On January 2, 2019- I had day surgery to remove the three fibroids found within my uterus. The following month, February 2019, the specialist gave us the “all clear” to began trying to conceive. Nothing happened and so six months later, I was referred to Fort Worth Fertility Clinic. They did all the necessary test. The final result: my thyroid was a tad sluggish (measuring 2.10 instead of 2.0). At 38 years old, I was considered advanced maternal age. My odds of conceiving on my own each month were less than 3%. However, I still had eggs and was regularly ovulating, so they started me on Thyroid medication and recommended an IUI.
An Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of an IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. The planned date was January 20th, 2020. However, the day of the IUI, Jason felt uncomfortable. He explained it this way, “It feels like we are trying to force this to happen, when it doesn’t want to happen. If we didn’t have Jocelyn, I’d say let’s do it. However, this just doesn’t feel right.” I was disappointed, but realized that I needed to respect my husbands’ wishes. If I pushed him, and pregnancy resulted when he wasn’t ready, he could possibly resent me or the the child. So that day, I choose my husband over my desire for another child. (I’m so glad I did.) We cancelled the IUI, baby danced, and let nature take it’s course. I was still hopeful.
Two weeks later, on February 5th, my period arrived. I was utterly defeated. February 2020, marked a year of unsucessfully trying to conceive. I was now a few weeks away from my 39th birthday. By text book definition, I was considered infertile. On February 5th, 2020 I finally let go of all hope of ever having another child. Emotionally exhausted, I posted this on Instagram: ” I cannot explain the sheer pain and longing I feel when I hear about a new pregnancy. It’s torture. I constanly wonder, when will it hapen for us? When will we recieve our blessing? I feel as if I have failed as a woman, and I’ve failed at giving Jocelyn a sibling. And I hurt. Every day hurts. Now in 2020, I find myself emotionally drained, hopeless, and finally accepting the possible death of my dreams. I guess I’m grieving. When are we going to have more children? Most likely never. I’ll have to find a way to be ok with it. Proverbs 13:12 says “expectation post poned makes the heart sick.” Perhaps, we have already recieved our blessing. We have ONE beautiful child whom we can shower with love and attention. ONE beautiful blessing from Jehovah, and that will have to be enough.”
Privately, I cried my soul out, then I made the decision to just be happy. We have a happy life, a happy marriage, and wonderful daughter. It was enough. I had my favorite Starbucks Chai Tea Latte after 1 year of no caffeine when trying to conceive. I ate cheesecake after not having dairy for a year on Whole 30. Spring Break was coming, and so I happily began to plan our trip to San Diego. When posting on Instagram, I started including the hashtag #onlychild and even planned blog posts about the benefits of having an only child.
Then, as many of you all know, COVID19 (Coronavirus) exploded in Italy. Cases began to popping up in New York, Washington, and California-the state we were visiting for Spring Break. I tried to remain calm. I got busy packing what we needed to be safe on the flight to San Diego. We were the travelers who wore masks on the air plane, disinfected our seats, and washed our hands till they were red. The stress of traveling during this difficult time caused my period to be a few days late, so I thought. I didn’t given it much thought as I packed my box of feminine pads.
San Diego had no cases of Coronavirus and so we tried our best to enjoy ourselves. We visited the San Diego Zoo, played on the beach, and visited Balboa Park. In the evenings, I felt sick to my stomach and nauseated while watching the news. We drove up to see our friends in Simi Valley for a few days. It was so encouraging to be with them during this stressful time. At one point in time, we were worried that our flight back to Texas would be cancelled. At the last minute, we were cleared to fly. Right before packing our luggage to fly home, I came across my box of feminine pads. It hit me suddenly. My period was now 10 days late. Holy crow!! I needed to get a grip and stop stressing myself out. I confided in my friend Sally. Sally got all giddy. “Maybe you’re pregnant?” she said excitedly. I gave it some thought, but then I dismissed the idea. “Nah,” I was not going to go down that rabbit hole. This was no time to be thinking about having a baby.
By the time we arrived back in Fort Worth, it felt like a bad movie. Stores were closing, schools shut down, people were hoarding toilet paper, the stock market was about to crash. I was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep! And so I did. I began sleeping longer and longer each day. I felt nauseated here and there, and even vomited one morning when they announced Italy’s daily death toll had topped China’s. That’s the day I stopped watching the news. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Instead, each evening Jocelyn and I would walk to the park- me running while she rode her bike. It was during one run, that my breasts began to hurt badly. Each step was tender and tingly, just like when I was pregnant with Jocelyn and the twins.
Nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, breast tenderness and now a 3 week late period- could it really be? I felt like a “hot mess”, fighting hope and horror all in the same moment. I was hopeful that I could be pregnant, but horrified that it would be happening now, during a world wide pandemic. I wanted to talk to Jason, but he was busier than ever with congregational responsibilities and work. That poor man was in 1-2 hour Zoom meetings several times a day! So I decided to wait, and let myself wrap my brain around the idea of being pregnant. I waited another week, keeping track of my symptoms.
Finally, on Wednesday, March 25th, I decided to take a home pregnancy test. The two little lines appeared immediately, meaning “YES.” I was in disbelief. After, I calmed down, I called my doctor who scheduled a blood pregnancy test. I finally got up the courage to mention something to Jason. He had been making jokes about all the “Coronavirus Babies” that will be born this fall due to home quarantine. I told him, “You’d better be careful. We may end up with a Coronavirus baby too.” He gave me a puzzled look, and that’s when I explained that my period was late. Very late. Jason just looked at me, silent, and nodded his head. He was playing it cool- showing no emotion, happy or sad. Both of us were afraid to be hopeful. At 2pm, I left my house for the first time in weeks to have blood work done at my local lab.
