I decided that if I was going to write this blog, then I was going to be completely open and honest. Why bother if I was going to hide parts of my experience? Not everything has been roses and rainbows. There has been heartache. And I’ve swept that under the rug, kept it from most, and it got me to thinking… Why? Why are we as women societally pressured to hide our negative pregnancy or motherhood experiences? Does it make us feel like we are lesser women? Isn’t that when we need support the most?
My first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. It feels strange to even type that. It has been such a hush-hush topic for some resaon, I still don’t understand thoroughly why, yet it still seems foreign to share.
Anyway, we could never decide whether we wanted children. Yeah, we reasoned it might be fun, but we loved our lives. The freedom. The financial flexibility to do what we want. The travel. The DINK (Dual Income No Kids) lifestyle. Why ruin a good thing?
But then that biological clock started ticking. Well no, I take that back. MY clock didn’t start ticking, but others were winding my clock for me. Don’t you want kids, they would ask. Do you realize that at your age, you only have an X% chance of getting pregnant (I can’t remember what it was exactly, although I do remember it being dismal). You’re missing out. What? You’re not a “kid person”? It will change once you have your own.
So yes, it started to get to me. WERE we missing out?? What about when we were older, wouldn’t we want adult children and grandchildren to share experiences with? Could I even get pregnant in the first place?
So – I stopped taking the pill. The pill that I had been on since 19 years old. It didn’t mean we were making a decision, I reasoned. It just meant my body would be “ready” IF we decided to go for it. Oh and let me tell you, my body didn’t adjust too well to being off the hormone it had been on for years. Hot flashes, sweats, mood swings, bloating, horrible menstrual cramping, acne, you name it. Yes I know. I had heard all those things about losing 10 pounds once I got off the pill too. Nope, not me. I gained. If nothing else, I figured this was a good cleansing exercise for my body.
Months went by. We continued living our DINK lifestyle. And the “should we have kids” debate somewhat faded from the front of our minds.
December 2010. We are on vacation in South America (a wonderful trip to Peru and Chile). We’re in the taxi shuttling us from Lima to the airport to begin the second leg of our journey. I’m reading a travel brochure in the backseat. Suddenly it hits. A wave of nausea so strong I have to momentarily hold my breath. Put the brochure back on the seat; guess I shouldn’t read while driving. The nausea continues. Waves and waves. I stare out the window at the dirt roads and dilapidated buildings and concentrate concentrate on the horizon. Not working! OMG I’m going to throw up in this cab! Glance at hubby in earnest. He’s oblivious. Swallow down a bit of reflux. FINALLY. We’re at the airport.
Fast forward 6 hours. We’re at dinner in Santiago. A cute little Italian place. I asked for someting carb-olicious and distinctly NOT South American to help settle my stomach. I must have eaten something, caught a bug. Not the first time this has happened on my travels. Even the wine isn’t helping. Dinner’s over and we’ve walked the plaza. Can we go back to the hotel? I want to sleep this off.
Two weeks later. Back home. This damn bug just isn’t going away. I should be better by now. Working at home. Over lunch, run to the drugstore to pick up something to help (not sure what). Walking the aisles. See the pregnancy tests and also pick up a box of those in the event that we decide to start trying.
Home and still have some time left for lunch. I pull out the pregnancy tests. So weird it can tell by a stream of urine! Read the directions. There are 3 in the box. I wanna try one! To see how it works. Awkwardly figure it out and then leave it on the toilet seat.
End of day. Hubby will be home in an hour or so. Walk back into the bathroom – oh yeah, the pregnancy test! Pick it up. Two lines. I must have read it wrong, I thought one line meant you weren’t pregnant. Huh. Wait…. oh no…. wait….. where are those damn instructions. Read. Read again. Compare to the diagram. WHAT WHAT WHAT. Hands trembling. Sweating. TERROR. Look in the mirror and I’m white. No. No. NO way.
Call sister. DO 2 LINES DEFINITELY MEAN….?? Let me send you a picture. Are you sure?? The one line is a bit lighter. Are you sure??? Okay good idea. Hang on, I’ll do it again. Five minutes later, oh no. Oh no. Why are you so excited!?! I have to go.
Husband home. Show him. Assure him that maybe there is a mistake. I will call the doctor and go in tomorrow. Do not sleep the entire night. Not a wink. In to the doctors’ office. Pee in a cup. Yes, you’re a “little bit” pregnant. What does that mean?? You’re not far along.
