The Pleasures of Life Dept.
Third Time’s the Charm
Writing life into existence
By Cassie Bustamante
We sat at our homemade paver firepit, the flames tickling the late spring sky as our tweens tossed a frisbee nearby and the dog licked any remaining bits of melted marshmallow from the grass. My husband, Chris, looked at me nervously and said, “OK, I’m going to give you what you want.”
“Right now? The kids are right over there,” I giggled, knowing exactly what he meant. After all, we’d been discussing it for months. And by discussing it, I mean I’d continued to badger him relentlessly with no plans to concede.
After our first attempt — not in front of the kids, mind you — two pink lines appeared on our pregnancy test. In awe, I showed Chris the evidence of our success. “We’ve still got it,” I gloated as we exchanged high fives.
Sadly, a week later, that new life slipped away as quickly as it had begun. I’d had two healthy pregnancies in my 20s. A miscarriage had always felt like something that happened to other people — not me.
Over the next year and a half, we continued to try for a third child, with the same outcome each time. Finally, we met with a specialist to get to the root of the problem, and I was put on a new prescription. I left her office confident that the next pregnancy would be ours to keep.
That summer, while my kids volunteered at a local vacation Bible school not far from my favorite bike trail, I pedaled along the dirt path that bordered the canal, listening to a favorite podcast that featured Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, as a guest.
At that moment, if someone had suggested I could find valuable life lessons from a popular cartoonist, I probably would have laughed. But I was a desperate woman on a mission. After listening to his incredible tale of using affirmations to manifest his heart’s desires, I decided to give it a go. At this point, what did I have left to lose?
When those two pink lines teased me yet again, I practiced what I’d learned. In my mind, I pictured myself holding my newborn baby, who’d be due in early April, and imagined how he would feel, warm and snuggly against my chest. I saw Chris standing next to the hospital bed as we basked in the glow of parental love. In my journal, an entire page was filled over and over with the words, “I will hold my baby in April.”
But it wasn’t meant to be. Frustrated by my foolish desire to believe simple affirmations could work maternal magic, I permitted myself to have a major cat-5 emotional meltdown over the cruelty of the universe.
My doctor pointed out there was another route we could take, but I had reached my limit. Mentally exhausted, I made an appointment with her just so that I could thank her and feel at peace with my decision to move on. I threw myself back into creativity and running, activities that had made me who I was before grief had cast its dark shadow.
Not long afterward, during a long run with a close friend, a wave of nausea hit me as we reached the summit of a challenging hill. Assuming I was simply out of shape after taking so much time off, I brushed it off and kept moving. Back at home, I washed the salt of sweat and tears down the drain, allowing my body to cool down, but that queasiness continued.
Ironically, Chris and I hadn’t been “trying” this time around. We’d just found a moment to comfort each other in our heartache and it had led us here — to the earliest stages of pregnancy again. Instead of feeling overcome with joy, I actually feared this was just going to be another baby I’d never get to hold.
As it turned out, my farewell appointment with the specialist happened to already be on the calendar. With Chris by my side, we shared the news and told her we would be going ahead with the next type of treatment — blood thinners — after all. She showed us how to perform my daily injections, wrote me a new prescription and sent us on our way with a due date: May 12, 2018. One day before Mother’s Day.
Nervous weeks turned into hopeful months as my stomach swelled with our growing baby boy. As I lay on the doctor’s table one afternoon in late February, watching my son kicking away on the monitor, she said, “We’re going to have to schedule you to be induced a couple weeks early. Since you’re on blood thinners, we need you to be off them for 24 hours before delivery. Let’s get you down for the end of April.”
I will hold my baby in April.
On April 27, 2018, our family was made complete. Wilder is everything we’d hoped for wrapped up into a feisty, yet adorable, sandy-haired, blue-eyed package that lets him get away with way too much.
As for me, I’m a changed woman, a believer in the power of affirmations after receiving my greatest gift from the universe. And on the days when Wilder challenges me — he’s a Taurus, after all — I come back to this story and give thanks for my stubborn little miracle who was meant to be mine all along. OH
Cassie Bustamante manages O.Henry’s digital content and writes and creates our weekly digital newsletter, O.Hey.