Friday, February 12, 2010

It's the Winter Olympics! Baby!

The Winter Olympics opens this evening, and compared to other Olympics, it seems like there's been comparatively little fanfare about it. (One article I read said that Americans tend to go ga-ga over the Summer Olympics, which I suppose is true.)

Maybe I am feeling that way because Mike, usually a complete OLYMPICS FANATIC, has been very low key about it this year. Perhaps he's still nursing his wounds because I put the kibosh on going. (Every time the Olympics come around, he makes noises about wanting to go...and to me, the crowds, the costs, and the hassles make it less than appealing. Or perhaps it's because the one time he did go was Atlanta '96, when I was 6 months pregnant with Chris, and started bleeding while I was home alone...perhaps one of the precursors to preterm labor.)

And speaking of pregnancies, that is what the Winter Olympics will always bring to mind. Four years ago, we were watching the Olympics every evening until 11 or 11:30 and I kept falling asleep on Mike's shoulder. Those of you know me well will know that I am the night owl in this family, and Mike's usually the one to fall asleep (while we are watching movies). So I thought it was very peculiar.

Without going into great detail about why a pregnancy was not in the cards for us, the most significant were my age (41), the fact I always needed help to get pregnant before, and had four miscarriages between Chris and Kieran. At two children, we were done. Our family was complete. Two on two. I remember feeling wistful occasionally about being done having children, especially because both of us come from families of origin with three children, but the logical side of me said that it is much easier to travel with only two children--and we travel a lot out of necessity and fun.

I honestly did not believe I could possibly be pregnant, but the night-time fatigue made me wonder just a tiny bit. I didn't appear to have any other tell-tale symptoms. I had Mike pick up a pregnancy test, which proved to be inconclusive. (It was a cheap test.) I asked him to buy a more expensive, name brand one--and one evening as we were getting ready for our Olympics viewing, I took the test. I will always remember sitting in the kitchen nook, waiting for Mike to come downstairs after kissing the boys goodnight.

Wordlessly, I showed him the results. "Shock and awe" is the only way to describe our reaction. While Mike was still trying to get his bearings and adjust to the news, I went into overdrive preparation mode (as is my habit): "Where will we put the baby?" "We'll have to get a bigger car, or even a mini-van!" (Note: we still have not purchased a mini-van, but I suspect it is looming in our future.) Poor guy!

We were so shocked by the realization that our lives were going to change completely--Mike had been looking forward to Kieran going to preschool that fall so he could spend more time writing--that we did not even watch the Olympics that night!

After all the infertility we had experienced, combined with all the miscarriages and Christopher's extreme prematurity, we knew that this pregnancy was meant to be. For whatever reason, we were not done. Even though we both consider ourselves pro-choice and strongly support a woman's right to abortion, we also believe that everything happens for a reason, and this baby was choosing us. (Similar to how we felt when we were asked to choose between a radical c-section or vaginal birth with Chris, which meant the difference between possible life, or death. Not really a choice.)

Even though we felt it was meant to be, we still didn't really believe it was going to happen, given all the miscarriages and my "advanced maternal age." When we first told my parents, we were extremely cautious, and said "if the pregnancy goes forward," or something silly like that. Even though we felt somewhat ambivalent about having another child, we also didn't want to get our hopes up.

Well, as you all know, Nicholas was meant to be. And now we can't imagine our lives or our family without him. As I watch the Winter Olympics this month, that evening of shock and awe will be on my minds throughout the next two weeks.

Here's our family 1 month after I discovered I was pregnant, on spring break at Disneyland (I remember feeling disgusted that I couldn't go on the thrill rides, because the last time we were in Disneyland I was pregnant with Kieran, and I had really been looking forward to them!!). When Mike and Chris went on Splash Mountain repeatedly, I was circling the "Winnie the Pooh" ride with Kieran...over and over and over again.

Here we are on the zoo train on the day of our company picnic, about a week before Nicholas was born:

And a few days before the scheduled c-section (Kieran and Nick both had to be born via c-section because Chris' emergency birth had been a radical c-section):

I loved being pregnant. A very small part of me is sad I will never experience that again.(But I don't want more children!! And it's too late for that anyway.)

Grandma reading a story to four of the boys--waiting for Baby Nicholas to be born

Nadine and me before surgery

Mom and me

With my boys...

Nadine and Mike all suited up and ready--Nadine was in the delivery room for Kieran and Nicholas' births--and in addition to having my beloved sister with us, having a doctor observer really put my mind to ease. (She was watching all of the surgery intently and giving reports, while Mike stayed up near my head!) The c-section was kind of stressful, because they had to cut through a lot of scar tissue to get to the baby...and then when he was born, he had some breathing troubles and they had to call in a NICU team to check him out. That freaked Mike out more than me. He wasn't as feisty or big as Kieran when he came out.

Meeting sweet Nicholas for the first time

With the exception of a few very upsetting incidents with the Family Birth Center nurses regarding nursing and bottles, Nicholas was fine. He was just a little peanut at 6 lb, 7 oz (but still huge compared to Chris).
Mike and Nicholas with the best perinatologist (high-risk OB) in the world, Dr. Andy Merrill. He delivered both Kieran and Nick, and one of the best things about getting pregnant again was being able to go see Dr. Merrill again! Love that man.

David and Ryan waiting to meet the baby

Chris in the waiting room, age 10

With Aunty Nadine

With Dr. Merrill, post-op

Brothers holding Nick for the first time

At home, in Grandpa's hands:


First day of school for Kieran several days after birth: my first outing while recovering

A happy cousin Ryan holding Nick:

With his big brother:

Ooh--scary grandpa!

Grandma England visits and meets the baby:


With his fairy godmother Nancie in Seattle, before Christmas (hey--maybe that's why he continues to be obsessed with Santa Claus--that first Santa suit!):

Enjoy the Winter Olympics, baby!

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