After Stress Test #1 Fail, I decided to go prepared to Test #2: a half-caf loaded with ice, milk, and a ton of enda-Splay. Normally just one of these things (something caf, something cold, something sweet) gets him going but I wasn't taking chances. And the poor kid's heartrate went off like a racehorse and they made me move on my side. But we did pass within 20 minutes, so, um, yay? Oh and also? It was 9 a.m. This is important. So yesterday, Test #3, I tried the middle ground: decaf iced tea with sweetner. On the way down in the car he was gyrating and kicking so much I had to grip the steering wheel and focus. We got there, got settled in the comfy chair, and . . . out. Naptime. 10 a.m. is naptime. It has been historically since I've been feeling movement, and I'm guessing it's because 10 a.m. is usually my most active time of the day and normally not paying attention so he zips out. He wakes up around lunch, and goes pretty much nonstop until I fall asleep. A few kicks and turns in the a.m., and then out for the pre-luncheon siesta. Sadly, every goddamn NST I have scheduled is at 10 a.m. and we can't reschedule unless I'm interested in July.
We are screwed.
Anyway, we failed again (though not as badly, I got him to kick a few times at the end) and were sent to the biophysical u/s where we also sat around and poked and waited until he felt like moving.
Lo and behold, Dr. Hotshit was reading the NST results, and we had a nice little chat in the hallway. She told me even though I didn't likely buy it, what she saw today was passing, normal, fine. We went over his overall movement, how he compares to Bella in the "moves most of the time" department, except more uncomfortable. (Monday night watching basketball half asleep, it felt someone was rearranging my organs ("This would look much better over HERE,") and occasionally giving my lower rib a swift chop. I kept wincing and repeating "Movement is good. Movement is good.") She said schedules were good things, and he's clearly on one as evidenced by last Tuesday. She concluded that this last bit of the pregnancy was going to be the most stressful and was very sympathetic to my angst.
At which point the baby shifted his ass from my right side to my left while kicking a leg up and she saw the whole thing through my t-shirt and said, "See! He's moving now!"
I told Mr. ABF my concern is that subconsciously perhaps I want this child so much that I'm making this shit up. Is that even possible? I feel my rational self is overly -concerned with movement, but maybe the wee voice in my head is telling me everything is fine when it's not? Maybe these are contractions, not movements? (As if that appendage sticking out a good 1.5" from my side the other night was a contraction; and the NST's show absolutely nothing in that department). I guess what I want is a health professional to confirm and validate the extraordinary kick-boxing routine that happens daily.
Fuck the middle ground, big guy: Friday I'm freebasing coffee grounds and popping easter candy in the car on the way down. You're gonna hafta deal.
At a therapy appointment within a month or two of Maddy dying, I remember walking through my progression of rationalization regarding no more kids. I would have another, but I would be bereft if I didn't have a girl. If I had a girl, I don't know what I'd name her, because I felt like the best names were gone. And bam, lightbulb, what I really want is Maddy back, not another baby.
I felt that way for quite some time.
When we finally decided to give this one more go, I was rather torn as to what I wanted. On the one hand, prior to Maddy, I think I always wanted a boy. Stranger boy babies roaming around public spaces used to just jump into my heart and rend it into a thousand shreds; girls never. They did nothing for me. I honestly never encountered a girl baby that made me want to procreate like the boys did. One sweet boy on a jogging path who accidentally turned and called me "Mommy" transformed me into a veritable pile of goo -- I may have flushed my pills upon my return home. I thought both Bella and Maddy were boys prior to birth (they were surprises).
And I thought now a boy would be nice: it would be different, it would signal the difference. This was a completely separate decision, a totally distinct child. There would be no "replacement" bullshit talk. I would never accidentally refer to him as "Maddy."
On the other hand, the second they said "Girl!" after Maddy was born, I knew that's what I wanted all along. It felt so right to have two girls. It felt complete. I now loved girls, I longed to raise them. And for 20 minutes, my family as it was felt absolutely perfect and I couldn't imagine that I had ever thought of any other arrangement.
And to lose that perfect moment and not be able to get it back, or fix it, or recreate it in another form kinda bugs. I had my family, it had two girls. That's what I wanted, again.
So it was with some disappointment that we received the news back shortly after week 12 that the chromosomes proclaimed XY.
I stared into space. I told Mr. ABF. He stared into space. Out loud, we both admitted our disappointment.
A boy. A boy.
It took about a week for me, and then I was fully on board. I would be fine for all the reasons I had already stated, and knew that in fact, it might turn out better this way -- less deja vu, less pressure on us all including him should he live beyond birth. I remembered the jog trail incident and thought I'd be ok if this turned out. I'd be more than ok. Mr. ABF took less time to climb on board, he was fine with it by nightfall.
Bella was another matter.
Bella claims to miss her sister, and this is obviously more the idea of a sister than Maddy exactly, but I concede her point. And whenever she talked of another sibling, she always used a feminine pronoun, despite my telling her that you can't choose what the baby will be, it just happens. (We're saving PGD for another conversation, clearly.) I think in her head she misses what she could do with this mythical, mystical sister that slipped through her fingers: she imagines, I'm sure, sharing clothing and toys, having a playmate who is interested in the exact same things (the rainforest; Wii; climbing trees), and a sibling with whom she would never, ever fight or disagree with because they'd be having way too much fun discussing stuffed animals or The Killers or whatever.
So when I was still a bit vulnerable about the whole boy thing, we told her we were having a baby.
"Another baby sister!" she exclaimed, and her face lit up.
(Gulp.) "A baby brother," I said quietly with a smile. "It's a boy."
And her face collapsed. Her lip trembled, and big fat hot tears began to roll.
And I almost crawled under the table.
It turns out the only little brother with whom she's intimately familiar belongs to her best friend from pre-school. And people, that child is Damien. He is undoubtedly possessed. How a sweet family can consist of two wonderful fun parents and an adorable girl and somehow claim to be related to this devil-child is simply beyond me. Clearly a case for bizarro nature, not nurture, or something.
And Bella began to wail about how horrible this particular little brother was.
I'm not big into hiding my emotions in front of her anymore (see: Me calling another driver an asshole this afternoon) but I seriously bit my tongue and held it together when all I really felt like doing was crying with her. We gently explained that she would be much older than her little brother than her friend was, and ergo the relationship would be much different. He would get away with far less, things that probably bothered her friend wouldn't bother her because she would be mature. Besides, we'd make sure (gulp, again) that he wouldn't behave like that.
"Ok," Bella said sniffling.
And by bathtime, she was on board team Baby B. (B for Brother, that is. And what he's called in our house.)
Once and awhile she pats my stomach and says, "I wish he was a sister," and all I can do is validate that feeling with a carefully pronounced and un-elaborated, "I know."
And she more than counterbalances those moments when she's with someone she hasn't yet informed, and pats my stomach and says to them with a sly smile and a low conspiratorial voice, "I'm getting a baby brother!"
We're to the point now where I'm starting to get worried . . . for her. For my husband. I feel as though I've steeled myself the best I can, and having made it through once, I'll likely find my way out of the rabbit hole again. But them? I realized last night, watching them goof around on the playset swings while I futzed with dinner, that this is what's going to break my heart -- their crushed dreams, not my own. I still can't imagine this boy. I can't pretend excitement I don't have and won't until he crosses my threshold in a carseat and not a box. I can't force myself to hope. I can only be, and hope if it does turn out, that he's not a pincher.