I remember everything about your life.
I remember the day I decided I was doing this. I had been thinking and planning for so long. I had done testing. I was talking to the doctors in my last city. They were so supportive. Then I found out I was moving here. Things were delayed, but you were always my plan.
This state was different. It was a bible belt hospital here, and I was an odd one. They didn’t want me to have you. They didn’t know how to deal with a single woman whose strongest desire was to have a child. But I fought for you, and I won.
But after months of fighting, I realized the hospital and I weren’t a good fit. I wanted to use a known donor, and they couldn’t accommodate. I wanted you to know your genetic history. That was more important to me than making that policy change.
I spent a long time searching for the right candidate to form the other half of you. It started before I moved here, and it took years. There were several false starts. I almost chose someone who I later found had withheld some significant medical information from me. I became more cautious, and in the end, I found the person I considered right.
I remember learning and tracking my cycle in the months while I waited for his donation to quarantine. I responded so well to a test round of Clomid that my doctor and I decided we wouldn’t use any medication for the first several rounds of insemination.
I remember my last period before we tried for the first time. I was on a work trip to Colorado, and had just enjoyed what would turn out to be my last drink before becoming pregnant. It was a large mimosa. My coworker and I walked to our gate and I felt the first stirrings of cramps. I sat on the ground waiting for our slightly late aircraft and I remember thinking, “This could be the last time for nine months.” It was.
I remember the morning I was inseminated, the first and only time. I was worried because I needed to be at work, but I couldn’t miss my shot. I was expecting to have to try for six months at least. I was already so excited to meet you!
It hurt a little. I remember being unprepared for the pain. They said my cervix was very far back, hard to reach. I remember breathing through the pain, thinking about holding you. You were worth anything.
I remember going to lunch with my boss that day. Thai food. I didn’t tell him what I’d done that morning. It was a secret just for me. But I felt different, giddy. And I knew that if I told him, he would be supportive. I was lucky to have a supervisor who understood, who believed in me.
I remember the stress of the two week wait. I had read about it, but I always assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal for me. I tried to distract myself. I painted the newly finished walls in the garage. I realized afterwards that might not have been a good idea, so I bought a respirator before I did a second coat.
The next week, your Aunt Alexis* and I had travel plans. We were going to Disneyworld. I woke up the morning before we left, and my breasts were sore. I remember thinking that was a good reason to take a test. I even had an EPT, the kind that are supposed to detect pregnancy up to five days sooner. It was negative.
I remember getting on the plane with my sister. I had credit for free drinks, but I didn’t use it, just in case. I remember the rainy first day at the hotel. We almost hadn’t come because there was a hurricane the week prior.
I remember swimming in the hotel pool the next day. The water was cold, so I moved to the hot tub. I remember reading the sign saying it was bad for pregnant women to sit in Jacuzzis. I got out, just in case.
I remember the following morning. We were packing for the Magic Kingdom, and I was about to pack my pads. I was supposed to start my period that day. I suddenly realized what that meant — I was never, ever, late. I had brought a test with me, just in case. It was positive.
I remember falling in love with you that day. Nothing could break my smile. You were exactly who I always wanted you to be. You were alive.
I remember every moment of your life. I remember getting confirmation from my regular doctor, and then from my fertility specialist. I remember watching your tiniest of heartbeats on the monitor at just six weeks old. I remember how much you had grown just two weeks later. You looked like a tiny perfect human being.
I remember the first day I had morning sickness, and I almost had to pull over on the way to work because I thought for sure I was going to be sick. I remember the seven weeks after that, and how I ate so little I’m surprised you had any energy to grow at all, but you did.
I remember finally getting an appointment into OB. They didn’t like to see new moms until 10 weeks. I was nervous. I remember hearing your heartbeat for the first time. It was so fast, I hardly recognized it. I remember starting in our Centering group, a group of pregnant women all due around the same time. It was nice to have others around who understood.
I remember your 12 week ultrasound. You were so tiny, and you danced all over the screen. At one point, I even saw your feet. You were perfect.
I remember the first time you kicked. I was sitting in Centering, and I felt the weirdest sensation, like you had actually pulled on my lower belly. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but that’s how it felt. You were 20 weeks then.
I remember your anatomy ultrasound. I had delayed it by a week because sometimes they had to be repeated. You were not happy that day. After 20 weeks of virtual silence, you kicked your butt off that afternoon. I think you didn’t like the wand. I lay there, twisting and turning, the tech trying to get the best images. After an hour, we called it good. We didn’t have everything, but I think you proved you were the healthiest of tiny humans. To me, you were perfect.
I remember hungry days and busy days, and the day I finally put on the maternity uniform. Most people knew, but I still tried to delay it. Those things are darn uncomfortable!
Every day, I felt for your kicks. I never did official kick counts. I don’t know how to process this now. You were very active some days, and less active on others. You often pushed something round and hard against my right ribs. It may have been your butt, but lately I know it’s been your feet. I viewed this as a good thing. I tickled you and sometimes I pushed back. I thought this meant you were healthy, active. But I feel the knot in my right side today and you aren’t moving any more. Now I don’t know if it ever counted at all.
I remember so much about you. I remember your heart rate averaged in the 130s, and you always kicked at the heartbeat wand, and you didn’t like the NST straps the first time they were applied. I remember you were wiggly in the mornings, and often at night, and you always reacted to cold water. I remember the night you moved from my right to my left side, and how your movements always tickled. I loved every piece I could feel of you. I love you so very much.
I remember every piece and moment of your life, up until you kicked so hard I saw my stomach move last night. It reassured me. We were so close to the end, and I needed that movement to tell me you were okay.
I don’t understand it, little one. I don’t understand how you could be here, and then not. I don’t understand how you’re still in my belly, but you’re already gone. I don’t understand how the world makes sense anymore. I never got to hold you, and I miss you so much. My heart is broken.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.