ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I am Nina Leicht-Crist. I was born and raised in Germany, and am a medical assistant, doula, lactation counselor, and Reiki practitioner by trade. I have earned a baccalaureate degree in management studies from University of Maryland University College while I lived in Germany and the United States. My husband served in the United States Army for 20 years before retiring and becoming a Physician Assistant (PA). He has two children from a previous marriage and together we have one son – a rainbow baby. You can read more about me on my blog Millions of Peaches, Her View From Home, and Huffington Post Deutschland. If you like social media, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Chances are if you think you know me, you are wrong. Imagine an entire cake. I’ve allowed you to know a slice of the cake; however, some might only know a bite of the cake. But since you probably can’t eat an entire cake without getting sick, it is safe to say you don’t know me.
I’m sorry if you think you knew me and maybe even think, “I thought we were friends!” I know many people and I’m sure I don’t know everything about them either. There are only a select few who know more than the average and to this day I thought that it was good this way.
I came across a website in 2015 called Her View From Home and I have turned into an avid reader of the stories published. People, mostly women, share their thoughts and feelings through writing. The writers can connect directly with their readers through comments and the community is very kind and respectful. While reading I caught myself forming sentences in my head and it was apparent something just wanted to come out of me.
On October 15, 2015, Her View From Home published my first article. Little did I know that story was only the beginning in my writing journey. It has been an adventure and each article is just another bite of my cake.
My first book is part of my life story since first meeting my husband in 1997. It entails details about our struggle with infertility, our life as a blended family while serving in the military, the love we have for each other, and our rainbow baby.
When referring to a rainbow baby, I am talking about our child who was born after three miscarriages. After the great flood, God made a covenant with the earth. He set a rainbow as a reminder. My rainbow baby is my reminder that after the storm I received my reward.
Lastly, my husband reminded me that we have a (spoiler alert) happy ending. Even if you don’t like happy endings, I’m inclined to predict you will like ours, so for all of you who like to read the last page of a book first (like me), please know that there is hope. That’s why I choose to share the good, but also the long road, the ugly, the sad, and the terrible with you.
Maybe, just maybe it will help one person cope, have hope, and patience until they can hold their rainbow baby in their arms -- just like we did on January 27, 2013. But before we get there I will start at the beginning.
Are you ready?
© 2016 Nina Leicht-Crist
Cover, Illustrations: Kayri Design, Mi-Ho Photography
Editing: Nina Leicht-Crist, Lori Ferguson, Cindi Dietrich
Translation: Nina Leicht-Crist
Publisher: tredition GmbH, Hamburg, Germany
All rights reserved
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 - THE BEGINNING - JULY 1997
CHAPTER 2 - PFORZHEIM
CHAPTER 3 - INTERNET
CHAPTER 4 - APRIL TO AUGUST 1998
CHAPTER 5 - BIRTH CONTROL
CHAPTER 6 - DREAMS AND HOPES IN 1999
CHAPTER 7 – THE RUBBER DUCKY
CHAPTER 8 - GARY’S DIVORCE
CHAPTER 9 - THE QUESTION
CHAPTER 10 - WARRIOR KNOWS NO PAIN
CHAPTER 11 - I CHOSE TO BE HER MOTHER
CHAPTER 12 - MY GOD IS POWERFUL
CHAPTER 13 - MY VACATION IS DONE
CHAPTER 14 - MY FIRST IVF WITH ICSI CYCLE
CHAPTER 15 - WE WILL TRY AGAIN
CHAPTER 16 - SUMMER 2004
CHAPTER 17 - KIDS
CHAPTER 18 - BACK TO UROLOGY
CHAPTER 19 - SELECTION
CHAPTER 20 - NORTH CAROLINA
CHAPTER 21 - 2005 TO 2007
CHAPTER 22 - JANUARY 2007 TO JUNE 2007
CHAPTER 23 - WE ARE HAVING A BABY
CHAPTER 24 - GRADUATION DAY
CHAPTER 25 - OH, WHAT A SHAME
CHAPTER 26 - LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
CHAPTER 27 - SEPTEMBER 2008 TO 2009
CHAPTER 28 - CURVEBALLS
CHAPTER 29 - MY 4TH IVF WITH ICSI CYCLE
CHAPTER 30 - MY 5TH IVF WITH ICSI CYCLE
CHAPTER 31 - IT’S JUST STUFF
CHAPTER 32 - OMA MARIE
CHAPTER 33 - MY 6TH IVF WITH ICSI AND PGD
CHAPTER 34 - ONE
CHAPTER 35 - MY PREGNANCY
CHAPTER 36 - INDUCTION
CHAPTER 37 - MY DELIVERY
CHAPTER 38 - THE DAY AFTER
CHAPTER 39 – NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
CHAPTER 1 - THE BEGINNING - JULY 1997
Once upon a time in a far away land a young maiden went out to a club with her friends. She was an ordinary girl, dressed in comfortable jeans, a blue plaid button down shirt, and boots. She had blonde curls that hit her collarbone and didn’t wear much make-up. She didn’t dress “sexy” as many of the other girls her age told her often, but she told herself she didn’t care what other people thought about her. She was not exactly comfortable in her own skin and had lots of self-doubts, but she knew what she wanted out of life and that was a good start for someone who was just a month shy of being 18 years old.
