[A heads up that I will speak about our previous miscarriage, my past struggles with depression, and my honest thoughts on the pregnancy thus far.]
I am still very young at 25.5, and was younger still when I had our first miscarriage. It was a time when my depression was in a brittle and unstable place, when I was drinking and not taking good care of myself. And though it is hard to admit even to my husband today, I feel as though I let my baby down by not being my best. It was around 6.5 weeks when I found out, and a week later when I had my loss.
I still vividly remember the shock as I went through the motions of a miscarriage as though it wasn’t quite happening to me. Perhaps in a naive way I had thought I would be ‘normal’ and fine. It was a fresh bloom of fear that took over with the realization that this could be a struggle in the future, that I could be the problem. My husband, then boyfriend, wanted children. What if it would be an arduous process that would break us apart?
But it was all in the midst of my panic. My anxiety was getting out of control again and I knew the best I could do was take deep breaths and think of the good I had with me right then, a technique I used when ugly thoughts would creep into my mind throughout the day.
“Well, you were young so maybe it was a good thing.”
As I opened up about my experience over the next year, this was the most common thing I was told. And well, shit. Yes, I see your point and I understand that you meant well. But to someone who felt at the moment she saw the positive test that she was already part mother, it was like a bag of bricks to my face each time I heard those words. But as I thought about it, thought back to all the heart-breaking stories of mothers who struggled to ever get pregnant and to those who never did, I realized that no matter how monumentally tragic my moment had felt, that it could have been worse.
And whether that was the right or wrong way to think about it, it was how I began to cope as I returned to a life that seemed a bit duller than before. When I would see people walking through their day and couldn’t help but wonder if they were concealing something broken. It encouraged me to be kinder, more patient. That way, I could be kinder and more patient with myself.
This was back in 2013. Even before we got married December of 2015, my husband and I started trying ‘for real’ to get pregnant. We hadn’t used protection long before then, but this time, I would be as ready as possible. I started taking prenatals, calculating my ‘ideal times’, and reading up on tips both scientific and a little superstitious. Each month my cycle started was, in all honesty, a let down and growing ball of fear. I knew we had the IVF option through my husband’s insurance and that he would support the hell out of any necessary fertility treatments we might need. But like many women who wants to have children, I wanted it to be done naturally.
It was the morning of November 3rd when I woke up and thought, “Why not, I should be starting my period today. Why not check.” I grabbed a test, and went to the restroom. And then several minutes later I saw this:
I think my heart forgot to heart for a moment. I gasped, I stared long and hard, and I took a second test that also came out positive. I’d always wanted to wait and surprise my husband with a cute pregnancy reveal, but I was way too excited for that. I actually interrupted him mid-shower to show him the tests! I cried so much that day, and took two more tests to make sure it was real.
Later we found out that I was only 3 weeks and 4 days along when I took those tests. We didn’t wait to share the news. I knew week 13 was typically the ‘safe zone’ to tell friends and family, but in all honesty we knew it would never be safe. I wanted everyone to know and share the joy that we were experiencing despite any outcome.
And then the milestones began to pile up. At 8 weeks, I heard our beansprout’s heartbeat with the fetal Doppler machine. At 9 weeks it became a fetus. At 11 weeks we got our first ultrasound photos. Then we reached past and firmly into the second trimester and I began to let myself believe that carrying to full term was more and more of a possibility. The baby clothes and items started piling up and ideas for the nursery began to solidify.
You know when you finally get that one thing you’ve been wanting for a long time, whether it’s a scholarship, pair of boots, a job, long-awaited plane tickets? I felt the rush of it for weeks and still feel like I’m on cloud nine. It’s a cocktail of content, relief and nervous excitement I never knew I could feel before to this affect. And this is what I want to remember for future tantrums, fights, or moments when I know I will want to just put my head in my hands for hours.
Our first pregnancy will always be remembered. The thing about loss is that no matter what, a memory that is a scar can’t be ignored or covered up forever. There are times when I will be doing chores or having a conversation when the smallest trigger can bring up a pang in my chest or a moment of fear. No matter what stage you are at, something can always go wrong. But the good can’t come with some of the bad, and both can benefit us if we take the right lessons away from them. It is how we deal with the bad that shapes us, and helps ourselves become a stronger ‘me.’ Best wishes to the mama’s who struggle, who sacrifice, who fight.
Love, Jelly and Bean