Monthly Archives: May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011


First, an update.  We had our first ultrasound last week and saw one tiny, perfect, fluttering heartbeat.  Words cannot express the relief, the disbelief, and the joy.
For my next trick, I’m going to share some deep, dark secrets that I would otherwise wish to keep to myself.  But because the whole purpose of this blog is to be transparent about the process of trying to conceive and surviving obstacles on the way, I feel it is my obligation to be real with you about everything that happens, good and bad.
Here they are:  I’m not 100% excited to be pregnant.  I am very insecure.  And I am terrified that I’m going to let everyone down.  Let me explain….
Thinking about the little miracle growing inside me and those moments when I feel and really believe that I am pregnant, I am 100% happy.  It’s all I’ve wanted for most of my life, and all I’ve strived for in the last 2 years.  But as much as I wish I could be, I’m not just happy and excited.  I’m very anxious.  I’m very uncertain.  Every time someone congratulates me, I find myself saying things like “it’s still very early” and “we’re very hopeful.”  Why do I do that?  Who am I trying to protect? 
I also thought that I would embrace the life of a pregnant woman and never look back, once I finally got here.  But I find myself on the phone to my sister daily, asking is it okay if I ate a grilled cheese sandwich followed by 3 slices of bread with butter?  Am I a deadbeat wife because I haven’t had the energy to grocery shop let alone cook for 2 weeks now?  Am I going to be a terrible mother because I cannot force myself to eat a salad today?  What I’m really asking is, am I screwing this up?  Will I look back and hate myself for not doing better for my little one while I had the chance?
And I’m afraid.  This might be the silliest one.  I’m afraid of letting you down.  All you wonderful friends and family who have been pulling for me and praying for me and are now celebrating with me.  I’m afraid to lose this baby and disappoint you all.  I feel a little freaked out by all the people who are acting as if I’m going to have a baby.  My sister bought me two car seats already.  My sister-in-law gave me all her books and maternity clothes.  I think to myself, “They really believe that I’m pregnant.  What’s more, they don’t seem to have any doubt that I’ll end up with a baby in 9 months.”  Are they crazy, or am I?  (The answer is, obviously, I am.)
I think the solution is time.  And some good self-reflection.  I am a work in progress, you know.  Whether it’s my past trauma or history of self-doubt, I am working to heal from it, gain confidence, and grow into the woman, wife and mother I want to be.  I know I’ll get there — one clumsy, imperfect step at a time.  Be patient with me, and please keep cheering me on.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Faith and nausea

My new fertility acupuncturist recently suggested that I have post-traumatic stress disorder, and it was oddly relieving to hear.  It validates my experience and makes me feel a little less crazy, somehow, for my extreme reactions to the things I’m most afraid of.  (Now, for my fellow social workers – would I officially fit the DSM-IV diagnosis for PTSD?  Maybe not.  But it is the most accurate description that I can come up with for my neurosis, so go with it.)  Experiences or emotions that bring me back to the traumatic event of losing my first baby hit me harder than they would a normal, unscarred pregnant woman.  For example, the day I learned I was pregnant (this time), I started spotting for several hours — and it sent me into a tailspin.  I was certain that just as quickly as I’d gotten relief and felt the joy, it was being ripped away from me.  And then the spotting resolved, and hasn’t come back.

This week, I was going along just fine, feeling slightly tired and occasional waves of nausea.  Not much, but a couple times a day, I’d get a comforting reminder that things were happening inside.  And then it stopped.  For two days, nothing.  I felt completely normal, completely un-pregnant, and so I melted down.  I sobbed my way through Thursday.  On the phone with my best friend, with my co-worker, and again on the phone with my doctor’s office (who told me what I logically knew – pregnancy symptoms come and go and are not a reliable indicator of what’s going on with your baby).  I couldn’t help but think the worst.  I couldn’t help but envision going into the doctor’s office and looking at the ultrasound holding John’s hand.  Waiting for a heartbeat, but seeing nothing.  It happened before.  And now, the fear of reliving that grief consumed me.  I could not release myself from its grip on my heart.

Searching for peace, I was reminded of a Bible verse that says (depending on which version you’re referencing):  Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists. 

