*Look, there might be some TMI in here. You were warned. Also, this is long as hell. I tried to condense it but I’m telling a story here, people. And I don’t want anything left out.
It seems strange to be five weeks already, but if you understand how pregnancies are dated you know that we start counting on the first day of the last period, and for the last six months or so I’ve had 23-day cycles so wow, here we are.
It seemed wrong to me too when I looked it up this morning, but here’s the calculator I used. It shows everything, like when we could tell the sex, when the fetus would be viable (that’s traditionally the day we buy the crib!) and when I’d be full term. Going into labor on my anniversary? Entirely possible.
Some people questioned why we announced that we were pregnant so soon. While many people choose to wait until much later in their pregnancies, I like to be up front about it as soon as I pee on the stick and see the lines.
Maybe that’s because I’ve had two miscarriages? I don’t know. Observed statistics says that 33.3% of the time I’ll end up with a healthy baby, but my doctors always said the miscarriages were a fluke.
The first, at 4.5 weeks, was a very early miscarriage. I hadn’t planned that one at all. We had just returned from our honeymoon, and I played an April Fools’ joke on everyone that I was pregnant. The joke was on me when I found out three days later, after getting extremely dizzy in a car, that I was in fact a little knocked up.
It was over as soon as it began though, and shook me to my core. I remember sitting on the floor in the bedroom crying so hard I thought I might break a bone. It was the first time I understood what keening sounded like.
I hadn’t really wanted a baby at all until I realized that I wasn’t going to have one. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever felt.
Five months later, our homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ike. The next month, my husband transferred to Kansas City. I joined him at Christmas, and was pregnant by New Year’s.
Again, whoops. We weren’t trying, we had actually used protection. Do you hear me, teenagers? CONDOMS DON’T WORK ALL THE TIME.
I was excited for this pregnancy. I felt that even though I hadn’t planned it, I could handle it. Finances would work themselves out.
My husband was feeling pretty virile. He started referring to himself as “The Sniper.” His family made all kinds of statements about the fertility of the Mash Men.
At eight weeks, we found out during an ultrasound that I was carrying a blighted ovum. Just a big empty sac with a few random tissues in it. An embryo that never formed.
Boy, that sucked.
I chose to naturally miscarry, and refused all medications and interventions until two weeks later when I actually began to pass the tissue and then I was all GIVE ME DRUUUUUGS.
I was actually on my first day at a new job when I passed the blighted tissue. Words cannot express how gross and horrifying that was. Alone. In a bathroom in a place I’d never been working with people I didn’t know.
We sought out reproductive counseling, which is maddening. Here you are, unable to do the one thing you’ve pretty much been made to do, and you need counseling for it.
Our counselor was sweet, took our histories and brightly informed us that there was nothing wrong with either one of us, really, and that we just needed to try again. That it was bad luck.
So we tried. We tried all summer long.
Finally, frustrated, 30 years old, I gave up. I had ordered this atrocious book, “Taking Care of Your Fertility” along with a pack of cheap internet ovulation tests a few weeks before and was thinking about sending them back, if they ever arrived.
I told my husband, “I’m done! No more trying! This isn’t working! I’m defective!”
The next day, the book and the tests arrived. The book read like stereo instructions. I placed it on the bedside table. The tests were weird. Little sticks, blue on one end and white on the other. It came with five pregnancy tests too.
So of course, I peed on one. It immediately popped up two lines.
I peed on another one. Two more lines. Faint, but there.
I went to the store, plopped down big bucks for a First Response, and got two more lines.
I was pregnant. I told everybody. Fear of miscarriage be damned, this was going to be MY BABY.
And it was! I had a gorgeous little red head nine months later. He’s two and playing at my feet while I type this. He’s perfect, and worth all the trouble. But although I had valiantly declared that I would not fear miscarriage, I worried about nothing but that for the entire nine months.
Anxiety ate me alive during that pregnancy. Even so far as into the last weeks, when I worried over scans of his hands, freaking out because I couldn’t see finger bones. Even when I had to fight the guilt trips my husband’s family kept laying on us because we didn’t want anyone at the hospital for the birth.
To everyone else, my son’s birthday was going to be this carefree, happy day. To me, it was a goal that I wasn’t sure I was going to meet. A project I worried I hadn’t completed correctly. I wanted no one but my husband and myself there when my son arrived. Until I could inspect him thoroughly. Until I knew he was perfect.
I struggled with post-partum anxiety as well. I worked through it on my own, until it faded from a scream of what-ifs playing in 24-hour surround sound in my brain to a dull whisper that pops up now and then when I’m unsure of something.
That brings us to present day. We’d been talking for months about possibly adding to the family. The only question was whether or not I should go back to work.
I struggled with this. If I went back to work, sure, I’d have great medical coverage and extra money. But what about when the baby came? Would I go back to work the next school year too? Would I miss out on this baby’s firsts, give them to a babysitter instead?
I didn’t like that idea. But I also knew that if I took a teaching job and left it after a year, suddenly there’s be this weird pattern on my resume that would not look good.
I fretted about it all during May and June while I applied for jobs and interviewed.
When I returned from Texas in mid-June, I was frustrated with the job search. We decided to go ahead and try for a baby instead.
Well, I didn’t end up with a job, and for good reason I hope. I hope it’s because we’re going to end up with a baby. I’m hoping God spared me from having to make the decision to leave my infant at home. I know so many women who do go back to work, and I don’t know how they manage it all.
So here we are. Just a little bit pregnant.
Do I know that there’s a significant chance this pregnancy won’t work out? Sure. Will I be hurt if it doesn’t? Well yeah.
But I’m not going to let the anxiety suck me in. I’m not running to the doctor for betas and early ultrasounds. In fact, I haven’t even made an appointment yet.
I’m just hanging out, gestating. Letting myself dreamily peruse websites full of baby stuff for the first time. Researching names without trepidation. Praying away the anxiety when it gets loud, occupying myself with projects that don’t allow me the time to worry.
I am, for possibly the first time in my life, allowing myself to not consider the worst and only hoping for the best.
Maybe I’m setting myself up for heartbreak, sure. But maybe I’m also allowing myself to fully experience joy.
Time will tell.