Yes, the girl I am describing is me. I had just finished my first year of vocational college with a major in medical assisting. I had chosen obstetrics and gynecology as my specialty and was in the process of getting a driver license. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I nursed my drink and watched people. I was much better at people watching than dancing and soon noticed a group of young men. All of them were dressed casual and looked different than the usual boys in town. My first guess was they were soldiers and subconsciously I told myself right then and there -- in my Oma’s voice no less -“Soldiers have girls in every town!” and decided immediately that I would not be one of them.
However, my interest was awakened and through eavesdropping I found out they were U.S. Army soldiers. Exciting! English was one of my favorite subjects in high school (thanks to my 9th and 10th grade teacher) and my friends encouraged me to ask them where they came from.
Small talk in a foreign language is pretty hard when one is a nervous teenager, so I was gesticulating often to get my point across. It was probably comical to watch when eventually I spilled my drink into one of the guys’ lap. Oh what a shame! If only the floor could’ve opened and swallowed me whole… Lucky for me the guy took it like a champ and laughed it off. He even bought me another drink and asked if I wanted to dance. We had a good time, danced and laughed all night and some time during our small talk I noticed a ring on his left ring finger. I pointed to it and simply asked, “Girlfriend?” but he shook his head and said with a straight face, “Nope. Married!”
The guy was just barely older than me… a few weeks shy of his 21st birthday to be exact. If there was one thing that I was sure of, it was that I would not get married until I was at least 30! My mother had me very early in life and always stressed the point how hard it was to go to school, do homework at night, work on the weekends, cook, clean, do laundry, and raise a baby who wouldn’t stop crying; hence I had decided I wouldn’t get knocked up before I was 30 years old or older.
I felt nothing but pity for him. “Nice guy though. Really nice guy,” I thought, and since I considered myself a realistic person I was sure we would never see each other again.
CHAPTER 2 - PFORZHEIM
I was wrong! A few days after our first encounter, the phone rang at my parents’ house. It was a Tuesday afternoon and my afternoon off. When I answered, a young man’s voice asked for me -- in English no less -- and my heart was instantly beating fast as my mind began racing. Who in the world could it be? It was the “really nice guy” from the other night.
I had no recollection of handing out my phone number to any of them; especially not Gary who was on the phone and really didn’t know what to do, so I asked him to hold and turned to my mom for advice. She looked at me for a second and told me to invite them to our house. Trying to figure out a meeting point was next. Gary explained he was in a phone booth near “Leopoldstra-be.” There was a pause of confusion… Leopoldstrabe? There was no such place that I knew of, so I asked him to look around and find something else. He answered, “Roxy.” That was a place I was familiar with, so I told him to stay put until I could get there.
Meeting Gary at “Leopoldstrabe” became one of my favorite memories. Since I didn’t have a license yet, my mom had to give me a ride. It took about 15 minutes to get to the city center -- actually Leopoldstraße, the letter that looks like a B is actually pronounced like a sharp-s in German.
