There is a lot that they don’t tell you about pregnancy. And it isn’t just the bizarre body changes that occur during the nine months you’re carrying that hold surprises —just making the decision to try and get pregnant can bring up a whole host of unanticipated questions and concerns.
Like many women, I’ve spent the majority of my life trying not to be pregnant. I’ve been on the pill for nearly half of the time I’ve been alive. As a teenager and into my early 20s, I was always certain about what I’d do if I got unexpectedly knocked up. I grew up with a father who never should have been a father. I sure as hell wasn’t about to be a parent before I was able to.
About a year ago, my husband and I decided that we were ready to stop “trying not to get pregnant.” Then, before I was even able to get as far as changing that sentence around in my head to “trying to get pregnant,” I was pregnant. Eight weeks later, I had a miscarriage and wasn’t pregnant anymore. My miscarriage happened early, and it didn’t feel like an emotional loss to me. But it was painful and scary, and left me unsure about trying to get pregnant again.
It took awhile for my desire to have a baby to outweigh my fear of miscarrying again. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I started to feel ready. But over the past couple of months, trying again has been a subject of frequent conversation between my husband and I. The nature of these conversations has been unexpectedly practical.
The thing is, there’s this destination wedding in Hawaii next January that we’d really like to attend. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to attend if we had a newborn or if I were about to give birth. And I had terrible morning sickness (that lasted all day) during those two months I was pregnant last year. I’m not a great traveler at my best; I don’t imagine it would be much fun to travel while feeling continually nauseous. Come to think of it, my first trip to Hawaii would be a lot less fun without being able to sip on a piña colada. I’m no lush but what tropical trip is complete without one of those?
We started to do the math. Literally, we began counting the months. If I didn’t want to be about-to-burst, we’d need to wait until at least the summer to start trying. If I wanted to be pregnant but not too pregnant, we’d probably want to conceive around September. If I wanted that piña colada, pregnancy would have to be postponed until after the wedding.
Once we started thinking pragmatically, other scheduling conflicts arose.
I’m turning 30 in July and had planned to get a tattoo for the occasion. As you’re probably aware, getting a tattoo while pregnant isn’t advisable. I’m not even sure if it’s legal. Did I want to wait until after I got the new tattoo and it had healed up to start trying? And my husband has a busy few months ahead at the office. He’d have more time for foot-rubbing and midnight ice-cream-and-pickle runs if we waited until November or December to start trying.
Then the discussions got a little silly.
“I don’t really want to have a baby in the middle of winter,” I noted. Also, wouldn’t a spring birthday be nice for our theoretical future kid? There are a lot of February birthdays in my family, so many that we group them together for an annual cake party. Maybe we wanted to avoid a February due date?
Don’t fault us for feeling like I was bound to get pregnant as soon as we started trying. That’s what happened last time, so even though we both know it might not happen that way again, it still feels like it will.
But maybe you can fault us a little for thinking so logically about the whole thing. We’ve been acting like we can put having a baby on the calendar the same way you’d put, well, a vacation or a new tattoo on the calendar.
The truth is, we’ve been waiting a long time to start trying again. There was the miscarriage, which was a setback (to put it mildly). There was my foot surgery in January and subsequent recovery. We moved into a new house in October and needed time to get settled.
Maybe missing our friends’ wedding is a chance we’re willing to take. Maybe my tattoo can wait a year. Maybe my husband is perpetually stressed at work, but will figure out how to fit in the foot rubs. Maybe we can make sure our child’s birthdays are always awesome even if we don’t plan on a specific season for them ahead of time.
I like to be in control of everything all of the time. But I already know that pregnancy involves giving up a whole lot of it, immediately. And I know that being a parent will bring infinite new challenges and surprises our way. There will be so much stuff that we can’t plan. Even without children, life throws unimaginable curve balls at us constantly.
In the end, some things just can’t be scheduled.