Thursday, February 4, 2016

A dream is a wish your heart makes...

Today I am 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I've been putting on a brave face, but in truth every muscle and joint and ligament and ounce of of my freaking being is uncomfortable. The thing is, I realize that less than a year ago I would have given ANYTHING to be in this position. And I realize that this is the last time I'll ever be doing this. And so, I'm trying to relish every ache and every pain and every trip to the bathroom every 10 freaking minutes - because I wished for this. I hoped for this. I prayed for this. And here I am. In reflection, I wanted to tell this story for the life we're about to welcome into the world. Because I'm uncomfortable - but dang it, I'm so happy.

-----

"It started out as a feeling which then grew into a hope
Which then grew into a quiet thought which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder until it was a battle cry..."
- The Call; Regina Spektor


At the beginning of 2015, I made a secret Pinterest board that was dedicated solely to ideas for announcing a pregnancy at Disney World. It's a notion that makes me cringe even today, but it's true. My husband and I had long ago decided that we wanted our last vacation as a family of 3 to be taken at Disney World.

I have a habit of getting WAY ahead of myself when it comes to planning and given that we were planning to start trying for another baby at the beginning of the year, the timing seemed perfect.

Six years ago, when we found out we were pregnant for the first time, I learned nothing about my reproductive health in the process. For all intents and purposes, we got pregnant accidentally on purpose after one month of trying. It's a blessing, one that I do not take for granted (especially now), but it was unfair. It's unrealistic. It set me up for what would end up being 6 months of sadness and disappointment and above all - confusion.

But, first - Disney World.

Upon packing for the trip we had planned for for months, I realized that I would be able to take a test around the fourth day of our trip there and was sure it would be the most magical positive pregnancy test anyone had ever peed on. I thought of fun ways for us to secretly announce our pregnancy through photographs while at Disney World to share with our families when we returned. I was excited for the trip, yes, but I think I was more excited about what the trip would mean for us.

I remember taking the resort transit to Hollywood Studios on our second day of the trip and suddenly being overcome with nausea. The kind that only exists in the first trimester. I can't even describe the elation I felt at this sudden and inexplicable urge to vomit. I had never been more sure that I was pregnant.

We arrived early at our brunch reservations the next day and while waiting for our table, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. And that's when I saw I had my period.

In my bag, I had packed six different pregnancy tests.
And four tampons.

I walked out of the bathroom with tears threatening to spill down my face. I don't even think I had to say the words to my husband. I think he knew. And he tried to hide it, but I saw the disappointment I was feeling mirrored in his expression. We both decided not to discuss it and to try to just enjoy the trip.

We spent the rest of that day at Epcot. I drank a beer in every country that day. Partially because I could. But, mostly because I was numbing the pain. There was so much self blame. I wanted to space out my pregnancies. It had always been the right decision for our family and now I was filled with so much doubt. Truly, this was one thing I felt like I (personally) was born to do - and I was failing at it. Quite frankly, I felt broken.

The next day, while waiting in a very long line at the Magic Kingdom, I did the thing you should never do when you're panicking about a possible medical problem - I Google'd.

However, the great thing about relying on Dr. Google when it comes to fears about your fertility, is that sometimes you stumble upon a community forum that tells you you are absolutely insane. It was there that I learned facts that sustained me for the failed cycles that would follow. It was there that I learned I was not even close to infertile - just uninformed and impatient.

I learned that it can take up to a year for a healthy couple to conceive.
I learned that a couple only has a 20% chance of conceiving every month.
I learned that I had expected to get pregnant in a fraction of the time that many couples out there have been trying (and some with varied levels of medical intervention).
I learned that accidental pregnancies are pretty much mathematically improbable.
I learned that most pregnancies (including my own previous pregnancy) are pretty much mathematically improbable.

I felt like an idiot. Little Miss "I got pregnant after one month of trying, what's wrong with me now?" really got a dose of her own medicine. I read post after post after post after post of women struggling with fertility, women starting IVF, women who knew so much more about this stuff than I ever bothered to learn. It was like I had fallen asleep in health class in middle school and suddenly woke up at 31 and decided to pay attention.

So, I read. And I learned. I found solace in a community full of women who understood what I was going through.

Who would listen when a very pregnant person complained to me about her pregnancy while I was hoping so desperately to be in her shoes.
Who would sympathize when I was asked over and over again when we were finally going to have another kid.
Who would understand when every pregnancy announcement was like a punch in my (empty) gut.

Even though I was now armed with the knowledge that our timeline was completely normal, I felt less normal as every non-pregnant day went on. I discovered through various tracking methods that sometimes I ovulated and sometimes I didn't. My body just doesn't see it to be a necessary process every month. The birth control pills which had regulated my cycles for years were finally out of my system and in response, my system had no idea what to do with itself.

I put in a call with my OB/GYN for an appointment to discuss my concerns. The nurse I spoke to was very reassuring and sweet and told me that I should give it one more irregular cycle before I made an appointment.

That cycle never came.

And one afternoon, motivated by some sweet women on a board which had become my safe haven for sharing my obsessive charting who saw my chart and told me I would be crazy to not pee on a stick that afternoon, I stopped by a store and bought a pregnancy test.

I was on the way home from our second annual musical and still feeling elated from watching our students and their triumphant performance. I didn't want to ruin that feeling with another disappointment, but I just had to know.

I remember closing the door to the bathroom and standing outside of it. I had seen so many negative tests already. I just didn't want to see another one turn right in front of my eyes.

I cautiously approached the test the way one would approach a live wire. Convinced it would be another disappointment.

But it was positive. I was finally pregnant.
And no, it wasn't Disney World - but it was still magical.