There he was standing on the corner, sticking out like a sore thumb with his baggy jeans, yellow Lakers jersey, and baseball hat. Back at my parents’ house, Gary and his friends properly introduced themselves to my parents – handshake, sir, ma’am, and all. My dad’s English wasn’t great, but I could tell he was impressed by their politeness. He tried his best to make conversation the way any dad would if a bunch of soldiers show up at his place. He even pulled out a globe, so he could envision where they were from, and asked a lot about America and why they were in Germany. All the while my mom poured Apfelsaftschorle (loosely translated: apple juice spritzer) and served some cookies.
At first I tried to get a hold of my friends, but nobody had time. Of course, not! It was a weekday and everybody was either at work, school or had other obligations… thankfully after a few hours one of my distant cousins called and said she had time to meet us for dinner.
It was a fun evening that ended early. I wasn’t 18 years old yet and had a strict curfew. Further, the next morning was my driver’s test and I needed to rest, so I could pass! Driver’s testing is a lot more rigorous in Germany than it is anywhere in the USA. When we said our final good-byes, I was a little sad that I would not see them again, but thankful for the adventure. Their time in Germany was up, as the aircraft that would take them to their next destination had been repaired. Before getting out of the car I realized I didn’t even know where they were headed, so I asked where they would go? The answer was, “Bosnia” and before I could think it through I mentioned once I had passed my driver’s test, I could take my little red VW Polo and drive to Bosnia to visit them… “Don’t do that,” Gary said, “It is not safe.”
I didn’t understand at all. It was 1997 and I was naïve, young, and completely clueless despite the fact our town was full of refugees from the Balkans. Gary and his friends were part of a NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) mission and helped in the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia.
CHAPTER 3 - INTERNET
Staying in touch wasn’t the plan, but when Gary and his friends sent a letter asking if I had e-mail, so we could write more often, I had to get creative. My dad didn’t believe in staying up-to-date with technology. We didn’t have a computer. Heck, we didn’t even have cable TV for that matter, so I had to beg my Uncle to upgrade his phone service and get Internet. I offered to pay for it, but he never charged me a dime (thank you for that). Within a few weeks we were able to e-mail each other. As a matter of fact, logging into your dialup Internet with a 14.4 Kbps connection and waiting for your e-mail account to load was an adventure all by itself… waiting for a page to load required patience!
Over the next three months Gary and his friends stayed in touch regularly. Some of them I got to know very well. I liked to write letters. It was exciting and fun to have American pen pals. Then from one day to the next all communication seized. I tried e-mailing them for a few weeks, but got no reply. Eventually I stopped and archived this time under “Life Experience”.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from one of the guys who was stationed in Germany. He invited me to a Volksfest (it’s a similar event like the State fair) in Stuttgart. After that evening, we went out a few times and started dating shortly thereafter. My dad didn’t like him at all. He was seven years my senior and according to my parents, everything was wrong with him. So what does a young girl do when her parents tell her no? You guessed it… I declared I was in love and I would date him no matter what they thought. It ended up being one of those “It’s complicated” relationships that I eventually would archive under “Stupid Teenager”.
CHAPTER 4 - APRIL TO AUGUST 1998
The following year, some day in April, I received a phone call. My heart leaped when I recognized the voice and before he could say anything else, I asked, “Where the hell have you been?”
Soon after our talk, Gary and I met for pizza. Gary learned that in Germany a German-Italian pepperoni pizza is not equal to an American pepperoni pizza and a glass of water isn’t free. More importantly, I learned what seemed to be everything about his rather unhappy life.
He said he married because he got his high school girlfriend pregnant right after graduation. They found out when he was in basic training. Since he came from a patchwork family he thought, doing the right thing was the same as love. He told me about getting orders to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and since he didn’t want to go there, he tried to get out of it. However, he was sent to Korea right after advanced individual training (AIT) instead. It was an unaccompanied tour (that means one cannot bring his or her family) and consequently missed the birth of his firstborn son. I could see that he was still very sad about that and it was the reason he hadn’t wanted to miss the birth of his daughter who had been born in February. He was very detailed about her delivery and since I was finishing up my second year of medical assisting in OB/GYN, I was listening attentively. Gary explained that his wife had requested his return from Bosnia and that’s why he stopped communicating via e-mail. His work was not very happy about that, but attending to his family always came first.
He literally poured his heart out and while I listened and tried to keep a poker face, I thought to myself, Nina, make sure you don’t get married before you’re 30! More so than ever, I pitied Gary thoroughly. How could someone at 21 years old have so many problems?
