In early July 2012, my husband and I decided to stop trying not to have a baby. At the end of July, right after my 29th birthday, I found out I was pregnant. I was not expecting a pregnancy to happen so quickly, although of course I knew it was possible. Then, just as quickly as it happened, it un-happened. I had a miscarriage a week before my eight-week ultrasound was scheduled -- the appointment where I would have heard the baby’s heartbeat. Instead, I spent that eighth week in a hellish amount of pain; my miscarriage seemed to go on forever.
I didn’t mourn the loss of that baby, because for me, the baby didn’t really exist yet. I hadn’t seen any sonogram photo. I had just barely even started to get excited about the idea of being pregnant. I lost a teeny-tiny idea of a baby, not a human being. I know other women feel differently, but this is how I felt. How I feel, even now, six months later.
But although the miscarriage was more of a health scare than an emotional loss, something shifted in my mind afterward. The thought of getting pregnant became scarier, even scarier than it had been. Right now, my fear of miscarrying again is absolutely winning out over my desire to have a baby.
I’m not the kind of girl who has always dreamed about having a baby. For much of my life, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to carry my own child. I believe in adoption and foster care, that there are children who already exist that need homes. The whole growing-a-baby-in-my-belly thing has always freaked me out. I don’t see pregnant ladies and get jealous or want to touch their tummies. And the actual giving birth part? That’s the stuff horror movies are made of, if you ask me.
After a miscarriage, you’re advised to wait at least two cycles before trying to get pregnant again. That was totally cool with me. I’ve had six very regular cycles now, and I’m still waiting. But in the past few weeks, I’ve begun thinking about when I might want to stop waiting. And instead of the older fears of a difficult pregnancy and painful delivery, I have a new fear: that I’ll miscarry again.
For women my age, the chances of having a miscarriage can range from 12-15 percent, and for most healthy women of any age there is about a 15-20 percent chance of miscarriage. Them’s some high percentages! Reading about how common miscarrying is felt really comforting back when I was having my own miscarriage. I ingested statistics like the ones I just wrote down like they were pizza. Really delicious pizza. Now, those same statistics just make me wonder – could it happen again?
Of course it could happen again. It could happen again and I might still then go on to have a full-term pregnancy. Or, it could happen again and I might learn that I’m going to have ongoing trouble carrying a baby to term. Oh, and there’s the 85 percent chance I will go on to have a healthy pregnancy without miscarrying again and it’ll all work out fine.
But I’m a worst-case scenario kind of woman. I like to prepare for the harshest outcome and be pleasantly surprised if something other than that happens. Also, my logical brain has very little control over my emotional brain. And my emotional brain is all, “Lady, you are going to go through that miscarriage shit all over again. You just wait and see.”
In therapy, I’ve talked a lot about this whole emotional brain/logical brain conundrum. I try to focus on what I know is true, but what I feel is true usually wins out. Right now, my fear of miscarrying again is absolutely winning out over my desire to have a baby. Does that mean I’m still not ready to have a baby? Or am I just scared? I honestly don’t know. My husband is wonderful and supportive and isn’t pushing me into a pregnancy I’m maybe not ready for.
So maybe I just need to wait a little longer? Or stop waiting? Or, maybe it’s just about time to tell my emotional brain to STFU and let my logical brain make this decision. I’m starting to worry if I don’t, my fears will continue to fester and loom ever larger. There are so many possible outcomes of pregnancy, each with its own set of frightening statistics. If I never push past this mental roadblock and allow myself to move forward optimistically, I’ll be stuck in “What if?”-land permanently. That’s a lose-lose situation, and both my emotional brain and my logical brain should be smart enough to know better.
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(photo: sittipong / Shutterstock)