Happy Birthday Anna

Of course I believe in love at first sight. Before I was a mom, I couldn’t imagine life with a child. After I became one, I couldn’t imagine life without her. Anna gave me a purpose, made me a stronger woman, and helped me find myself…is helping me find myself. Everything’s a process.

I found out I had endometriosis a month before I got married in 2001. I had laparoscopic surgery (this is how they discover it) September 10, 2001 and was home recovering the next day when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I got married a month later on October 6 and that would be the beginning of over 3 difficult years of trying to get pregnant. It’s funny how some people can so easily get pregnant and others try and try and…nothing. It was stressful, emotional and painful, and as a woman, it was completely self-esteem shattering as I felt like I was “failing” at what I was “designed to do”.

After 6 months of trying on our own enlisted some fertility help and I went on clomid for 6 months. Testing showed I had one ovary producing eggs and it was doing so every other time, so basically I was releasing a fertile egg every 4 months. Clomid increases egg production and is very painful as clusters of eggs are literally weighing down your ovaries. It felt a lot like cramps and caused a lot of bloating. Nothing happened and I went off the drugs. They made me crabby and miserable.

After a break I decided to do another 6 month round. You can imagine our excitement when I found out I was pregnant. Unfortunately clomid forces all eggs ( mature or not) out to be available for fertilization and with no symptoms of morning sickness present, an ultrasound at 6 weeks revealed an egg sack but no baby inside. I was devastated. I had to have surgery again for the miscarriage. I think I came to grips that I wasn’t going to have a baby, but seeing babies everywhere and knowing it wasn’t on my agenda made me want one even more.

Months went by and in September of 2004 I decided to learn cake decorating, as Ace of Cakes on the Food Channel had become somewhat of an addiction of mine. “I could do that!”, I thought, I just needed a little direction. Each month I took a 4 week class and by December I was working with fondant and assembling delicate sugar flowers and butterflies. I was quite happy. I was relaxed. I think it took my mind off things…

New Year’s Eve we had a group of friends over to play board games and watch movies. It had been a year since I last took any fertility drugs. I remember being at the party, eating pistachios out of the shells, and thinking I really felt sort of nauseated. In the morning I discussed with my husband about going back on fertility drugs and we agreed it was time to start trying again. So I made a doctors appointment for the following Monday. The weekend came and I realized my period was barely late, and on top of that the nausea hadn’t gone away either. It was Saturday, and I checked the calendar to see if we could have possibly gotten pregnant at a time I was ovulating. I ran to the store for a pregnancy test. After months of staring at negative tests in the brightest of light, or pulling them out of the trash to recheck them, my jaw hit the floor when both pink lines appeared pretty much as soon as the “hormones” hit that stick! Now I’m not proud of the fact that I started smoking when I was 19, but I’m pretty proud of the fact that that was the day I quit. I couldn’t get a real test from my doctor until Monday and I stepped outside to light a cigarette and thought…don’t do it. So I quit. No chance I was harming this baby if I really had one growing inside me.

Monday the test was confirmed. Positive. I was so excited, and they started me on progesterone shots again, right away to help sustain the pregnancy. They had also done these with the previous pregnancy, and in case you didn’t know, progesterone in a huge amount of oil-based hormone injected with a ginormous needle, right into you hip/butt cheek and it’s very painful. I had these twice a week for the first trimester. At seven weeks I saw her little heart beating like a peanut and I’d never cried so hard with relief in my life!..until the day Anna was born. Fast forward to September 18, 2005, after 36 hours of labor, she came out not breathing. Just as the nurses we’re about to intubate, one of them started smacking Anna on the bottom of her feet saying, “this will get her to breathe, they hate it!” I smiled, sure enough she took her first gulp of air so she could cry. It was beautiful. And she was beautiful and she is.

I know a lot of you comment on my relationship with my daughter, but I can’t help but truly love her. They say you appreciate things more if you have to work for them, wait for them, or if you lose or almost lose them. Well Annabelle Grace was all the above.

I totally hated being pregnant. I gained 50 pounds and saw 172-3/4 on the scale at the hospital. I had various complications during each trimester, each was more difficult than the last. But I’d do it all over again, all of it and more to have my Anna. She’s kind, smart, funny, intuitive, thoughtful, beautiful and I couldn’t have hand-picked traits to create a more wonderful daughter. I know how blessed I am to get to raise her, because I almost didn’t have her at all. It is my privilege to be called Momma, and I’m reminded of that every time I hear her say my name, that I have a calling, and a purpose, and a responsibly to raise her to be the best human being she can be. It has also made me realize more fully that everything works out, and for a reason, and in its due time. Happy birthday AnnaGrace! Thank you for the most amazing transformation I could never have imagined, transforming me into a mom. I love you with my life.