What we cannot see exists.  Isn’t that the mystery of pregnancy?  There is a magical, miniscule process that happens in the depths of our body, and we are not a witness to it.  We cannot feel it, cannot see it for so long.  Awesome things are happening, moment by moment, and we just have to believe that it exists.  We are left to our faith.

I just don’t know why faith is so hard for me.  Is it the control issues again?  The unrelenting, underlying fear of being broken by pain?  Do I not believe that I deserve good things?  I want so much to savor this pregnancy.  To not wish it away by yearning for the next stage or the next ultrasound.  Because that’s about me and my neurosis.  Needing to be reassured by what I can see or feel or know.  Instead it should be about becoming a mother who lives with peace, serenity and trust.  Perhaps it’s not pain and suffering, but getting just what I’ve always wanted, that will be the greatest test of my faith. 

By the way – my prayers were answered and my nausea has returned full force.  I’d say it’s a lesson to be careful what you wish for, but I can’t pretend that feeling awful doesn’t make me feel much better.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Looking in the mirror

My assumption is that a woman who does not or has not struggled with body image is the exception to the rule. (And if that is you – cheers!)  As for myself, although I have always been healthy and never more than few pounds overweight, body image has been a focus and a battle throughout my adolescent and adult life.  I could write a book on everything I put myself through up to the point we started trying to conceive 2 years ago – the constant scrutiny, multitude of diets, intense workout plans, personal trainers, comparing myself to my much thinner sister, indulging then sacrificing and all the while blaming my lack of self discipline.  But there is nothing like trying to conceive to mess with your body image once and for all.  Fortunately, my story has a happy ending.
The books I read and the advice I was given said that intense or excessive exercise can impede fertility.  So, after a few unsuccessful months of trying, I cut down my running and exercise routine.  I realized, reluctantly, that I would have to loosen my grip on how my body looked in order to make it a healthy place for a baby to make its home.  I started eating full fat dairy and stopped counting calories.  I ordered cheeseburgers without shame.  As a result, of course, I gained some weight.  But the reward was quick and I became pregnant in October 2009.  At that point, the goal of my eating was no longer staying fit and trim, it was about combating nausea, avoiding “dangerous” foods and giving my baby the important nutrients it needed.  I embraced my little growing belly.
In a future post I plan to expand more fully on the story of my miscarriage.  But for now I will just say that I lost the baby at about 7 weeks.  It was the second most devastating experience of my life.  But here’s one side effect of miscarriage that I did not expect:  the happy weight I’d gained did not go away.  The terrible breakouts did not quickly subside.  I still had all the physical side effects of being pregnant, but I was no longer pregnant. 
I hated my body.  Not only did I feel let down in the most primal of ways, but I also couldn’t stand the way I looked.  Every negative thought I ever had about myself and my looks rose to the surface.  I cursed myself every time I looked in the mirror and every time I stepped on the scale.  I made myself a New Year’s resolution to work out every day for 2 weeks and eat a strict diet.  My hope was to make my weight loss quick and dramatic and, once I was back down to my previous weight, I would feel better.  Do you know what happened?  I did it, and I did not lose one pound.  Not one.
The many months that followed taught me the very tough lesson of letting go.  I mentioned previously that I have some “control issues,” and those contributed greatly to the difficulty I had in accepting myself and my situation, rather than fighting it.  It was a two steps forward, one step back kind of journey.  For a year.  I did eventually come to peace, though, and there were several things that helped me do it.  None more important than the unwavering support and adoration of my husband.  He told me daily that I was beautiful – even on the days when I really wasn’t.  I started doing fertility yoga and getting in tune with the workings of my body.  I learned to respect it, to honor it and to appreciate it.
And now I begin a new chapter.  For those who’ve read this far hoping I would reveal the result of my first IVF attempt – thank you.  Your support has been indescribably important to me as I’ve endured the excruciating wait.  And the happy news is that I am pregnant.  Five weeks today.  I feel excited and fearful and anxious and hopeful.  I have been here before, after all.  I know that we are still in the thick of the woods, and it will be some time before we are out.  But I am going to trust and love my body in the meantime.  I am going to be thankful for what it has accomplished and faithful about what it will do next.