There is a veil of misunderstanding around pregnancy and becoming pregnant. The first lie?
Getting pregnant is easy for everyone.
[Edit: the preface of lies is that every woman WANTS to be pregnant <– more to come on this in future posts]
I’m a planner. I have a 10 & 5 year life plan, a goals list that I write out every single day, and a daily to-do list based on these goals. When Marc and I started to think about planning for pregnancy, I built a timeline. So, if we get pregnant in August, I can have the baby during April break and then return to school the following September. I’ve been fortunate and worked hard so my life plans pan out. I assumed this would too – my body would do what I needed it to in order to fit a neat timeline.
Let me say before moving on that if you’re laughing at me – I get it. What an incredibly naive and narcissistic thing to think, right? Sister, hindsight is 20/20, but I can be pretty blind when there is something I want. Carry on…
August came and went without a pregnancy. So did September. Then October. I started questioning if the birth control I’d been on was still lingering in my body. I read books on how to “prepare my womb” for a healthy pregnancy. Nothing I did or changed led me to that little pink plus sign.
This process became a burden on my marriage and brought some ugly emotions to the surface. I felt betrayed by my body. I can remember crying at Marc and asking him why I couldn’t do what my body was BUILT to do? How could I ever prove myself as a mother if I couldn’t do the one natural thing I was designed for? Looking back, I can see how irrational these questions are, but I felt them deep within that place that so longed for a child to grow.
After months of trying and tears, I called the Fertility Centers of New England in Braintree. As expected, the initial visit consisted of scheduling a host of tests for both of us: blood work, an intrauterine dye screening, sperm counts, and tracking. We downloaded apps and bought every single ovulation test available. It felt like progress to be taking steps by seeking answers. After weeks of appointments and follow ups, we had a result. We sat in a little office, me clutching Marc’s arm and my data chart of ovulation dates, thoughts of would my sister surrogate for me? How expensive is adoption? percolating through my thoughts. The news: my ovulation window was too short. I could get pregnant when I was ovulating, but there wasn’t enough time for conception to stick around. I couldn’t stay pregnant. This sounds like I miscarried on many occasions, but the pregnancy was never fully fledged enough to miscarry. The solution to this was fairly simple – add a hormone into the mix and wham! Pregnancy abounds! Ok, so add a hormone, take your basal body temperature daily, pee on ovulation strips, and pray. This was all doable. We could do this.
The hormones made me CRAZY.
I don’t mean crazy like I yelled once without reason or even the stereotype of women being crazy. I mean that I felt out of control of my own emotions. We’ll talk later about this, but what comes most easily to me is often anger and unrelenting rage. This lived on the surface of my personality for months and because I am a teacher, I squashed it down ALL DAY LONG. And then I came home. Nightly, I turned into a dementor and sucked the life from those around me. And then I cried about it. I went to sleep and would do it all again the next day. After this black out occurred, I promised to do better because I could see the damage I was doing, but when I was IN these moments, I didn’t know. I was becoming unhinged.
The holidays were coming and if you know me, you know how much I relish Christmas. I love everything about the magic of the season: the lights, the gift buying, wrapping paper, a tree in the house, the music! I love it ALL. So, in order to avoid being a demogorgon during my favorite time of year, Marc and I decided to push pause on the baby train routine. I think we were both relieved to take a break from this and think about something else for a month or two. If you and your partner haven’t struggled with fertility, then you haven’t had the blame game conversation (at least about this topic). I hope for your sake that you haven’t. Our home was a tense place and while the end goal of bringing a baby into the world is such a joy, the process of getting there is rugged.
Christmas came and went and I wasn’t ready to go back on the hormones just yet. I needed more time. I loved feeling like myself and being “normal” again. I pleaded with Marc for one more month – just one more – and then we could go back and up our treatment if needed.
Like so many stories out there, we conceived Caleigh in January of 2015 – completely free of hormones. Whoever “they” are, they always say it happens when you aren’t expecting it (no pun intended). For us, this is exactly what happened. Without the pressure or stress of actively TRYING, Caleigh came into our lives. Everyone in my world told me, “Stop stressing, sweetheart. It’ll happen” but in my planned out life, this lesson wasn’t one I easily grasped or could even process. Now, when a friend expresses her well of sadness for not being pregnant despite trying, I search for the words to say. I think the best comfort I can bring is a back rub, a hug, and holding her while she cries. The words aren’t enough, even “I know” isn’t suitable because it’s not about me; it’s about the woman who feels incomplete and perhaps like a fraud.
So, sisters, I share this with you because there is HOPE. Nothing I say to you can ease your journey, but you are not alone. And however you get a child in your life – childbirth, surrogacy, adoption, fostering – it’s all motherhood.
I hope you’ll share your story with me and if you’ve made it this far, hit that big ole red button on your right. There are so many stories to come about the ups and downs of pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding (sweet Jesus, take the wheel). Thanks for reading and know that