By Ashley Pressman
For you, I was strong. I was strong as I tracked cycles, as I researched options, as I told the specialists what trends I saw and as I asked to try something else. I was strong even when those options meant waiting longer. I was strong through 58 doctor’s appointments, 79 lab draws, 437 injections, 5 retrievals, 8 transfers, and 4 miscarriages.
For you, I prayed. I prayed and I begged and I bargained every night before bed. I prayed at home as I waited and searched for two lines on home pregnancy tests until my eyes burned. I prayed at doctor’s appointments, as I stared over and over at ultrasound screens, tracking measurements and searching for any hint of a tiny heartbeat.
For you, I endured. I endured the well-meaning comments of loved ones early on. I was assured that one loss didn’t mean I would continue to be unsuccessful. Still, my worries convinced me otherwise. I was told that I was lucky to have a child already. Yet I knew that he and I both needed you. And I endured the loneliness of feeling as though I was the only person whose body had betrayed them in this way.
For you, I watched the calendar. I watched the calendar as time passed and you didn’t arrive. I watched the calendar as due dates passed for babies that I would never deliver. I watched as those around me delivered babies around the due dates that I had lost. I watched those babies grow, and knew mine would have been hitting the same milestones. And I watched the calendar as each year your father and I grew older, and I worried about what that would mean for you.
For you, I celebrated others. I celebrated all the new little lives that came while I waited for you. I knitted baby blankets and I attended baby showers and I held new little babies that I wished were you. Each time I celebrated others, I became a better person. I became a person who could celebrate that joy for others, without jealousy. Thank you so much, baby girl.
For you, I said goodbye. I said goodbye to the tiny lives that came before you. The ones that I had barely carried, but with whom I still had time to fall in love. I said goodbye quietly, afraid no one around me would understand how I could grieve something that I had so briefly. They could not know that while those pregnancies only lasted for a few weeks, I had known and planned for those babies for months. Each time, I had chosen due dates and spent weeks preparing my body. Many times those embryos were frozen, and I had spent months anxiously awaiting the opportunity to carry them. For you, I said goodbye to those tiny parts of me.
For you, I dreamed. I dreamed of what you would look like. In every one of my pre-pregnancy daydreams I knew you would be a girl. I dreamed of a little “me”, with dark auburn hair, green eyes, and freckles that you would spend all of your teen years trying to scrub off. You are here, and I am in love with your pale blond hair and those beautiful eyes that are so blue that I sometimes mistake them for purple. I don’t mind being wrong, but I am still hoping one day to see some freckles on your pretty face.
For you, I wrote this letter two different ways. As I drove back from too many doctor’s appointments in tears. Driving for two hours each way with too many thoughts and too many emotions. Before you even existed – over and over – I wrote this letter, the one you are reading right now, to you. But I also wrote another letter with a different ending. A letter to the dream of you. I wrote it in my head, eyes welled with tears as I said goodbye to you, fearing you would always only be
a dream. I wrote it nearly two years in, on one particular drive, after a discouraging appointment. I didn’t think my IVF cycle would make any embryos strong enough to grow a baby inside my poisonous womb. At that appointment, 70 some visits in, my doctor assured me that it would just take one. That cycle created 2 healthy embryos. Having had failure after cycles that were two and three times as productive as that one, I didn’t believe it would be enough. And yet my little love, you were one of those 2. Just as I had almost given up, you were there, just waiting to be.
For me, you and your brother are perfect. He came to us needy and loud. Today he is still so very loud, but also clever and funny and so very sweet. You came to us calm and cuddly and I am patiently waiting to see who you become. Because for me, everything about you and your brother is amazing. I would do it all for you again and again. Because for you, two years passed and my heart broke over and over. But you are here now and, for you, I am forever changed and forever better than before.