Monday, October 10, 2005

Hoss I and II

Most expectant parents I know have a name for their baby in utero. When I was a fetus I was called "Oscar"; friends have called their almost-babies Lentil, Appleseed, even Arby (because that's all the mom wanted to eat!). So almost three years ago, when we found out we were expecting, we had a name, too. Mr. Squab had always joked that he wanted to name our first child "Hoss" (yes, as in Bonanza), so as a compromise, we called the pre-baby Hoss. We thought it was kind of funny.

When I went in for my 12 week checkup with Hoss, I had been spotting fairly consistently, so my OB decided to do an ultrasound, just to check on everything. Never having seen an ultrasound before, we had no idea what it was supposed to look like; but the concerned look on our doctor's face communicated everything we needed to know. "I'll need you to get this confirmed at the hospital, but I'm nearly positive that what you have is a molar pregnancy," she said. A what? I'd never even heard of such a thing. Was this some kind of birth defect? Did this make me at risk for a troubled pregancy? No, the doctor explained: a molar pregnancy meant that the egg had been empty of genetic material at fertilization; the body thinks it's pregnant, but there's no viable fetus, just a placental growth. They're very rare, and no one knows exactly what causes them. "I'm so sorry," she said.

We were devastated, of course. It happened so suddenly, so without warning. I was scheduled for a D&C, and we were told that we wouldn't even be able to try to conceive again for up to a year. The worst part was telling all our family and friends. We'd sent out a joyous message only weeks earlier to nearly everyone we knew; now the pity and sympathy, while heartfelt, was almost too much to bear. I tried to tell my parents over the phone and had to hand the phone to Mr. S.; I was crying too hard to talk.

Fortunately, time, as the saying goes, heals all wounds. Slowly, we got our senses of humor back; Mr. S. even joked about what kind of cards people should send in our situation. ("I mean, it's not like Hallmark makes cards like that. I know, you could get a birthday card, only cross out the 'congratulations' and write 'sorry for your loss.'" Mr. S. has what you might call a sick sense of humor.) We started trying again; I tried to stop wincing when friends let us know they were expecting and I couldn't even seem to ovulate on a regular schedule. And then, just when we were beginning to believe that I'd never get knocked up until I quit my job/finished my dissertation/lost weight/went on a month-long spa retreat - lo, and behold: there were two lines on the pregnancy test.

This time, we've been cautious. We've told a few close friends, but we've waited on telling family and colleagues until after my 12 week check up (which happens this Thursday.) With the molar pregancy in my history, I've already had two ultrasounds - and there's a real live fetus in there this time, heartbeat and all. Still, it's hard to trust that this one won't disappear like the last - with no warning, all of a sudden. Every time I spot at all, I'm sure it means I'm miscarrying; every twinge or bout of nausea is cause for overwhelming anxiety - Mr. Squab has his hands full just reassuring me that things will be ok. But slowly, as the weeks progress, I'm beginning to let myself look forward, to imagine having the actual baby, watching him or her grow into toddlerhood and childhood. I try not to hope too much - don't want to jinx it! - but maybe, I think, this time it's for real. Giving this one a name, at any rate, has been easy: true to form, Mr. Squab immediately dubbed it Hoss II - The Quickening.