On Thursday, March 26th, Fort Worth Fertility Clinic had recieved my lab work. The nurse called me early in the morning. “Mrs. Gilmore, you have significant amounts of HCG in your blood, showing you are definitely pregnant. We want to you to come in tomorrow. Is 2:00pm okay?” “Yes”, I said, and then hung up the phone. I was momentarily happy, but then I began to play devil’s advocate. “Okay, Jennifer,” I said to myself, “SO WHAT if you are pregnant. It’s still early. You could miscarry the baby. You just had a birthday, you’re 39 years old now. Maybe it’s an ectopic pregnancy. Maybe it’s like last time. You’ll visit for an ultrasound, and the baby will not have a heartbeat. It will be another missed miscarriage.” Within 24 hours, I had squashed all hope in preparation for the appointment. I poured out my heart to two of my girlfriends via phone. They kept me calm, and told me not to worry, but I did anyway.
Friday, March 27th, 2020 arrived. I got dressed and drove myself to Fort Worth Fertility Clinic. Jason could not go with me to the appointment. Due to COVID19, the clinic said I had to come alone. So I put on a brave face. I decided that if it was another missed miscarriage then I didn’t want a D&C. Maybe they could give me meds and I could miscarry at home. With Coronavirus spreading quickly, I feared being admitted to the hospital and catching it. I would rather go home and be with my family.
It’s the first thing I told Dr. Patel when I saw him. He listened patiently and smiled. “Why don’t we just have a look, okay?” he said gently. I nodded, lay down, and he began the ultrasound. Instantly, there on the jumbo screen, was a little peanut with a flashing center, accompanied by the sound of a galloping heartbeat. “Ooooohhhhhhh!” I remember saying, “there’s a baby in there!” Dr. Patel laughed. “Is it just one this time?” He looked all around with the doppler. No other peanuts appeared. “Just one. Perfect,” I sighed. He chuckled some more, and then asked if I wanted to take pictures. “Yes, but my phone is across the room.” Dr. Patel gave it to me and I snapped this photo of our little peanut, measuring perfectly at 7 weeks, 3 days. Due November 2020. “Get dressed. Let’s talk. I’ll wait for you outside,” he explained.
When I dressed and exited the exam room, there stood Dr. Patel and the rest of his staff, clapping and cheering outside the door. “Congratulations!” they all shouted, “You got pregnant on your own! We are so happy for you.” I melted into happy tears. Dr. Patel and I ‘air hugged’ due to social distancing. When the pandemic has passed, I will hug him for real. Mostly likely, it was my sluggish thyroid that had kept me from conceiving. I am so thankful Dr. Patel discovered it. I will continue taking the thyroid medication throughout the pregnancy.
I left the clinic and went to buy Jason a greeting card. On the front, it read: “You might want to sit down for this.” Inside the card, I wrote, “Holy Crap we’re pregnant. The good news is that there is only one. I Love you! Your Shocked Wife, Jennifer.” I carefully placed the sonogram pictures inside the card and sealed it up. When I arrived home, I had to wait several hours to talk to Jason. He had two more Zoom meetings and photos to edit. The deadline was that night, and he had to get it done. After dinner, when his belly was full and he was more relaxed, I quietly laid the card in Jason’s hands. I knew he would want a minute to process the news alone. So I tiptoed away to put Jocelyn to bed. When I came back he gave me a shy grin.
“So there’s baby in there,” he said quietly.
“Yes. I’m 7 weeks along.”
“Congratulations,” he smirked. I rolled my eyes.
“There better be a boy in there. I’m tired of being the only guy in this house,” he said, tapping my belly. Then he gave me a real smile and a huge hug. We stayed up till midnight pouring our hearts out to one another. “I am so afraid,” I told Jason. “What is there to worry about?” he asked. “A World pandemic, social distancing, slow work, a struggling economy- of course we’d end up pregnant now! Babies come when they’re least expected. Everything will be okay. You will see.” My husband can be quite sarcastic, but his nonchalant manner is exactly what I need to keep me calm. We both agreed to take things one day at a time, and just be happy.
Jason left the card and the sonogram photos on his desk. The next day, Jocelyn found them when she went looking for a pen.”What’s this?” she asked. “Is there a baby in your tummy?” I tried dodging the question, but Jocelyn was persistent. Jason and I talked it over. We decided that she deserved to know, especially with my morning so sickness becoming more evident. The next afternoon we sat down as a family and told Jocelyn about the baby. She was thrilled!
I’m now 9 and a half weeks pregnant. The morning sickness is full blown and a tiny bump is slowly appearing. I visit Fort Worth Fertility clinic for weekly monitoring. With each sonogram, I’ve gotten to see our peanut turn into a jelly bean, with wiggling arms and legs. During each visit, I hold my breath in fear, praying that our baby will be alive and well. Due to social distancing, we are physically isolated, but not emotionally. We realize that for better or worse, we need our family and friends during this time. We don’t want to go thru this alone. So after the third sonogram, we decided to share news of Baby Number 2 with our family and friends following the Memorial of Christ’s Death. It’s the most important time of year- a time for joy and thanksgiving. We’re thankful for our family and friends, our health, our home, and now the coming of this little blessing! Please keep us in your prayers. Here’s to a healthy pregnancy, a healthy birth, and most of all- a healthy baby.