Thirty one weeks…. T-H-I-R-T-Y O-N-E W-E-E-K-S people.
I finally feel like I can spend some time reflecting on this whole thing. Time is such a strange phenomenon and concept. Pregnancy has been one of the most unusual and difficult experiences of my life (and sometimes overwhelmingly amazing). Let’s go ahead and add to that experience the purchase of a new home, a remodel of said home, moving, and having a husband in a major accident and unable to use one leg for 10+ weeks.
I guess I should start from the beginning… (hang on, this is a LONG one)
I had quite the revelation in the fall of 2013 — I wanted a baby. This surprised no one more than me. The hubs and I had been talking about it for some time, but I wanted to really want one before we even started trying. I mean, I had spent the majority of my conscious adolescent/adult life knowing that I didn’t want kids. And then *bam* overnight it changed. It was actually a crazy dream that was the catalyst for me to recognize what was happening in my gut. Then I wrestled with “what does this mean” (because I am a crazy INTJ who must assign meaning to everything) and there was definitely a part of me that said, “what will people think”? But ultimately that was an easy answer — I don’t really give a shit what people will think about this because well, it’s no one’s decision but mine and my husband’s. And most importantly, the people that know us and love us the best and most will be supportive of nearly any decision we make, especially one to procreate. So, I started charting again.
Because I like to think that I have nutty intuition about things, I knew that it was not going to be a straight path to pregnancy. This was confirmed after two cycles of actually “trying”. (“Trying,” that’s a whole other essay in an of itself.) Because I was indeed charting I went ahead and called my practitioner and set up an appointment for March. Technically I was cheating because you are supposed to wait six months before you start down the road of examining infertility, but again, if you chart, you know what’s going on. And because I have the best OBGYN in the world, she was on board with getting to the heart of the problem right away and nothing will tell you that better than a blood panel and a peek inside your uterus. Thus, the next month I was scheduled for an HSG. This my friends, is not a fun procedure and one that probably deserves it’s own post.
I also started doing weekly acupuncture at this time. A very dear friend of mine told me that while she was trying to conceive she felt like western medicine took care of her physical body, but that acupuncture care for her mental body. Wise words friend, and I couldn’t agree more.
When the results of the HSG came in, they were very promising. It had in fact revealed that something was indeed wrong with my uterus and the following month I was scheduled for a hysteroscopy and a subsequent D&C to remove a polyp. Done and done… wait a month then we can try again. May was a month of healing and reflecting. I had to really be sure because it seemed that all systems were go now. June came and went. Then July happened. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was going to conceive in July. I had not idea why, but I just knew (it’s that weird intuition thing again). And sure enough, I was set to ovulate on my 36th birthday — which just so happened to be a full moon. And I knew.
I could hardly wait the two weeks to take a test. I couldn’t believe that I turned into someone that was going to bankrupt their account on pregnancy tests, but I wanted to see that positive sign. Days seemed like weeks. Acupuncture continued. Then I finally got my plus sign. I was all of the emotions you can possibly think of and then I’m sure I created a few new ones. But I had this amazing calm of just knowing. And then I didn’t know. Ten days after testing positive, I miscarried. It’s still too raw to talk about completely. The horribleness of the day and all the emotions that go with it. The very logical side of my brain said it was so early and that I shouldn’t be upset because it was barely even a thing yet. But my heart hurt none-the-less. We can also add on top of that heaping pile of contradictions a whopping pile of what-the-hell-happened-with-my-intuition?! Why didn’t I see this coming?! It was a real blow to my whole sense of self… And I spiraled for a bit.
I finally told my family about what happened and what had been going on for the last 10 months. I called close friends. I cried a lot. It’s insane how ubiquitous miscarriages are, especially “chemical pregnancies” (which is what mine was called). I will say that one of the emotions I never felt was shame. I seemed to keep hearing stories of how women don’t talk about their miscarriages because they feel ashamed. I think women don’t talk about it because who the hell likes to talk about hard things?! I might have felt shame if I thought I had possibly done something to compromise the pregnancy in some way, but this was so random I couldn’t help but recognize that it wasn’t me. It just was. And I haven’t wanted to talk about it because well, it’s hard, not because I’m ashamed. And of course as time is the only salve for deep wounds, it’s been easier to talk about or pipe up and say, “Oh, me too!”
