Monday, June 26, 2006

The Voice of the Turtle

My due date was today. But because the apparent cosmic purpose of my years of infertility was to make me forget about clocks, calendars, and stopwatches, let go of the last illusion of control created by the industrial revolution, and bow instead before nature's timescale, I am neither in the hospital, nor in labor, nor anywhere near giving birth.

On the contrary, I am the exhausted, ecstatic mother of a one-month old. Yes, my little trick-or-treater decided to arrive a month early. And, continuing my temporal rehabilitation, the baby has decided to sleep all day and eat all night, so that, although the computer claims it’s 5 PM, I am sitting here with a nice glass of orange juice and a bowl of granola, rubbing the dust from my eyes, while my sleeping baby coos occasionally beside me.

I thought I owed it to you all to let you know how the story starts. I still cannot say what I will make of this blog. I have really really been helped by the process of reading and writing blogs. At the same time, it has taken time from my life and my work that I certainly can’t afford in an industrial sense, and maybe shouldn’t give at all…

But at the very least, I wanted to offer a vision of myself and the baby as we ride off into the sunrise together. We live in an age too cynical for happy endings. But I have to say that this has been an extraordinarily happy beginning.

I was prepared for sleep deprivation, colic, baby blues, post-partum depression. I had primed myself with the understanding that motherhood is not all it's cracked up to be, that the joys of maternity have been gravely exaggerated by right-wing fanatics who want women out of the boardroom and trapped in boredom.

I was utterly unprepared for the sheer primal joy of holding the warm weight of a living child against the gaping, aching hole infertility had carved in my chest. I did not count on the sense of awed wonder of holding close a little body that I created and carried in my own, of leaning down to breath in the golden, baked-hay scent of baby skin, of brushing my cheek against silken baby hair, of gazing into my own baby’s face and loving every pimply, rashy inch of pink skin, of laughing with delight at every fart and burp. A baby is a feast for the senses, a salve for the wounded soul. I did not know that love could feel like this. I’ve been blindsided by joy. And I wish, really, that time could just stop right here.

"For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."

P.S. A bit about my treatment: I never received any medical explanation for my unexplained recurrent miscarriages. This successful pregnancy occurred without treatment of any kind.* Except. When I first began trying to conceive more than three years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disease. I personally believe (and there are European studies to back up this possibility) that under treatment of my thyroid disease with inadequate levels of thyroid hormone replacement could be the explanation for my earlier losses. With this pregnancy I insisted on WEEKLY testing of my thyroid levels through the end of the first trimester (unheard of frequency in endocrinology circles, but Dr. Cookie-Pie, my RE, was at a loss for anything else to do and agreed to humor me) and found I needed to increase my thyroid hormone dose regularly, until I reached a dosage about 1/3 greater than before the pregnancy. (Once my TSH levels seemed to stabilize, I tested once/month for the rest of the pregnancy.) My doctors *do not* believe that this explains the success of this pregnancy. They say vague things like, "your body finally figured it out." But I think that *I* finally figured it out and I want to offer up this shred of a possible explanation to any other recurrent miscarriers who might be able to use it...

*You may recall the use of a little supplementary progesterone, true. But this was the first pregnancy in which there was any indication I might need it. My hormone levels have always been fine; we did it as a precaution this time due to the spotting, which I now think was caused by 1- the rough internal exam I was given on 10/31, before we knew there was a heartbeat and 2- the baby aspirin that I was briefly on initially (on my RE's advice on the off chance that it would help, despite the fact that a hematology consult turned up no evidence of a clotting disorder). In other words the unnecessary aspirin cancels out the unnecessary progesterone, meaning that this pregnancy needed nothing but synthroid.