I did just that last year, on January 1, 2012.  In retrospect, it is amazing how wrong I was.  2012 was nothing like we had expected.
I started 2012 full of hope, and plans.  We had been trying to conceive since September 2011, and did not yet know that we had been successful in creating a little life together in December.  Dreaming about starting our family was therefore my focus last New Years.  I knew nothing about miscarriage or fertility problems (other than that I suspected that I had low progesterone), and gave no thought whatsoever to the possibility that once I became pregnant, there might be any outcome other than a bouncing baby in my arms nine months later.
I also began 2012 somewhat resigned to the fact that I would be "stuck" in my then-current job forever.  I was a commercial litigator at the time.  While I loved (and still love) law from an academic perspective, I had come to realize over the course of my 6 year career that a private litigation practice did not make me happy.  In fact, in some ways, I hated it.  It was however all that I was trained to do.  After 7 years of school and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, I felt trapped.  When we decided to start our family, I knew at that point that the time for making a drastic career change had passed.  We needed the stability and financial security that my position provided.  We could not afford to forgo my salary while I went back to school.  While I was willing to accept a salary cut in exchange for happiness, I had not yet found an alternate position or career opportunity that I felt would provide that trade off.  I had therefore accepted that I would return to my position as a litigator after taking no more than a few months of maternity leave following the birth of our first child.
 As I said, 2012 turned out very differently than I had expected. 
 In January 2012, we found out that I was pregnant.  We were shocked, as I had experienced what I thought was my period in December, in that I bled for a week, right on schedule.  As we tried again in what we thought was a new cycle in January, we could not figure out why I was not ovulating "on schedule", despite the fact that I continued to get postive ovulation test readings every day.  I started to bleed/spot after sex, which had become painful because my breasts literally felt like they were going to fall off.  So, against all logic, I took a test.  As I said, we were shocked to see two pink lines.  Shocked, and absolutely elated.
 Sadly though, the spotting continued.  I had several ultrasounds, where I saw our seemingly normal and healthy child, with a strong heartbeat each time.  There was no explanation for the bleeding; all we could do was hope and pray.  It was not enough.  We said goodbye to our angel baby in our home in late January, 2012. 
 I had thought that I had experienced pain and loss in my life before last year, and that I understood what it meant to have your heart broken.  I was wrong.  Nothing compared or can compare to the loss of a child, even when that child is still the size of a raspberry, growing inside you.  My entire world fell apart.  My heart was literally broken.
 Several days later, I received an email from a company that I had applied for a job with the previous August.  To say that it was my dream job is not an exageration.  I had coveted the position for years, however, there had been no openings for a long time.  I still checked their website weekly, and when I saw the posting, I could not get my resume out quickly enough. I went through the interview process, but had heard nothing from them for many weeks.  I had assumed and accepted that the job had gone to someone else.  Again, I was wrong.  Just days after losing our first child, I was offered my dream job - and the opportunity to escape a life that I had felt forced to accept.  It was such a bittersweet time.  I do believe though that that opportunity ultimately did help me heal (or hide) from the pain of our loss.
 Given that I was starting a new job, and not just any job, but THE job, we decided to put trying to conceive on hold for a few months while I settled in.  I also needed that time to mourn my first baby.  I was just not ready to try again so quickly.
 In the interim, we underwent fertility testing at the insistence of my doctor, who refused to deal with the progesterone deficiency without first running a full battery of tests.  The news was not good (although I certainly recognize that it could have been worse).  As I suspected, I was diagnosed with low progesterone.  I was also diagnosed with low ovarian reserve.  My husband had very low sperm motility, and a varicoscele. 
 We decided that in the circumstances, we couldn't wait any longer.  We therefore began trying again with the assistance of our fertility clinic, including one monitored natural cycle, one unmedicated IUI, and one cycle of Gonal-f.  That last cycle gave us our BFP.
 As you know from reading this blog, our second pregnancy did not go smoothly.  We had our second miscarriage early on, when we lost Bug's twin.  The hematoma and constant bleeding thereafter resulted in this pregnancy being by far the most difficult experience of my life.  To be falling ever more deeply in love with this child inside you, all the while knowing that you had a strong chance of losing him at any time....well, that was tough. 
 So here I sit again, reflecting on the last 12 months, and giving some thought to the future.  In the end, while 2012 brought more heartache than I could ever have anticipated, it also brought great joy, and good fortune.  We are so very blessed that through our love for each other (and with a little medical help), we were able to create yet another prescious life, who has thrived despite all odds.  Our relationship with each other has also grown stronger, as we faced the loss of two babies and the ever-present threat of losing Bug together.  The fact that I was lucky enough to finally find happiness and fulfillment in my career is an added and very meaningful bonus.
 As for looking ahead to 2013, well, I have I have very high hopes.  While I know that life can turn out very differently than you anticipate, I refuse to enter this year with anything but hope, faith and optimism.  I can't wait to meet our son, and to begin this new chapter in our lives together, as a family.

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