But I write this pre-pregnancy story because I believe that it has shaped my current pregnancy. I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t be feeling different if I had not miscarried this first time.
It was two cycles after my miscarriage that we conceived. And you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the second line appear on my test. But really I thought, “it doesn’t matter, it might not stick.” Unfortunately I think I’ve carried that same voice in my head for 31 weeks.
This pregnancy has not been easy. Lord knows plenty of women have had it MUCH harder than this middle-class lady (who works from home!) … believe me I get that. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve not enjoyed it the way I thought I would.
First of all, because of the aforementioned
OCD charting and everything that went with that (daily exercise, no alcohol, not too much sugar, meditation, etc., etc., etc.) I thought I would take on my pregnancy like a boss! I ordered the Tracy Anderson method thinking I would workout as much as possible and that “Let’s Do This” would be my mantra. But I seemed to stay in the this suspended state of ….well, is this real?! And then when I was at the 7 week mark — embryo still in tact, the morning sickness came. And whoever coined it morning sickness is an idiot (a man, no doubt). It is the all day, you’ve been hit by a bus after you ran a marathon, and all of it’s happening on a boat in which you have sea-sickness, sickness. Getting out of bed and brushing my hair was proving to be my daily goal and challenge. The great irony is that exercise will in fact make you feel better… if you can just put one foot in front of the other.
I thought I would be so motivated — to work out, eat well, document every little thing. But really I just felt like crap — all – the – time and there was still part of my that didn’t believe that I was going to end up with a baby. It was like it was some sort of a test, or a cruel joke. I know women who have miscarried nearly half a dozen times! Why wouldn’t it be me too?
Sure, there were silver linings. Detecting a heartbeat at 7weeks and 4 days — mind blowing — and getting to surprise my parents and in-laws, all wonderful experiences. But it was the daily grind that was so tough. If I got pants on before 5pm each day, I considered it a victory. And as the weeks carried on I had all the usual stuff you hear about in pop culture — looking bloated not pregnant, running to the bathroom all the time, just sitting on the toilet and praying the colace would just work, carrying individually wrapped prunes in every pocket… all the usual. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that with every new ache and pain (and good lawd there’s a lot of them) I kept thinking, “…So this is it? This is the moment that I lose this one?” It was like a hypervigilance or hyperawareness had attached itself to my physical body.
I kept recalling one of the amazing Brene Brown’s points in her book Daring Greatly. She talks about one of the ways we keep ourselves from being vulnerable is by having what she calls “foreboding joy.” Not letting yourself fully enjoy something because you are trying to be prepared “just in case something happens.” This of course is crap because if in fact something does happen, you will be kicking yourself for not enjoying the moment more in the first place! See — it’s a vicious cycle. But the thing is I didn’t think that I was trying to prepare for the worst, I felt like I was just looking at facts. And the facts are, a lot (hear me — A LOT) of women miscarry. It still feels pretty cold and scientific. This was only reiterated to me after B’s accident. Shit Happens.
I find it a universal coincidence or Divine Providence that at week 20 I woke up and realized, “hey… I don’t feel like total crap today! Really, I just feel fat and kind of lethargic!” Ok, I’ll take it. I had 3 days of this peace when the worst day of my life happened. But adrenaline, no options, and God’s great mercy have given me the ability to push through the last 11 weeks, relatively nausea free.
The check ups have continued; I’m finally starting the twice a month visits and next month I’ll have one weekly starting in May. I hired a doula. I do not understand why this is not a prerequisite for all pregnant people. She’s fantastic and yet another voice for me to turn to with questions. And questions I still have.
My body feels hijacked. I hate that. I hate that I am not like my mother who repeated since my childhood, “I LOVED being pregnant!” I feel guilty for not enjoying it more. I know there are plenty of women who would gladly give nearly anything to experience what I have; yet here I am — feeling nothing like myself. The best part (and only part) that I really enjoy is feeling the baby move. I love feeling when he/she gets the hiccups (like 4 times a day) and when he/she responds to B or myself rubbing my belly. Those are the moments when I feel less like a “host” and more like a real person who has a real live human person inside of them. (The whole concept is still so weird to me. I mean — there’s something with feet — inside my stomach!) I also love how I completely misjudge places I can fit through — like at church when I was walking up to the lectern and I couldn’t really fit between it and the altar. The whole church thought that was funny. Or my tiny galley kitchen. You should see B and I trying to pass one another — him on his crutches, me reaching up on my tiptoes to get my belly to clear the counter so I can lean over and make room. That’s funny stuff. (Oh, and the thick hair. Hallelujah I finally have thick(ish) hair!)
