The idea of Emelia (much like her brother) took up residence in my heart and mind long before she'd taken up residence in my belly.
I'd spent the first two and half years after my heart attack trying to ignore this. We'd had enough conversations with enough cardiologists who knew pretty much nothing about SCAD to understand that nobody had any idea of what could/would actually happen should we decide to get pregnant again. In my earlier years of survival, there weren't studies and virtual registries and SCAD Survivor Facebook Pages & chat forums - there were autopsies and sad widowers, motherless families and an intense medical conundrum. It was only my kind OBGYN who advised us not to make any permanent decisions - after all, Brian and I were 31 and 29 respectively, in the summer of 2011.
And so, we enjoyed our little family and watched our little boy grow from a baby to a toddler to a boy, soaking it all in because it really does pass in the blink of an eye. We scoured the internet, and met with professionals and talked to friends trying to figure out what the next step would be. We decided that fostering to adopt seemed like the way ahead and so we spend the majority of 2013 preparing our home and reshaping our lives to welcome another child. Our first and only foster children arrived in late August 2013. You can revisit that here.
On a warm fall afternoon in September 2013, a co-worker and I met for our weekly walking meeting in Tower Grove Park. The leaves were obviously thinking about falling but summer was hanging on for dear life. We ran through our agenda, giving updates and making plans, before checking out with a personal update. I had to chuckle when she asked for chocolate because she knew I ALWAYS had some on me during "that time of the month"- which, after years of working together, was the same time for many of us in the same office.
Except that, as I scanned my calendar, I realized I was three days late.
And it would be another three days and a small fortune spent at the drugstore before my body confirmed I wasn't pregnant. But, in that six days, I guess you could say the damage was done. The idea of Emelia had drifted beyond my heart and mind - I could see her in Brian's face and Cameron's face and in my own reflection. She had taken up residence in my voice every time I deflected questions about our family planning. She had started twinkling in my eyes (again much like her brother). I mulled over the best way to tell my sweet husband I wanted to reopen the can of worms before I realized that no grand announcement was actually needed - though exasperated (and often referring to life with me as "riding on the crazy train"), he already sensed I needed to figure this out.
We spoke with my regular doctor, my highly revered cardiologist and my trusted OBGYN - who all listened to us, advised us of an "unknown" level of risk and agreed to support any decision we made. Trusted OBGYN referred us to a much sought-after high risk Perinatalogist who could *easily* juggle the torches of my second pregnancy. It would take another three months for this doctor to review my medical history, draw vials and vials of blood for testing and tell us, quite bluntly, that we had the green light from him to get pregnant.
Brian and I were supposed to go back to work that day. Instead, we sat on the floor of our family room, eyes glazed over, trying to comprehend the tsunami of change headed in our direction. After years of hearing enough "I don't knows" which sort of really means "no", hearing a "yes, and..." was breathtaking. Shocking. Time-stopping. We had information. We had a plan for treatment. We a team of doctor ready to support our decision. The shock of it all is that there was no need to jump into the unknown. We merely had to take each other's hands and step forward together.
It would take another nine months (complete with wacky pregnancy apps and a bittersweet miscarriage) for Emelia to find her way from twinkling in my eye to taking root in my belly.
Joseph B. Wirthlin