a long nine months.

i can’t believe lucy will be born in just a few days. the last nine months have been the most joyous, horrific, trying time in my life. i do not even know how i’ve made it…all i can say is that its completely by the power of God that my family and i are surviving like we are.

i remember brian and i having conversations about a second kid. i always said i wanted to wait until jude was at least two to even think about another. but the conversation began and we figured we’d go for it. we wanted the kids to be close in age and we were so used to being in this “little kid” stage of life. within a month i was peeing on a stick and losing my mind that it said “pregnant.”

i think i told my sister within a few days. i had to tell someone and i couldn’t keep that from her for long! of course, she was super excited. she and nick had been considering trying for another within the next few months, so i kept telling her she had to get knocked up asap so our kids would be like a month apart.

then we told brian’s parents. i was so nervous to tell people…excited, but nervous for some reason. they were really excited. i think it was weird for all of us to imagine having another kid in our lives…we were all used to jude!

we told my parents next. we were having a family photo shoot by our favorite photographer, cait wilson. we had given my parents this photo shoot as a gift…my dad was always obsessed with wanting good family pictures because he was so proud of us all. so we were all in the back yard, standing around talking about ideas for pictures. brian said “how about we do one where we all point at gretchen’s belly!” the look on my dad’s face was priceless, i’ll never forget it. and i’m so glad cait was there to capture it all on film.

what happened over the next few months i could never truly describe. i remember september, when it all began. mom and dad had gone to boston to meet with dad’s liver doctor. they called me on the way home…mom left a voicemail and told me to call her. i could tell something wasn’t right. i called both their phones a million times and they didn’t answer. i was worried. i finally talked to mom and she told me that things weren’t looking good. dad’s liver disease had progressed a lot quicker than expected and he would have to be evaluated for a liver transplant within the next few weeks. 
i didn’t know what to think. megan and i went over to mom and dad’s that night to spend some time together. dad was discouraged. he was emotional. he had a positive attitude, but i could tell he was worried too. we got some more details and talked through the bad news. the next step was to wait for the appointment with the liver transplant team in boston. 
the next piece of news in our family was good. megan was pregnant too! due almost exactly a month after me. wow, my dad was so thrilled. mom was too. despite his deteriorating health, dad had a glow about him and we knew it was all because of his grandchildren. 
in september, dad and i decided that given the bad news about his health it was probably good timing for me to quit my job and start working with him. so that’s what i did. dad was beyond excited. it was almost like his dream come true…he would not stop talking about how pumped he was for me to work with him. and i was excited too. my first (and only) day of work with him did not go great. i don’t care to re-live the details, but it ended badly. dad was extremely affected by the liver disease and he was not himself for quite a few weeks before his death. 
the following weekend our family headed to boston for the transplant evaluation. it was a day long event that included meetings with many different professionals: doctors, a surgeon, a nutritionist, etc. many of our family and friends attended the meeting so we could all be informed about the transplant process. that night we ate dinner in the north end, one of dad’s favorite places. he was in heaven! 
that night he went into the hospital because of abdominal pain. he never came out. i think back to that night and it makes me sick. that was his last night out in the world, and none of us would have ever predicted it. 
the next month was horrible. megan and i were doing ok pregnancy wise…there were times when we worried that the stress of our family situation was negatively affecting the babies. but they were strong and healthy. i soon found out that i was having a girl. i called dad in boston and he was excited. he predicted a boy, but was just as excited about lucy. 
i talked to dad at least once a day, usually more. i remember him saying once, “thanks for being so interested.” those first few weeks that he was in the hospital were so hard because dad was not himself. he was angry and impatient. he swore, a lot. and if you knew my dad, you would know how uncharacteristic that was of him. it was really hard for my family, especially my mom. but we all stuck together and i know dad could feel our love. the liver disease affected him so badly, both physically and mentally. it was so hard to watch this happen to my dad, the smartest, most loving person i have ever known. 
the last couple weeks of his life were the hardest, yet the best. we received multiple calls from doctors telling us that it was necessary for us to drop everything and get to boston. it was a roller coaster, to say the least. but my dad became my dad again. he was so sweet and caring…he was the dad i remembered. and that was the biggest blessing imaginable. we watched his body deteriorate, but his mind remained constant. he was on several strong medications and he was still as sharp and witty as ever. we are all so thankful for that. 
i remember walking into his room with mom as we arrived for the last time in boston. his nurse told us that they had been watching “i love lucy”. i thought that was cool. dad was always bragging to his nurses about jude and bella and the two that were soon to come. 
the next few weeks were hard. it didn’t seem fair that this could be happening to me and my family, but especially when i was pregnant. it seemed like a curse and a blessing all at the same time. i wanted dad to meet lucy, and he wanted to meet her. 
around mid january i remember asking my doctor about the chances of being induced on march 22nd, dad’s birthday. i figured it was a long shot, even though it was only a week before my due date. but my doctor totally went for it. she said i had to be 39 weeks, which i will be on march 21st. so as long as everything was looking good, the 22nd was a go. 
dad would be beyond excited at the thought of he and lucy sharing a birthday. he had a mild obsession with birthrates…like, you could literally meet him on the street, tell him your birthday, and he’d remember it forever. so i love the thought that he would so enjoy the date of lucy’s birth…3/22/12. 
i had my final appointment in the doctor’s office last week. she had me all scheduled and ready to go for the 22nd. so now, we wait. hold on, lucy! you aren’t allowed to come out before then. brian keeps asking if i want to go for walks at night, because its been so warm lately, but i say no because i don’t want to kick start labor!
my pregnancy with lucy will never be forgotten, thats for sure. mostly for negative reasons, but there are also some good memories to think on…ones that i will never forget. my last moments with my dad, and the fact that although he never got to meet lucy, he knew her name and he loved her so much. i can’t wait to tell lucy about her grandfather and how blessed she is to share his birthday (hopefully). stay comfy, little lady!

2 thoughts on “a long nine months.

  1. Oh Gretchen. Such a beautiful post. Such a beautiful tribue to your dad – and what a gift to give him…a little granddaughter on his birthday. I love you my friend. You are constantly on my heart and in my prayers. Love, Amy

  2. tanaka_san says:

    Your post touched me very much. Even though I don't have children I also want my father to be able to meet my children when I have them. My dad is going to his 70th birthday and I would like to give him that present aswell. Hope everything goes great and your baby girl Lucy will give you the joy of coming on the 22nd.

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