My last night with our baby  

Tonight as I tucked you in, I knew that this was going to be the last time I would kiss a sleepy infant good-night. Tomorrow night I will sing “Goodnight Willow” to a toddler.  I shed a tear, not out some imagined grief over “losing my little baby”, but out of sheer wonder, amazement, and gratitude. How did we get so lucky? How did we get this far?

The past twelve months have been filled with incredibly powerful and overwhelming moments of physical, spiritual, and intellectual growth. You have changed the world with your presence, little miracle. You brought hope and light with your ability to not only survive but thrive in difficult conditions, from the very moment you decided to stick. You earned your name before you were even born. You have challenged, taught, and loved us with your whole being. Life on this planet will never be the same. 
Daddy and I started to dream, think and talk about you in 2001. In 2008, we received the blessing of mommy’s family physician and specialists, a Cuban official, and Rev. Dr. (Great Uncle) Julius to try to bring you into this world. On the first day of Spring in 2014, you arrived in the wee hours of the morning, to the sound of your new mother laughing and singing with tears streaming down her face. Years of dreaming, praying and loving you into existence. You were finally here, and for that moment all was right in the world. 
You took away the empty arms and the aching hearts. You replaced them with a whole new set of challenges. Challenges that we were ready, willing, and grateful to face because we had been so well-prepared and had waited so very long to finally meet you. 

Every day I find so many reasons to celebrate your life, and our life as a family. I see you and Daddy building block towers and playing with cars on the living room carpet and my heart melts to see the amazing father and person he has become because of you. I watch you shake in anticipation as you reach for a tambourine and feel the goosebumps rising on my own arms. I smile as you stare in wide-eyed wonder at the fish in the aquarium, laughing gleefully with you when Sparkles comes to kiss your fingers through the glass. I marvel at your budding sense of humour as you pretend that a bib is a hat. I admire your determination and ability to figure out baby gates, doors, drawers, and how to get around anything that might be standing in the way of chasing a kitten. I love how you spontaneously break into dance when you hear music or rhythmic clapping, how your face lights up when we sing the toothbrush song at the table, how you turn the pages of a book and stare intently at each page, how you thoughtfully choose and then tap the pair of socks you want to wear. I love that you feel your feelings so intensely and can cry and laugh with equal amounts of passion. I love how you love with abandon, with every fibre of your being, delivering full-body hugs and open-mouthed kisses to the cheek. I love how you constantly pull me out of my thinking brain and into my body, into the present moment with you. I love who you have made me become and how you have made me see the world so clearly. I love being your mommy. 
You may never fully understand how truly loved and wanted you were and are. God willing, we will both live long enough for you to roll your teenaged eyes at me while I remind you of this fact with absolute conviction, and to smile wearily down at me when we are both in the Silver Fox Club and I continue to tell you how truly wanted and loved you were and are. 
You will always be MB in my heart, our little miracle baby who finally found her way into our loving arms.  You will always be cherished for the unique and beautiful human being that you are and will become. You will, without a doubt, continue to be my greatest teacher and the person who challenges me to grow more than I could ever dream possible. 
Thank you for choosing us to be your “Mama and Dada” and for being patient with us as we stumble along and grow into the best people, partners and parents we can be. Thank you for coming at just the right time, even if we didn’t realize it as we waited for you. Thank you for teaching us about strength, determination, faith, hope, patience, forgiveness, healing, and love.
 I cherish you. 
Happy birthday, my sweet baboo.

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Mommy Club Outcast

The dreaded question that all women struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss have to learn to cope with is: “Do you have kids?”

It’s an innocent question that can elicit a range of emotions, depending on where we are on our journey.

I was out for dinner with my family. I ran into a mother and her young child in the bathroom. She asked the aforementioned dreaded question. This time I was able to say “Yes… My little girl is sitting with her daddy.”

It was a small victory, the realization that this was the first time I had been asked this question since the birth of my daughter… I was finally able to answer without hesitating, stammering, blushing, or wanting to crawl underneath the nearest floor board. I had made it. At long last, I was now officially part of the exclusive “Mommy Club”.

The woman sighed an exasperated and exaggerated sigh. “Oh… too late. I was going to tell you DON’T DO IT! Run away now while you can!”

And there you have it.

I will NEVER truly be part of the Mommy Club.

As long as being part of the “club” includes resenting my child and commiserating with other mothers (even in jest) about hating being a parent and how much I miss my childless days… I can never be a member.

In my mommy circles I spend a lot of time listening to what others have to say… but I seem to have nothing to add that makes sense in the context of the conversations. We are experiencing the same kinds of universal parenting events: diaper changes, feeding, sleepless nights, vomit stained shirts… but my perception of the events is so vastly different. I just don’t “fit in”.

When I was pregnant I tried to join some online pregnancy forums. It turns out that many of these communities are simply venting boards for women to complain about morning sickness and other pregnancy discomforts. They are not seeking solutions or sharing suggestions or ideas, just wanting someone out there in internet land to say “Oh, you poor thing”. I didn’t belong in the normal virtual preggo club. Nor did I belong in the real life preggo club in the OB/GYN waiting room, which was mostly comprised of women lamenting their rapidly thickening waists, swollen ankles, nausea and heartburn.

Communities specifically geared toward high risk pregnancies and pregnancy after loss were more my style. These women knew anxiety and pain. These women celebrated with me when my nausea and vomiting continued at full tilt and required medication in order for me to gain enough weight to support a growing baby, reassuring me every day until she was born that I was still pregnant and that the pregnancy hormones were still raging strong. These women joined with me in celebrating the expanding belly that pointed to a developing fetus, the intense heartburn that reflected positive hormonal changes, the pelvic and back pain which indicated that my body was shifting to accommodate its precious cargo, the need for extra doses of insulin to keep up with the baby’s impact on my endocrine system, the need for extra iron to help with the anemia which was proof of the growing demands of my growing baby… They cheered me on as each week of bed rest bought another week for my baby’s organs to mature and for her weight to increase. Every typical pregnancy symptom, every bit of discomfort, was met with a round of applause because it meant that I was STILL pregnant, that this pregnancy was progressing, that this baby had a fighting chance at survival.

The impact of infertility and loss does not just disappear the moment you see two lines on a urine test or the moment you hold your baby in your arms. I wonder if I will always feel like an outsider looking in at the “club”.

This journey has given me the gift of being able to truly enjoy and celebrate what others may have considered a very difficult and uncomfortable pregnancy and birth. My experiences have ensured that I will appreciate every single vomit and urine-soaked moment on this wild ride of parenthood. Perhaps I get all of that in exchange for not really belonging in the Mommy Club. And maybe that’s a pretty good deal.

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