My dad once told me the eyes are the windows of the soul and his eyes looked incredibly sad. Leaving his children behind with the wife he didn’t love was a tough decision. I didn’t really know what to say though. I had no advice to give. How could I? I was just 18 years old and no relationship expert, so I did what I do best. I just listened. Our friendship had reached a new level of trust or so I thought. Yet, a few months later, Gary received some unexpected news from home and went back to America without saying a word. Again. It was like déjà vu and I told myself that this guy was a poor soul that could not be saved (by me).
Some time in late-July, he came back from America and explained he had received a phone call from his wife that worried him so much that he decided he would give his marriage another try -- for the kids. I was impressed by his maturity! Putting the kids first was what selfless and true love must look like.
Some time in August 1998, Gary’s family arrived and seeing him interact with his kids was truly special. He was in love with them. There was no doubt about that. He did not love his wife and she did not really love him, housework, or anything else. She was a Negative Nancy through and through. There was no doubt about that either.
CHAPTER 5 - BIRTH CONTROL
My parents started dating very young and got married when my mom was just 17 years old. I was born 4 months later. Back then, people were cruel when young people had a baby out of wedlock, but my parents rose above it. Their love for each other remains strong to this day, for richer or poorer, despite ups and downs, as well as good and bad times, so that is what I associated with marriage.
When Gary told me he would get a vasectomy as a precaution, so his wife wouldn’t get pregnant again, I really didn’t understand. He was now 22 years old and didn’t love his wife, so how was she going to get pregnant? Yes, you may chuckle, but at the time I sincerely thought love and sex went together hand in hand. Nevertheless I soon learned that love and sex don’t always go together and since I didn’t want to seem inexperienced I swallowed hard and archived this piece of information under “Lessons Learned”.
Needless to say, I was appalled by the decision and tried to play devil’s advocate. I was in my third year of medical assisting; if I wasn’t experienced in relationships at least I should be considered a semi medical expert. I even asked my boss and she assured me, “No physician in his or her right mind will give a 22-year old a vasectomy”.
However, military medicine and some military doctors seemingly didn’t care one way or another as long as a soldier had a boy and a girl – check and check – the surgeon was going to perform the vasectomy in the family clinic on post. As a last ditch effort, I asked Gary, “What if your marriage doesn’t work out and you find someone special who would want a child from you?” He blew me off. If it didn’t work out with his wife, he would NEVER get married again AND he would NEVER have any more children with ANYBODY. He emphasized with, “Ever!” and got a vasectomy a few days later.
When I came by to check on him after the procedure, he was sitting on the couch with an ice pack between his legs, a 7-month-old baby girl in his arms and a 3-year-old boy riding circles around the coffee table in the living room with his tricycle watching a comedy where a lawyer can’t lie for 24-hours because his son wished for it. Gary’s wife was at work. Since Gary was high on painkillers, I felt obligated to stay and take care of the kids, so he could rest.
Through the holidays Gary and his family seemed to be doing better, but it was just a façade -- a merry-go-round filled with heartache and drama. At one point I had heard the same problem and argument again and again and it was getting old. I was sick of listening to both of them complain about each other, but not really making anything better. I remember telling Gary to get off the merry-go-round or keep riding it, but to make a choice and stick with it. Again, I was 19-years old and no relationship expert. It was certainly not as easy as I made it sound. He loved his children more than anything and divorcing their mother meant he would not see them again in a long time. Gary was heartbroken, but at a point where he was beyond unhappy -- I could barely stand watching my friend wither away in agony. I told myself over and over to make sure and find the right person before I would get married.
In January 1999, one of Gary’s neighbors invited them to go skiing. Without hesitation, I offered to watch the kids, so he could take his wife on a weekend get-away to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The town is in Bavaria in Southern Germany at the foot of the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. It was winter and there’s always a lot of snow. I imagined it would make them feel as if they were home in Montana. Further, I thought it might help improve their relationship. I imagined they would have fun, go out to dinner, and talk. Maybe they would find back to each other and remember why they said yes in front of God and their family in the first place, but I was wrong. It was truly the straw that broke the camel’s back. Both of them came home hating the other more than before.