June came and my brother got engaged. I was so happy for him and plans were made for his fiance to come meet the family. Around this time is when I found my lump. I had a trip to a good friend's wedding and their visit coming, so I put off having it checked (as well documented on this sight, it worked out). By the time my brother and his fiance showed up in July I was anxious to meet her. After meeting her, we knew he had found the missing piece to our family. She understood him fully, called him out on the same things we did as a family and had a wicked sense of humor. To top it off, she was a sports fan. Although her taste in football teams leaves much to be desired, we were willing to over look it as she makes a great addition to our family.
Then came August 8, 2012 and my brother and his fiance despite living far away were part of my key support system. And while I was undergoing all of my own treatment, little did our family know what they two of them were going through. The focus was on me. In the Spring of 2012 my brother's fiance started doing hormonal treatments to see if they could help increase her fertility. She was already 40 by this time and with a history of endometriosis. By the time I finished treatment in February 2013 the multiple rounds of hormonal therapies hadn't worked. Then came directed sperm and other unglamorous procedures. All were unsuccessful and the emotional toll was piling up for both my brother and his fiance. Their desire to have a child was palpable.
Then there was the pressure. My parents have always said "If it happens, we'd love to be grandparents, but if not we're ok.". We've always known that they were liars. I've had chemo. I take tamoxifen everyday. I get vaccinations that are teratogenic. This all boils down to one undeniable truth: I can't have children. Knowing this, the perceived family pressure seems to mount.
More treatments, injections and ungodly medications for my brother's fiance through Spring and Summer 2013. After the decision was made to do IVF, fertilize the egg outside the body and then do implantation. After months of more hormones and injections, all through the fall, led up to very dramatic weeks in December. The egg harvest. They start with the retrieval; 18 eggs. Then comes the watching. There were multiple text messages sent to my mother and I to update on how the eggs were doing. Genetic testing was done. Then came the most glorious early Christmas present for everyone. There was one egg. One. One basket. One egg. It was good enough for all of us.
February 2014 and after a lot more hormones, blood work and tests came implantation. On a Wednesday. Then came very frequent blood tests. I have never watched HcG levels so closely. Then came the confirmation and the overjoyed phone call from my brother. It worked! I found out that every Wednesday as they clicked off more weeks on the pregnancy my brother would drink a beer and share it with the dog. It seemed to be a good luck charm and his fiance's pregnancy kept progressing. We got a great text one day "It's a girl!". We were overjoyed as baby girls, if born early, do much better than their male counterparts. We got to see my brother and his fiance in May and witness the baby bump. His fiance had to continue with hormonal injections and suppositories, but everything looked great. Then came 28 weeks and a little celebration of viability (for those with advanced maternal age). By this point Auntie had blown her budget. There were onsies, strollers and and a stuffed octopus that keep socks that needed to be sent.
Then my brother's fiance had a vertigo attack and fell. She injured her back and didn't like how the pain medication decreased fetal movement. So she didn't take the meds and accepted being on bed rest. And by "accepted" I mean agreed to work from home and would run conference calls, return more e-mails a day than I get in a year. But, baby was fine and the end was getting near. The baby was breech and the c section was scheduled.
Cut to this week. Somehow, we finally got here. My brother was totally out of his mind waiting for the arrival of his daughter. He forgot which day I was flying in (we remedied it and he got me from the airport). He text me the wrong address. He just couldn't wait to meet her. His fiance was hanging in there. The amount of discomfort she was feeling was unfathomable. She would turn bright red and change position, but nary a complaint just encouragement for the little one to arrive. The amount of physical and mental toughness that she demonstrated through out the two year trial for a baby is admirable. If I ever own a football team I am drafting her to play. I threatened to posey (think a seatbelt that keeps you in bed) my brother's fiance when I got to spend two days with her before the delivery as she wasn't doing a very good job resting. I didn't do the best job of distracting her, but thankfully a Law and Order SVU marathon helped 5 hours go by.
Then came Wednesday, October 22nd at 12:54 pm. The greatest day in O'Brien history. Baby Addison arrived. The joy is immeasurable. I will forever be grateful to my brother and his fiance for letting me be there the day she was born. They worked and wanted so hard to have this child and to be able to be there to see all the tests and treatments turn into her was beyond amazing. They haven't invented the word yet to represent that feeling.
This tiny little human being is the manifestation of love, joy, strength, and perseverance.
To paraphrase Sally Brown (from Peanuts) Isn't she the cutest thing? She is so tiny and snuggly and she melts your heart the second she looks at you with her big blue eyes. You know your a lost cause when she she squirms why you hold her to work that arm out. I'm a goner. I cried all the way through take off on my flight home. I've never been more grateful to have an entire row of an airplane to myself.
Congratulations to my brother and his fiance. She will never doubt that she is loved.