One year ago today, we saw our Hollis Beau for the first time. A memory simultaneously filled with both joy and fear.
Ever since finding out I was pregnant again after our loss, I surrendered everything I had to hope: hope in this baby being healthy, hope in me finding strength to get through 9 months of living in the unknown. Pregnancy taught me the one life lesson I choose to relearn day after day: when I am not in control, I need to let go of fear and lean into love.
When we found out our first pregnancy may not be viable and needed further testing, I went into a rabbit hole of taking in all the information. I needed to know everything that could go wrong in a pregnancy and hear stories of the miracle children that came out not only alive, but healthy and thriving. It provided me this false sense of hope by listing all of the "this could happen..." day after day to my husband and best friend. It consumed my mind. It was all I could think about. It was all I could talk about. As much as consuming information made me feel a sliver of control, it didn't change the fact that we would receive a phone call one afternoon telling us our girl was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome and < 1% chance of surviving.
To know surprise, the world only got darker for the next few days, weeks and months. At one point, I decided I had sat in the dark long enough. I was ready to live my life again - a life that wasn't consumed by pregnancy or pregnancy loss. I let go of fear and gave into love.
When we were greeted with two pink lines just a month later, I soaked up all the peace I felt in that moment. I knew the next nine months wasn't going to be easy, but I was grateful. So grateful.
I purposefully planned our first ultrasound to be at a time where I knew we'd be at least 8 weeks. I hadn't tracked ovulation - I had an idea of when we conceived but wasn't sure. I couldn't fathom going into the appointment and being greeted with the unknown - was it too early? Or was it another non viable pregnancy? I would be patient and wait to see our baby when I knew I could really see it.
I surprised myself with how calm I managed to stay as we awaited that first appointment. You can read more about how putting my trust into the Universe guided this sense of peace here.
As soon as we sat down and waited for the ultrasound tech to guide us back, though, my fears began to swallow me. I was weighed. My blood pressure was measured. The technician asked how I felt. I told her I was anxious - in hopes that she'd tell me everything was going to be fine. I knew she couldn't say that - and rightfully so. There was no way of knowing everything was okay - in this moment - until I was in the ultrasound room. I was bombarded with what ifs. What if there was no heartbeat? What if there wasn't even a baby at all? I sat back down next to Adam. My heart was pounding. I felt light headed. The room seemed smaller. I thought I was going to throw up.
Breathe in through your nose. And out through your mouth.
Looking back, I was on the verge of having a major panic attack. Rightfully so.
We were called back. I got undressed. Joannie, our saint of an ultrasound technician walked us through the process. We told her we already knew how it went - this wasn't our first "first ultrasound." I nervously stated we were anxious because we had experienced a loss last October due to Turner's Syndrome.
She began the process. "There is a baby and a heart beat!" She let me know that she would go back to the baby in a moment. First, she would check my ovaries and uterus.
It felt like my soul left my body. With that simple sentence, I was beside myself. There is a baby. The baby has a heartbeat. That was all I needed to hear. We can do this. We can do this very hard thing called "pregnancy after loss." In that moment, all fear had been released and I had surrendered fully to love. Knowing our history, Joannie even reassured us that as of now, the fluid behind the baby's neck looked normal. This woman was without a doubt our angel on Earth.
The ultrasound was over and I got dressed. When I stepped back out, I looked at Adam and he began to sob. The three of us - my husband, myself and Joannie, put our arms around one another and let the tears flow. Joannie began to pray for us. If you know Adam and I personally, you know we are not a praying family. Though I more recently have developed a relationship with the Universe, Adam identifies as atheist. Despite this, we felt nothing but comfort listening to Joannie's prayers for us and our growing baby. Our healthy baby with a heartbeat.
I write this as we are in the midst of a global pandemic. I once again find it easy to go down a rabbit hole of doom - "what if?" followed by "what if?"
I now know, though, that all I can do is control what I can control. At this first appointment, I had no way of knowing that the tiny fetus I saw for the first time one year ago today would grow to be the healthy, happy nugget I've watched play all morning. All I could do was focus on the joy our first ultrasound provided and lean into it. The fear was there. My ego wanted to do nothing but protect me, prepare me for the worst - and it continues to do so. I'm grateful for it - but that does not mean I have to live by it. As Gabrielle Bernstein taught me in her book Super Attractor, I have the power to choose again.
When my ego chooses fear, I look for gratitude. At the top of my list, I will always find "I have my baby. He has a heart beat."