Next few nights are sleepless and spent trolling the web for any and all information pertaining to pregnancy. We agree not to tell anyone else. We aren’t ready. Fear. Didn’t think it would really happen. Do we really want this?? We’re not ready. We are not ready.
Next appointment. I am going to take your HCG levels. Go home and manically Google “HCG.” Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin. A hormone produced after conception by a developing embryo (and later produced by the placenta). Okay. Doctor calls a few days later. Levels look good right now. We’ll test again during your next appointment.
Start imagining a baby inside my belly. Start wondering if it’s a boy or a girl. Start discussing due date and leave plans. Start listing out all the home renovations that need to be completed beforehand. Start adding a new line item to the weekly budget for “Baby Savings.” Start coming to terms with the fact that we’re going to be parents. Fear turns into nervousness turns into jittery excitement.
Third appointment. How are you feeling, she says. Actually much better. The nausea has almost totally gone away. I’m lucky! Good – let me take your HCG levels again.
Next day – Christmas Eve. Doctor calls. I think there is a lab error, she says. Your HCG levels have dropped to 9. What does that mean?? It means you’re not pregnant but I have never seen such a significant drop; it’s not really possible for it to drop so fast so quickly. It might be a lab error. We’ll test you again after the holiday.
Holidays are longest ever. Am I pregnant or not? Days spent Googling “HCG levels and miscarriage.” It appears she is right. It’s not normal for it to drop so quickly, even in the event of a miscarriage. And look at all these stories about lab errors. Must be a lab error.
Finally tested again and results back. It was a lab error. HCG levels are normal, on the low end but normal. Relief. Relief. Wow – Maybe we really do want this baby? Back to planning.
Next appointment and callback. HCG levels are not increasing how we would like. Let’s have you come in for an ultrasound. Okay. Ultrasound day. It looks like the pregnancy is “not viable.” What?? Why?? We don’t know why. It is very common. We can either see if you miscarry on your own or schedule for its removal. I guess let’s schedule it. If it’s not viable I don’t want to continue this.
I don’t believe it. I see online so many stories of “not viable” pregnancies making it. I am not bleeding. I feel fine. I keep taking my prenatals.
I am in the gym the next morning and break down (right out of the shower, no less). I share what’s going on with my friend. She is wonderful, encouraging. Her husband is a fertility doctor. She insists that I go see him to ease my mind. He will do an ultrasound and give me his thoughts. I feel bad, I say no, can you just have him look at my levels and see if they are normal? Just go see him, she says. It’s fine, I promise. I get dressed and she is on the phone with his office telling them to fit me in that morning.
I go see him. He and his staff are wonderful. He does the ultrasound. He confirms the pregnancy is not viable. He explains why – gently and in detail so I can accept it. On the way home from that visit, I begin bleeding.
My D&C is the next day. After the visit with my friend’s husband, I am calmed. I have accepted that there is no possibility this pregnancy will work out. The procedure is uneventful. I spend the next couple of days in a painkiller and tearful daze. I ply my doctor with questions about future risk of miscarriage. About 25%. That still means I have a 75% chance of carrying a pregnancy to term. I am told miscarriage is very, very common.
So why does nobody talk about it? Why are we scared to share with each other? Now that time has passed and I have done some reading, I realize that it IS common. I would have loved to have truly felt that when we were experiencing it ourselves. It’s hard for women. I felt as if something was wrong with me. I am so fortunate to be able to do so many things in my life, yet the one thing I am “supposed” to be able to do wasn’t working. Am I defective? Am I a “real woman”? Why did this happen? Because I exercised? Because I drank in South America? Because I ate salmon? Or is because I was so scared? Because I didn’t really think I wanted this when I first found out? Is that why? Are we being punished for those thoughts? Guilt. Regret.
The few people I shared it with didn’t really want to talk about it. I get it. What can they say? Yet I wanted to talk. Talked to husband, talked to sister. And talked. They grew tired of it. Wished I could talk to others.
Doctor said we could try again. Wait one month, then start trying. Do we want to try? What if this happens again? What if we fail? But the questions are different now. There is an assumption that we actually DO want this. We were terrified, then accepting, then excited. My sister put it beautifully when she said that this was Nature’s wake-up call. “You never knew if you wanted kids; you were scared when you got pregnant. Now you realize you want this and you are ready.”
That is the blessing I will always take from this. Round Two came along and there was no terror, no uncertainty, no regret. Joy. Tentative joy given our past experience, but joy nonetheless.