What do I say to that? How do I explain to these familiar faces but complete strangers that I have other children who I cannot raise? How do I explain that I have 4 beautiful angels in Heaven that I got to carry inside of me but never got to bring home with us? How do I explain that I held our lifeless daughter in my arms for only 5 hours before we buried her? How do I explain that this wasn't a spontaneous pregnancy and I don't get to have a normal pregnancy where I complain about every little ache and pain but have the ability to be naive that "everything will be alright" because I haven't had a reason to believe it won't be? How do I explain this baby wasn't created by me but is being grown by me to become me and my husbands child?
These questions swirl through my brain every time I hear that question. Sometimes I don't feel like explaining it. Sometimes I don't want to have to "yes" and then walk away with a God awful feeling in my gut that I'm not only lying to them but I am lying to myself. It's a dilemma that I am starting to face Every.Single.Day.
So sometimes I reply "this isn't my first pregnancy." Sometimes people get it just by keeping my response simple, yet complicated. Then other times I get asked "how many times have you been pregnant?" and I respond "this is my fifth" to which the response then is "you have that many children?" The only way to respond to the last question is by saying "I have no living children." Thankfully, the continued question and answer session hasn't happened more than once or twice. And when it did happen, I finally told the nurse "I really hate that question" and she understood completely why.
The reality is this baby is not my first. I became a mother in September 2007 when I got pregnant for the first time. I became a childless mother when Riley was born an angel on March 1, 2008. And I've remained a childless mother through three additional pregnancies. I am not a "mommy-to-be" because I am currently pregnant and have no other living children. I am already a mother. I just don't get to hear anyone calling me "mommy" yet and needing me to kiss bruises and read them bedtime stories or help with homework. But my job as the mother that I became on March 1, 2008 is much harder than any of that. My job is to keep my baby girl's memory alive and spread messages of hope and healing and understanding to other mother's who were placed in this role too.
I am forever thankful that I have been given another opportunity to be called "mommy." A better opportunity. One that wasn't looking likely if we continued to use my own eggs. There is no doubt in my mind that I already am this baby's mother. And there is no doubt in my sister's mind that she is the aunt, not the mother, despite the baby having half it's chromosomes from her. And there is absolutely no doubt in my husbands mind that this baby is ours and no one elses.
We were blessed today with an ultrasound that showed Baby M is three days ahead of its due date! We were blessed to be able to share that moment with my sister and niece today at the doctors office. We are blessed that Baby M's heart is still beating strong at 156 beats per minute. I am blessed that I have started feeling little fluttery movements and sometimes a good kick within the past couple of days. Today, I count my blessings and cherish the news that me and Baby M are so far "normal."
Our next ultrasound will be February 19th and is a big one. It's the anatomy scan. But just as we told the sonographer today, we will not be finding out the gender at that ultrasound either. For the first time, the gender doesn't seem that important to me. I just want to know if the brain and the heart and the essential organs all look healthy. I have no strong desire one way or another for a boy or girl. I just want a baby. We will eventually find out the gender towards the end of the second trimester so we can prepare better, but for right now...I am also protecting our wallet and hearts from breaking. I know once we find out the gender I will be on a mommy shopping spree buying all sorts of cute outfits and I did that once already and had to return everything I had brought when two weeks later our daughter was stillborn. I won't do that to us again. So I will wait patiently until we are closer to a "safe zone" (if there really is such thing) where if something goes wrong the chances are higher for being able to save the baby. Until our next ultrasound, I will enjoy playing with my sister-in-laws at home doppler that she is letting me borrow!