Becoming a Branch

It is currently 2:50am and, thanks to pregnancy insomnia, I am lying in bed, writing this on my phone while unable to sleep. My mind seems to be getting the best of me tonight, as it has been doing most nights lately. Like most people, I am lying awake thinking about all the things I need to do before Christmas – I have yet to wrap a single present and, thanks to being gifted a nasty cold right as school ended for the semester, somehow my house still looks like a mess. However, this year I have this extra layer of thoughts muddling my mind. I am going to do my best to explain, though I’m not sure I’m going to be very successful. There’s probably a 50% chance I’m going to read this in the morning before posting, and delete it before I get half way through editing. 

Somehow Christmas is already around the corner. I know it’s the most cliche question ever – but truly, where has the time gone? I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this holiday. 

Christmastime is, by far, my favorite. I love the lights, the smells, the cheesy Hallmark movies. I love cold days and snow, and shopping for other people – trying to find the perfect present is not something I find stressful in the least. I love seeing the decorations up way too early in the stores and the switch from pumpkin spice to peppermint everything. Honestly, what’s not to love? 

Well, I’ll tell you – Christmas Day. Somehow I can love an entire season, and hate the actual day. Hate is a strong word. Perhaps, “dread” is more accurate. 

Christmas is, as it should be, “about the kids”. I am not arguing this, because I wouldn’t change it if I could. However, there is a pain that I cannot even begin to describe when year after year, you are forced to watch children that are not your own, walk down the stairs with their sleepy eyes and bed hair, and experience the magic of Christmas. 

Justin and I have traditions of celebrating Christmas with both sides of the family each year – something that we will always do. And don’t get me wrong, I love my nieces and nephews as if they’re my own. But when it comes down to it – Christmas has become a very painful reminder that they are not my own. 

I love watching them open the presents that I very carefully picked out for them – hoping that it will be “just what they always wanted.” But every year I also find myself sneaking off to the bathroom to silently sob and collect myself, unbeknownst to everyone else in the room except my husband, as I crave something that it seems I will never have. Then I return, as if everything is normal. Justin always asks, sometimes with his words and sometimes with his eyes if I am okay, and we go about the day. The presents are just one part of the complicated puzzle. There is so much tied to that day that revolves around kids and family. 

Family – there’s a word that has always felt strange on my tongue. We are part of two really incredible large family structures, but, as the years went by, never having our own subset has always left me feeling like we were just a couple of stray leaves on the family tree, rather than a branch. 

I say all of this to emphasize that this year feels different and strange. It seems we are finally becoming a branch. Even as I type this, little Jude is moving around in my belly – wide awake at now 3:35am, which I am sure will be the norm for many, many months to come. 

He will be here in less than three months. We are a mere 81 days from his due date, and we know he’ll be here before that, either by his own choice or scheduled induction. My doctor very sweetly put it – you will certainly be holding him on your due date. 

The nursery is basically finished, and if we were to bring him home tomorrow, we have enough necessities that we would be just fine. Even though we have been prepping for several months now, I feel like I am just now starting to let my heart picture this future that includes an actual baby. But even now, finally in my third trimester, I am still terrified of losing him, like we did his twin so suddenly. I have read and researched every risk to which I am predisposed. I am scared to death to let myself fully, and without apprehension, embrace this future that is right around the corner. 

Maybe all his squirming around right now is his way of reassuring me that everything will be okay. For him, I want to escape this weird limbo year and enjoy Christmas Day. Instead of being reminded of what we have been lacking, finally start planning the traditions I want to have with my own little family – my branch. 

I am still part of a few infertility support groups online, and upon reading the words and posts of others, I know I am not alone in these feelings. So, if you’re reading this and feeling more like a leaf than a branch, I am sending you the biggest hug. Just remember that, even though it may not feel like it this week, leaves are a beautiful part of the tree. 

As far as updates go, I have little to share. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is excellent news. In addition to our regular and routine appointments with our OB, we started regular appointments and ultrasounds with our high risk doctor a few weeks ago. According to both doctors, every scan has been totally normal and Jude is measuring right on track. He could not be more perfect. 

I go in for more blood work tomorrow to see if the iron infusions and pills have made any difference in my levels. Fingers crossed. 

We’ve officially made it to the home stretch, so our appointments are becoming more frequent. Our next appointments are January 4th with our high risk and 6th with our OB. I love every single one, and will never tire of seeing his sweet little chubby-cheeked face and hearing his heartbeat – and best of all, hearing the reassuring words from our doctors that everything is, in fact, still okay. 

It is now 4:10am. Since I am writing this on my phone, I have no idea how long this post is, or if it sounds like a rambling mess. If you’re reading this, I guess it made the morning edit cut. 

I want to end with a heartfelt Merry Christmas/Happiest of Holidays to all my readers, leaves and branches alike- whatever and however you choose to celebrate. May you find peace and relaxation amidst the chaos, and may you find your own reason for happiness and celebration. 

(twelve. twenty. twenty-two)

(Morning editing Stephanie here, and as I suspected, this post is much longer than I usually try to make them. It reads like one of those rawly honest middle of the night conversations. So, if you stuck with me and read the whole thing – thank you!) 

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