Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Journey to Baby #2 – Part 2: Through the darkness and to the other side

After the miscarriage, it was a few months before I was ready to try again for Baby #2. I know this isn't everyone's experience, but I feel like I was able to move on pretty quickly. I think there are a few reasons: like I mentioned last time, I never really "felt pregnant", I loved the baby certainly, but I didn't feel that connected like I did with Kai. I also spent most of the day on that awful Saturday coming to terms with what was going to happen. And I was hopeful. The first two pregnancies had come relatively easily and I was still within my age plan for the whole thing. (everyone who has had a baby rolls their eyes at the idea of a plan for anything baby related)

Before I move on from the miscarriage I just want to note how little I knew about miscarriages before this. No one talks about them. For me, they had a stigma of someone with pregnancy problems, that they were uncommon. I haven't shared openly about my experience until now, but I did tell a fair number of close friends and, to my surprise, dozens of them shared their own miscarriage stories. I had no idea. It's common, really common. And not just for first pregnancies, as I found out. And it doesn't necessarily mean there will be a problem with the next pregnancy. In fact, doctors don't even blink about a miscarriage until you've had about 3.

That being said, I'm thankful that I hadn't gone and shared our pregnancy news with the world. At 11 weeks, it happened fairly late for me, but I think having to retract that kind of news would have made things that much harder.

Moving on to what came next. 

By October, I was ready to try again. When there was nothing happening after a couple months, I started to panic a little. Kai was going to be over 3 by the time we had the next one, if we ever did. I had a couple tests done, just to make sure the miscarriage hadn't caused any problems and everything was clear. The doctor just said that it can take up to a year even in the most healthy people. That didn't make me feel a whole lot better.

I started going to a naturopath and trying some natural solutions to help with ovulation, etc. I got an app on my phone to track everything. I bought ovulation tests in bulk and eventually pregnancy tests in bulk too. My once predictable cycle had gone a bit crazy and there was no pattern, so I was relying on testing.

Over the months that followed, I became increasingly stressed and less and less hopeful that this was going to happen. Throw in a pretty stressful move to a new town and I was a mess. I was exhausted and easily agitated and thinking of nothing else. Poor Kai probably got in trouble more times than he deserved and AJ, once again, wanted so badly to help, but couldn't.

It was not a good time for me. Feeling that way is awful, but worse is knowing how you're treating your family and not being able to stop yourself. They were so patient with me when I didn't deserve it and I will forever be thankful for how well AJ stuck by me. I had a couple good friends too who I would go to. One in particular who had had her own struggle with conception. Having a woman to talk to, who understood and could even voice my frustration and sadness was so helpful. She was able to give me something that AJ couldn't and I think he was grateful for that too.

After 10 months of nothing happening, my doctor sent me to an OB to see if there was something he could try. He gave me the same line - everything seems healthy and it hasn't quite been a year, which is not uncommon, even for the most healthy people. But he did suggest a medication that I could try that helps stimulate ovulation. I was willing to try.

I started the medication the next day, along with continuing naturopathic remedies and acupuncture.

6 weeks or so later, I finally got what I had been praying/hoping/wishing for for almost 11 months: 2 pink lines.

I didn't even both trying to make a surprise of it - I walked like a zombie into the kitchen where AJ was making Kai's breakfast, hands shaking and showed him the test. He didn't quite understand at first - is two lines good? After all, he hadn't taken dozens of tests over the past year. Wide-eyed, I told him it was good and he gave me the biggest hug and I could feel some of the anxiety melting away.

It didn't quite end that day of course. I took several more pregnancy tests that week and the next, just to be sure. I was constantly on alert for something to feel wrong or off. I was excited, but tentative. 

We told our parents at 8-weeks. AJ was leaving for school for a month in November and I needed the support. My mom cried, knowing what I had gone through to get there.

At 11-weeks I was still holding my breath, but feeling a bit better, knowing I had made it past that milestone.

My doctor was kind and booked a dating ultrasound even though I knew the date basically to the second thanks to my compulsive tracking. But seeing that ultrasound at 12 weeks - the little peanut baby moving around with a heartbeat did so much to ease my mind. As did every doctor's appointment listening to the heartbeat and especially the 20-week ultrasound.

Now, at just over 7 months, I'm feeling much less tentative. I don't think I'll stop worrying until I hold this baby boy in my arms, but every time I feel those kicks and tosses and turns (as uncomfortable as they make me sometimes), it's a reminder of what I've come through and how thankful I am that God has given us this second child. Every sciatic nerve spasm and moment of nausea is a blessing. Only 7 more weeks to go!

Unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, for me, was infinitely harder than a miscarriage, or delivering an 11 pound baby. It wrecked me emotionally and physically and relationally. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. 

I understand now how obnoxious it must have been to some people for me to say how easy it was to get pregnant with Kai. Every friend and acquaintance who posted a pregnancy announcement on Facebook during that year was like a knife in my heart. Several close friends and family members had babies and I had trouble being happy for them, much less snuggling their little ones. But I'm on the other side, and I know this joy I've finally received doesn't happen for everyone. I know plenty of people that have been trying for years and are still trying. Because of my experience, I can now empathize and be that friend who knows the words someone going through miscarriage or infertility needs to hear. And I think I'll do a better job and enjoying every moment with the new baby having taken a harder road to get there.

So my advice to anyone going through something similar - talk to someone. It doesn't need to be everyone - most people won't know what to say - but someone who has gone through it and come to a place where they've found hope again. Don't blame yourself. Give yourself permission to mourn every month, but don't wallow too long. Don't miss the life you have while you're dreaming about the one you want.


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