Just a week after our Angels Foster Family Network classes concluded, Brian found out he finally made Chief Petty Officer after 14 years of service.
It’s an exciting and highly honorable distinction among enlisted sailors, but the time requirements during induction ate up his clock from 4 a.m. sometimes until midnight or later.
Reluctantly, I contacted our caseworker Emma to let her know our home visit would have to be rescheduled hoping there would be some way she could do the 2 to 4 hour visit without him. Of course, she couldn’t but said to contact her once we were ready. We still had just a few basic items to finish in our checklist, including the burdensome floor plan which requires square footage and diagrams of our entire house including outdoor landscaping.
Tedious. But I knew I wasn’t in control. I had to let go and follow the process; no use in fighting it.
During his many hours gone during the day, I busied myself with those foster paperwork chores, cleaned the house over and over, bought a combined carrier and stroller and a hiking backpack for a little one, searched online endlessly for baby furniture (why is it so expensive?) and found a few bedding sets I loved.
I was in full nesting mode.
Aside from all those baby tasks, I picked up a couple clients and got downright busy sun up to sundown and hardly stirred when he would collapse next to me in the wee hours of morning. Suddenly, I was tired every night and passing out before 9 p.m.
As he approached the end of his induction phase, I began to think of scheduling our home visit and finishing off those little red tape chores when one night, hubs made a startling declaration. The next day, he expected me to get an Aunt Flow visit.
Trouble was – I had no indications she would be in town. None. Zero. Zip.
A few days later, he was helping me unpack the groceries when he pulled out turkey lunch meat and a pint of mint chocolate chip gelato.
“What is this?” he asked, comically. “I don’t think I asked for this.”
“I wanted it,” I said. His eyes widened.
“Who are you?” he asked, laughing. “You want a sandwich and ice cream? You’re pregnant.”
But after a four-year struggle with infertility, one doesn’t jump to rash conclusions. In fact, you flat out ignore such things and move on.
In this case, I ignored it for five whole days.
Finally, on my way home from a Padres game with a client, I decided to stop at CVS and face what I’d faced many other tearful times before – a negative pregnancy test.
The clerk double-bagged the kit. I laughed, flashed my wedding ring and said: “It’s cool. I’m not worried.” He laughed and shrugged as if to say: “That’s not the norm in here.”
At 10 o’clock at night, I certainly didn’t expect the test to be positive even if I were preggers. Your hormone levels are quite low.
Shaking my head in disbelief that I was even going through with the exercise, I read the box, unsheathed the test strip and waited … about a second. My eyebrows crinkled. I grabbed the box, looked at the picture, then at the test strip and then back at the picture.
“Plus means positive,” I read out-loud quietly, slowly.
It was the first time I wept with joy holding a test strip.
I crept upstairs with the strip in my hand, touched hubs leg and switched on the light. His eyes barely cracked open. I couldn’t speak, I held the strip in front of his face.
He sat up, grabbed the strip, looked up at me and asked sleepily: “Did you just pee on this?”
“No,” I joked. “I’ve had it for years. Just been hiding it.”
He did the math. I was five weeks and all the signs hit us at once. In fact, I had lots of them beyond the dietary switch ups and fatigue, only how would we know?
The next day, I had a doctor’s appointment which happened to be pregnancy related. Hubs bolted home from work early, his first since induction started, and walked into the doctor’s office just as the results came back from the lab.
She greeted him at the door with a smile: “Congrats dad!”
That day, I called Angels and told the office manager Annika. She eased my strange feeling of survivor’s guilt when she burst into laughter: “So, you’re the couple.”
Apparently, there’s at least one couple a class who gets pregnant just before or right after a first placement. She prefers our situation because pregnancies can be stressful enough without dealing with the rigors of foster parenting. She put us on the respite list for now and told me to focus on having a healthy pregnancy.
At 10 weeks, I met hubs at Liberty Station to meet our certified nurse midwife for our first ultrasound. After all the questions and basic exam stuff, we got down to the moment we dreamed of.
Suddenly, it was there on the screen. It had a head, hands and feet, tiny fingers and toes, a fluttering heartbeat and then just like that, it kicked and jumped.
“It’s a dancer,” I said.
Our midwife giggled and warned: “An indication of the months to come.”
I hope so. I’m enjoying every moment until I meet this miracle baby in April, who forever changed me in immeasurable ways because it wasn’t another obligatory check in the blocks of life. It forced me to really question how deeply I wanted to be a parent and to let go of controlling outcomes.
In our silent weeks since finding out, I’ve had to fib many times to many loving friends and family wanting to know when we’d start fostering.
A few nights ago, hubs and I celebrated our last day of the first trimester. He made a confession: “At first, I thought about Angels and felt bad. Then, I felt relief that we didn’t have to go through all that garbage right now.”
But we did go through “all that garbage.” It was just different than we expected and every new opportunity presented new challenges.
We didn’t choose our baby, like a luxury item we thought we deserved, it chose us when the time was right. It’s the pregnancy of none expected ever.
Perhaps, it’s the future older sibling of foster or adopted children. Maybe it will have other biological siblings, maybe not.
I’ve learned it’s best to leave the future alone. You’ll never figure it out, anyway.