I have also experienced a few real problems as well, particularly with my thyroid. So in some sense, my body has been hijacked and it’s no wonder that I don’t feel like myself because my hormones are all over the place. I’m not talking the hormones that make you weepy at lame commercials or the hormones that make you threaten divorce from you spouse because he didn’t straighten the pillows (again!), but I’m talking about the kind that make you sweat through your clothes at night and have heart palpitations that make you stop mid-sentence until you can catch you breath. Thanks baby for taking my hormones. I know you need them, but I could use a few myself. But I’m working with an endocrinologist to get them balanced.
Then right about a week before B’s surgery two weeks ago, I noticed that when I would go exercise my stomach would get tight… like really tight. I just assumed it was these Braxton-Hicks contractions I keep getting app notices about. But after 2 weeks of increasing tightness and realizing it was not just when I was exercising but when I was doing anything upright, I called my doctor. I thought, this can’t be normal, to be able to bounce a quarter off my belly (the only time in my life you’ve been able to do that!) all day long. A few days and series of emails later and I have what’s called “irritable uterus”. Great — another body part that’s revolting. What causes irritable uterus: dehydration, stress, lifting heavy objects. Sweet — I’m three for three! (Did I mention that I’ve moved into a new house while trying to remodel it while my husband can’t do anything — not even drive? That might count for a little stress.) The cure: laying down. Not sitting on the couch and working on emails; not sitting up in bed perusing pinterest — just laying down and trying to get my insides to relax!
After researching as much as I could (thank you Dr. Google) I felt really overwhelmed… and frustrated. As I waited in the parking lot for B to finish work, my mind was just racing. It was full of thoughts like, I’ve put on too much weight and what are the future implications of that (for delivery/baby’s healthy — not just vanity!); what happens if I do go into labor early (since this is a problem with irritated insides); will I ever get my thyroid regulated again? As the hubs hobbled into the car I began verbally processing all of this (for the millionth time with him — poor guy) and then the words fell out of my mouth,
“I feel like from the beginning I’ve been doing battle with this pregnancy! Nothing about this feels natural or intuitive or like my body was made for this!”
This people, is what you call a light-bulb moment. Why am I battling my body?! And then it hit me. Look, it is what it is. This is my pregnancy, and no one else’s. And this one is different from the last. Where did these “other” expectations come from?! So what that I’ve gained 25 pounds already (and some women I know love to tell me how they only gained 15 – 20!). So what if the baby comes early — I live in the 4th largest city in the country, I have the best doctor in the world, and I have a great family that will step in the second that I call. So what that my hips have spread a little too much and that it feel like it’s going to dislocate every morning when I roll over. It is what it is and I need to stop fighting it. And so I have.
It’s been just over a week now and dare I say that a new/unfamiliar emotion has entered my arsenal: optimism. Well, the phrase “It is what it is” is about as close to optimism as I get. I have felt free and like I’ve been able to take off some of this battle armor. I have to trust my body and not just analyze it. I need to trust my intuition again. It will not betray me. It cannot see the future, but that does not mean I should not trust it.
Sure, I still feel like a total hippo, my uterus gets angry daily, I have to lay down a lot, I have to pee 4 times a night. And sure the worst case scenario make still in fact happen… but I can’t do anything about it. I can only do what I can to take care of myself and the squirmy babe in my belly and let things be.
My mom says my new attitude is because she’s been praying for me to have peace. I think it’s because I finally bought a comfortable bra. Either way — it’s working. And I’m hoping this little nugget has at least 8 more weeks on the inside so I can send as many happy endorphins to it as possible — but I’ll deal with it if not.
It is a rare occasion that I put on make-up AND brush my hair at the same time, so since that happened I thought I might want to actually document what I looked like during my pregnancy at least one other time. (Don’t I have them all fooled. A more accurate picture would be me laying in bed or sitting on the toilet!) I hope I will be able to say to my child — this was the turning point — and your Papa captured it on film.