I never really experienced a stress-free pregnancy. I was always jealous of the women who hadn’t had the experience of a scare – or a loss. I envied the way that they moved through their pregnancies, blissfully unaware that Mother Nature was a total bitch that could take it all away at any moment.
After an early miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, and a miscarriage the day before my 12-week ultrasound – when I finally became pregnant again I was beyond terrified.
My doctor, in an attempt to ease my mind, offered ultrasounds every two weeks for the first three months of my pregnancy. I wouldn’t recommend this. The ritual that was supposed to be relaxing me was actually making me a nervous wreck. On each visit I would look away from the screen, convinced that I wouldn’t see the flickering light that indicated a tiny, beating heart. Each time, it would be there. Look, there it is, the doctor would beam. Yeah, for now, I would think.
After the bi-monthly ultrasounds came to end, I purchased an at-home fetal heart rate monitor. Daily, I snuck into our bedroom to perform this ritual. I say “snuck” because my husband had no idea that this was something I was doing every day. I’m pretty sure he thought it was something I did every couple of weeks – the few times a month I would summon him to join me. I don’t know why I hid this from him. Maybe because I knew it was obsessive. Maybe because I didn’t want him to know how worried I was. Or maybe just because I didn’t want him to think I was a total freak.
I spent hours on baby boards analyzing how women were feeling and acting. I didn’t have any morning sickness. This would normally be a reason to rejoice, but for me it was an indication that something was definitely wrong. Why was I feeling so good when all of these other ladies were complaining constantly?
When women would share the ways in which they told their friends and families that they were pregnant, I would think, too early! You’re going to regret that. Daily, I would cynically judge their joy – thinking they were too naive to understand that they weren’t in the clear. When I stumbled upon an “I’m out” or “Trigger Warning” post – which indicated that someone had miscarried – I would avoid it as if just looking at the words would manifest the same horrible outcome for me.
I studied every weekly explanation of “how your baby is growing” that was offered on just about every pregnancy site on the Internet. At any moment, I could tell you which fruit my growing fetus most closely resembled and the ways in which all of his organs were developing.
Does this sound fun, at all? It wasn’t. It was an effing nightmare.
The thing is – apart from all of this obsessing – I had a really easy pregnancy. I didn’t have morning sickness. I wasn’t too tired. I worked behind a bar until I was seven months pregnant and in a restaurant until mere weeks before I gave birth. I gained less than 20 pounds. It was all very easy. This fantastic pregnancy was pretty much lost on me though, as I took the absence of symptoms as a sign that something was definitely wrong.
Nothing was wrong. Forty-one weeks after I became pregnant, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Forty-one weeks of hand wringing, sleepless nights, and so much Internet research it would make your head spin – all the while, not enjoying the fact that I was experiencing one of those rare, easy, totally symptom-free pregnancies.
As I write this, there is a smell emanating from my neighbor’s apartment that is making me want to stab myself in the face. My stomach is in knots, my head hurts, and if I didn’t have a toddler who is going to be demanding my attention as soon as Sesame Street is over, I would climb right back into bed.
I’m pregnant again.
It took three years of infertility, two miscarriages, one ectopic pregnancy, acupuncture, temperature charting, ovulation predicting, body cleansing – and a zillion other strange rituals I don’t even want to mention to get me to the birth of my son. This time around – it was one night that we were less than careful.
Mother Nature may be a bitch, but she certainly has a sense of humor.
In the absence of all of the contemplating and organizing that goes on when a pregnancy is planned – I am realizing that there are some things in life that you have no control over. This time around, I am going to be okay with that. I refuse to spend even one second of this pregnancy in the “miscarriage zone.” I’m nine weeks today, and even though I’m not in “the clear” as they say – I am telling the world that I’m pregnant.
I haven’t had a single ultrasound and only one very routine doctor visit that basically just involved a pregnancy test. I’ll be going next week for a more detailed visit that will involve blood tests and other things that will confirm or deny the strength of this pregnancy. Maybe I’ll regret my decision if things are not okay. But at this point, I’m really sick of the idea that pregnancy loss is something to be hidden – and something that women have to go through alone. I’m not doing it that way this time.
So I’ll just be crossing my fingers, playing with my child, trying not to puke, and believing everything is okay. I want to actually enjoy this pregnancy. I think I’ll start by not spending the first three months of it scared shitless.