When you’ve tried for years to get pregnant and stay pregnant, it’s a thrill get that positive pregnancy test. Each week that passes feels monumental as the life inside you continues to grow. You feel thankful and joyous and excited. It’s a beautiful time, for sure.
But pregnancy isn’t all glowy and angelic.
Any woman who’s carried a baby knows that there are hard parts about it, too. I spent the first 4 months of this pregnancy nauseous and vomiting in awkward and uncomfortable places. One time I threw up so violently I broke the capillaries in my neck and cheeks. I pee a little when I cough. My underwear cut into my hips and fall down (how these are possible at the same time is beyond me). If I’m not sitting up perfectly straight when I eat, I can feel the food in my stomach rising. There are tattoos I can no longer see. Some days I cry for no reason, and worry that’s I’m getting pre-post-partum depression. I have cankles and all my closed-toe shoes are too tight.
I could go on, but I don’t want to seem ungrateful.
You see, when you’ve been through infertility and miscarriage, you look forward to being pregnant with such mythical enthusiasm, you build it up to be something beyond wonderful. It will make everything you’ve gone through worth it, and you can finally move forward. You tell yourself you would never complain about being pregnant; after all, it’s a gift, a privilege! When you’re trying to conceive, it is physically painful to hear other women complaining about being pregnant. If they only knew how lucky they are!
But it’s not that simple.
Along with the classic discomforts of pregnancy, a woman who has lost a baby or babies also has to deal with something else. We face the cold reality that being pregnant does not mean the same thing as bringing home a baby.
Those first several weeks after getting a positive pregnancy test are both thrilling and terrifying. You dare to dream about your family with a new baby and everything that comes after. And yet you’re deeply worried things won’t work out the way you want them to. For months, every time I went to the bathroom I checked for blood. Every twinge, cramp, and ache made me worry that this was the beginning of the end.
That worry doesn’t go away.
This is my fourth pregnancy, and I know that concern will stay with me until I am holding this baby boy in my arms. It’s just a part of the journey for me. I’ve learned to manage those fears, and for me they have receded somewhat now that I’m nearing the end of my 2nd trimester. But they will always be there.
I try not to feel resentful and accept that those experiences have helped shape me, but the truth is I wish they hadn’t happened. I wish we had those babies in our family and that I never had to feel the unbearable ache of my heart actually breaking. Like anything painful in life, pregnancy loss is something that changes you. Time can make it hurt less, but it’s always a part of you. It colors your experience of everything having to do with pregnancy, birth, and babies. It just does.
All of this is to say that I am thrilled to be pregnant. It’s been a long journey for my partner and I to get to this point, and I’m thankful that we get the opportunity to parent another child. But it’s hasn’t been easy, and we will always feel the loss of the babies that didn’t make it.
And at the same time, it’s okay for me to complain about hemorrhoids and cankles. They suck.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. By writing this, I’m simply trying to share my experiences in the hope that it may help another woman or family.