I am not good at keeping my secrets. Anyone who has received a Christmas present from me is probably aware of this fact. Maybe you want to know and maybe you don’t, but either way I AM going to tell you what I got for you before you get a chance to see for yourself. Please forgive me… I just get too excited! Recognizing my proclivity to divulge my own secrets, I am really impressed that I have kept this one so well. Every day I’ve felt compelled to let it out, but I’ve resisted. Grappling with this compulsion hasn’t been easy, but I keep reminding myself that it’s not exactly my secret to tell. Noble, isn’t it? Alright, maybe noble isn’t the right word since I only did what I was supposed to do with a secret… I kept it. Not to mention I haven’t exactly been 100% tight-lipped. To help prevent myself from spilling the beans, I’ve busied myself with creatively hiding them in this blog.
Since it’s time to let the secret out, I can tell you that it’s hidden in this post and in the four posts before it. In each case, you can connect the first letter of every sentence in the opening paragraph, and there it is! For anyone who hasn’t guessed it already and those of you who want to confirm your suspicions, I will give you a moment to backtrack to the introductory eleven sentences of this post. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Dylan…
Finally, after fourteen weeks of waiting, the secret is out. I am pregnant! Or, as the say in Italian, sono incinta! (This translation is what I used to hide the exciting news in post #10.) Now you can see why this would be such a difficult secret to keep. This blog is about the goings on in our lives overseas and this has been a really big part of it all! The doctors visit to confirm the pregnancy and hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, and the panic and excitement that come with such life-altering news and have dominated our dinner conversations for months! It’s going to take a long post to do so, but it’s time to fill in the gaps. Let’s start by rewinding to when I first found out about the secret growing in my belly…
As you may have guessed from this blog’s web address, I love gelato. Even before I tasted the Italian specialty, I knew I would love it. That’s because I was raised on its American equivalent. Mint patty, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, double fudge brownie, purple cow… my love of ice cream has been known to have no bounds. No flavor too chocolaty, too fruity, or in any other way undesirable to my appetite. Any time of day, any season of the year, no ice cream was safe. Even a brief stint with lactose intolerance couldn’t keep me away from it. Enduring the symptoms of dairy intolerance was more appealing than the alternative of eliminating the daily dose or two of ice cream from my diet. Thankfully, my symptoms abated soon after my devastating diagnosis. I like to say that I battled the disease into submission with extra servings of the lactose-laden dessert. What? It’s not a completely ridiculous hypothesis. People who are allergic to dogs often find that getting one reverses their allergies. Couldn’t excessive consumption of a dairy based product have the same effect on a person with a dairy allergy? Whatever the case, I’m cured. And thank goodness for that because I couldn’t imagine a life without ice cream.
Given my history of ice cream divulgence, you can understand my surprise when I woke up one morning and my insatiable craving for it had suddenly and completely disappeared. I noticed it all one afternoon after lunch. Out of habit, I strolled over to the refrigerator, opened the freezer door and pulled out a carton of Edy’s soft-churned espresso chip. I mindlessly scooped myself a bowlful and sat down to tackle the day’s Jumble. I was snapped out of my word-puzzle coma when I noticed my lip quivering. I was holding a spoonful of ice cream, and I couldn’t eat it. That’s not to say I didn’t try. I did, but I reacted the same way that Dylan dog does when he tries to eat an orange slice. My mouth puckered, I forced it into my mouth, and then I spit it back out. My eyes widened in fear. I hurried over to a stash of M&M’s and tried those. Same phenomenon; I couldn’t eat them. What is happening to me?!! Is this some sort of sick joke? Did I reach my lifetime quota of dessert consumption in only 26 years or did my sweet tooth fall out over night?
By the end of the week, I had dismissed my strange aversion to all things sweet. I’d started experiencing some abdominal discomforts and attributed my lack of cravings to a weird stomach bug. But then it was time for dessert one evening, a week before my flight was scheduled for Italy and a week after Kevin had left. I was back at home getting ready to leave for the season, and my mother was taking ice cream orders behind the countertop island. When I declined the offer, she looked up with an expression of disbelief. I explained that I was over ice cream. I’d apparently eaten too much this summer. As my sister passed behind me on her way out of the kitchen, she mumbled, “you’re probably pregnant”. We both laughed, but as she rounded the corner my laughter halted. My mom stopped what she was doing and looked up quickly as moms do when they hear the word “pregnant” around their daughters. I diverted her attention with some comment about the impressiveness of her super-human selective hearing abilities, especially in someone who needs the TV at deafening volume to hear it.
