I’m sad that I couldn’t fully enjoy my pregnancy. Every milestone in pregnancy came not with celebration and relief but with immediate anxiety about whether I’d make it to the next milestone. I know many women can probably relate to this. In my case, it was because my six-year road to even get pregnant in the first place had been fraught…. and this is the sad reality of pregnancy after loss.
Throughout the whole 36 weeks and 6 days that I carried my twins, I was terrified. Especially at the beginning. I wouldn’t even really, truthfully acknowledge my pregnancy to myself until I was around 28 weeks. Of course I knew intellectually that I was pregnant. I was showing pretty early on and I felt movement and saw the ultrasounds, but at every point I expected the other shoe to drop. Plus I was “geriatric,” the ever-charming term given to pregnant women over 35 (sheesh, and you think Hollywood is tough!). So I had to see both a regular OB and a high-risk OB, and they both were not shy about listing off for me all the crappy things that could happen.
In many ways I was a regular ol’ preggers like any other ‘normal’ pregnant woman. For example, the cravings were cray. I needed (and I mean needed) pierogies in my first couple weeks of pregnancy. This alone should have been reassuring to me biologically that my body was working correctly. The pickles (cliche) and almond Snickers (boring) made sense. I had nausea and was beyond exhausted, so I stayed in bed whenever I wasn’t working, which, with my artist/non-traditional schedule at the time, was until 5pm some days. Meanwhile, I had the itchiest nipples you could imagine, which I never even knew was a thing. But, still, I constantly half-expected a phone call from a nurse telling me they had accidentally given me someone else’s results from the start.
In recording my podcast Maculate Conception with my husband, Isaac, I felt like I became a (self-appointed) voice for women everywhere who couldn’t have babies and didn’t have a space to talk about it. There are so many mom-podcasts, mom-blogs, and “here’s what to do with your kids this weekend” articles, but where was the place for brokenhearted people who want to be parents but aren’t? We wanted to provide support and solidarity for these couples.
We didn’t know of many infertility podcasts, in general, and none — other than ours — that document the process of what actually happens when you’re trying to make a baby and it’s not working. As we put our podcast together, we included our recorded doctors appointments, heartbreaking phone calls, and late night pillow talk, then wove it into some semblance of a “story.” Yet the story was just our life, and there’s something so odd about creating such a thing in real-time. Then in the middle of this we learned I was pregnant, which was the strangest juxtaposition because I felt so emphatically that we continue our podcast, but were we still the right people to do it? To put voice to these feelings? To tell our story? To represent this population?
So for all these reasons, my pregnancy and all its symptoms left me with an extra dose of survivor’s guilt. I still wanted to be a warrior for this under-served population of women and couples, and I felt almost uncomfortable telling folks in that community I was pregnant because I knew so well the twinge of pain they were feeling. I felt in some strange way that I was betraying them, like I’d been kicked off my team but to the team we all wanted to be on.
Isaac and I had so much anxiety about telling people. We were generally hyper-sensitive about sharing the news at all because we ourselves had felt heartache so many times at other peoples’ pregnancy announcements. Plus, I worried that if I did tell someone, I’d have to un-tell them if something went wrong. I noticed that when I did tell people, I felt the need to add the caveat that it had taken six years. I couldn’t let go of our backstory, and in some weird way felt that adding that tidbit alerted people that there may not be a happy ending after all, as if to pre-cushion the blow if something God awful did happen.
The one shining light through all my neuroses was that my body got on board for the long haul of the pregnancy. It finally got the memo to shore up and soldier through. Sure, I had placenta previa (PP), which is when the placenta is blocking the cervix, and I was told about all sorts of worst-case scenarios that could develop from this and require immediate long term bedrest, but, thankfully none came to be. I wasn’t allowed to exercise much (yay!), I couldn’t lift anything heavy (yipee!), and no sex (wait, what?). Yep, no sex for the whole pregnancy — it was a risk to to the placenta and therefore to the babies and me. Also, due to both the placenta previa AND the fact that I was having twins I was guaranteed a C-section, which is a story for another time but I had no qualms about it. After everything we’d been through, I wanted the safest of everything.
It was summer for the majority of my pregnancy, so it was classic SoCal hot and I didn’t feel like doing too much, but in the end, I was, thankfully, granted a physically uneventful pregnancy. Now that I’m done with it, I can’t fully wrap my head around that it happened. All that time prepping for it, all that time yearning for it, all that time worrying about it, and then it came and went almost in the blink of an eye. From what I hear, that’s not unlike parenting itself.