But then my mind started swirling. Pregnant? Could it be? Over the previous year, my doctor had mentioned a few potential baby-making complications. She’d suggested it might be more difficult to start a family, and I had accepted that possibility. Afterall, we had plenty of time. And, like my sister once told me “difficult is not impossible”. Wise words from a young lady only a year removed from her teens.
To appease my curiosity, I purchased a test, or five to be exact. Doing so seemed counterintuitive. Given my recent problems and the nature of my present symptoms (pregnant people crave sweets, not avoid them, don’t they?), I had no reason to suspect a positive result. But, I was about to head to Italy, and I figured I should rule out the possibility of being pregnant before I resumed drinking wine on a nightly basis.
And there it was, a blue line. Or was it a line? My heart started racing. Was I seeing things? Did I imagine that faded sorry-excuse for a line into existence, or was it actually there? This test was supposed to be easy… blue line, positive, no line, negative. To say that there is a significant difference between the two outcomes is an understatement. Shouldn’t the presence of the line be as clear as the result is life-changing. If I were pregnant, shouldn’t the damn stick start lighting up like it were the 4th of July!
Disappointed that I still didn’t have an answer, I looked at the mathematics of my problem. A false positive, if that’s what this shadow of a line was, would be highly improbable. If a second test were to yield the same arguably inconclusive result, it might actually mean I’m pregnant after all. This goes back to basic probability… the probability of a highly improbable event occurring twice is exponentially more highly improbable than it occurring once. Sure enough, a second test matched the first. And, several tests in the days that followed confirmed the result as well. Each day, the result becoming more clear, though never quite lighting up in the way that I was inside. It was time to get to Italy and share the excitement with my other half.
Since arriving, and celebrating the news with Kevin for the first time on the same continent, a large portion of my time has been spent learning the complex medical processes in Italy. Getting a health care card (I’m insured under the national program since Kevin is employed here), finding a family doctor and obstetrician, scheduling appointments, and going to appointments with a friend of the team that can translate for me. (As much as my Italian has improved, medical lingo is well beyond my vocabulary in any language!) I’m fortunate that two other girls from the team are pregnant as well, and they have been very useful resources and comrades in learning the ropes of pregnancy in a foreign country.
As much time as we’ve spent taking care the logistics of this blessing, we’ve spent even more enjoying the reality of it all. And, over the last couple months… it has certainly become more and more of a reality. Thinking back to the first time we saw the little fella, I laugh at just how unreal it seemed. We were visiting the team doctor so that Kevin could get a prescription. Having known about our news, he asked “you want to see your baby?” We were surprised by the offer because, though he is an ultrasound technician, his specialty is in muscular diagnoses. He beckoned us in the back to his equipment. A few minutes later and there it was. A little peanut on the screen. The only characteristic that distinguished this little peanut as human was the heartbeat flickering inside. I was overwhelmingly excited by the sight and simultaneously terrified by my new responsibility! Somehow, it was the best feeling in the world.
Last week, we returned to the team doctor to check up on the baby. It had been six weeks since the first time we saw its tadpole-sized self, and we knew that Kevin would be unable to attend the upcoming ultrasounds with my obstetrician because of his schedule. We are incredibly lucky that the doctor, a father of three, understands our enthusiasm and accepts cookies as payment. This time, the baby looked like a baby. And not only could we see the flickering heartbeat, but we could hear it too! The doctor explained that this is a great time to look at the ultrasound because the baby still has lots of room to move around. And, he (or she) was taking full advantage of the space… stretching, turning, kicking. We saw ten little fingers and ten little toes as the acrobatic baby danced about. It was amazing to see that such a little being is capable of so much motion. Especially because I can’t feel a thing, and won’t be able to for about a month more!
And so, after quite possibly the longest post in my blogging history, I’ve shared our secret. And in case pictures speak louder than words, I’ll end with this…
p.s. I still have not recovered my love of sweets. I’ve had gelato and eaten a few pastries… but I’m still waiting for my usual cravings to return. I’d be really surprised if I made it through the Holiday season without an unsatiable hunger for apple pie and Christmas cookies!