I'm sharing this story here because I am certain there are people out there who, like me, don't understand the reality of fertility. Who think pregnancy is a right rather than a privilege. Who perhaps have never felt the pain of this struggle. Who have felt the pain of this struggle and are glad to hear someone break the silence that surrounds infertility. I was never one to approach people about their plans for procreation - I find that to be a highly personal decision and I never wanted to accidentally harm someone who was unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant.

However, I also never applied those same principles to myself. I approached myself over and over saying "Why aren't you pregnant yet, Amanda?" and it was a very painful and scary time. It didn't have to be. It just took a little bit of self help and education.

And now here I am - 3 days before I'm due with this little man. All I can feel is grateful that I didn't allow the fear and judgment and disappointment keep me from the magic I've wanted for so long.




"Now we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling that no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too, doesn't mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
Until they're before your eyes..."

9 comments:

  1. Maybe you could remove from your 'about me' the insensitive mention of an elite society only for mothers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is my second attempt at this reply, so if my other one shows up later, I apologize.

      I wanted to comment to you and suggest you read the rest of this blog from the beginning. Or don't. But, urge you to take the advice... Seek first to understand then to be understood.

      Or maybe just don't use such harsh words such as "insensitive" when you're responding anonymously to someone's extremely personal blog about their experiences with infertility.

      As a brief explanation--- I am a non-mother. By choice so far. And, I still read this blog regularly, because I believe it is excellent insight on the struggles and tribulations of motherhood and the judgements new-mothers and even more- experienced-mothers face every single day from other mothers and even non-mothers. And, oh-by-the-way, the struggles non-mothers face when trying to conceive, and constantly being badgered by friends and family, and even complete strangers, about when they are going to have kids, whether or not they are trying to have children currently or are choosing not to have children yet.

      So this "elite" group of mothers she is referring to, when she originally began writing this blog started with the perfect moms,...the put together moms, the moms that have it all together--who's kids are seemingly perfectly behaved and seemingly have the perfect life and somehow make other moms feel terrible about themselves either intentionally or unintentionally, and expands into the older generation who constantly want to tell new moms why they're doing things incorrectly and why their way when we were raised was better or "didn't hurt us" "or we turned out fine".

      To me, as this new mom began trying for her second, and it didn't happen as quickly as she would've hoped, whether or not she meant it that way, that "elite" group almost expanded into that mom that tries once and gets pregnant immediately.

      Of course she doesn't wish fertility struggles on any other mom. Nor does she wish misbehaved children or any other struggles on another mother. She is just blogging about the insecurities and personal struggles she has as a mom.

      And guess what? All moms have them. Even the most seemingly put together ones. I don't have children and I know that. And THIS blog has helped me to understand that and to be a better friend and be more sensiitive to those struggling with fertility. I have also learned to be more understanding of my friends with children and the struggles they're facing, and to find humor in it WITH them.
      And, oh by the way, TO BE LESS JUDGEMENTAL of other moms and non-moms.

      So, I urge you to read the whole blog. Or don't but do me (and other readers) a favor--- don't make this "new mom" (on the blog) start questioning herself more than she already does. She's already written a whole blog about her insecurities and put herself out there enough for all of us to be entertained and enlightened by it.

      Thanks,

      Signed--- someone who has learned everything I know from her and known her my entire life. Literally.

      Delete
  2. Hi there.
    This is the first comment on my blog for a really long time, so pardon me if I'm a little rusty on this.

    You referenced a needed update to a small "About me" section that appears on the front page of my blog. It's clear that you want to get to know a little bit "about me," and even though I have more than 5 years of material, you chose to focus on a single word in a small paragraph on my home page. I guess no one ever told you not to judge a book by its cover.

    Since you couldn't be bothered to learn more, allow me to do the work for you. My current full "About me" page is loaded with inaccuracies so I should probably fix those as well, no? Check out my parenthetical comments below.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "About me...
      Welcome.

      I'm the New Mom on the Blog. I've always been an avid reader of various blogs, but never really had inspiration to write my own.

      Then, I had a kid.
      Now I'm finding inspiration every day. (I actually have two kids now and inspiration has never been farther away. I suffer from postpartum depression and in addition to my normal joy and thirst for life, PPD has also robbed me of my creativity and ability to formulate a sentence. It's a daily struggle, but with the help of medication and support from my family/friends, I'm finding my voice again.)

      I have to be honest and say that sometimes I go through mad blogging spurts where I'm posting several times a week. One time I went almost three weeks without blogging anything. Bare with me. I'm still getting used to this. (As you can see, I'm in a lull right now. Clearly, I can't be bothered to update my page to accurately reflect my struggles with infertility and those of everyone else who has ever struggled.)


      Here are some things you should know about me:

      I'm in my 20s (I actually turned 32 in December.)
      I got married in the Fall of 2008 and had my first baby in the Summer of 2010, I refer to that baby as The Incredible Hulk (TIH). If you met him, you'd know why. (I haven't called my son this in years. He actually turned into quite the bean pole.)
      I'm incredibly sarcastic. (Less sarcastic now that I am focusing on being more genuine with people I know.)
      Most people who have read my blog tell me that I write exactly how I talk. I guess that's good. For better, or for grammatically worse.

      Delete
    2. I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to blogging. Sometimes the posts that I think are terrible end up being my most popular ones. (I now write only for me, so I have no idea if this is true or not.)
      I can't decide if I want to curse on my blog or not. My grandmother reads my blog. Sometimes I censor myself for her. Sometimes I don't. (I have an entire post about working on my cursing after my son started repeating the words. I know you didn't read that, so I figured I'd give you the Cliff's Notes.)
      I'm a music therapist and spent an important and long portion of my career in the mental health field which is why sometimes I use weird therapy terms and why music is such a prevalent thing on this blog. My blog used to play music, but I thought it got annoying (and it was all of my favorite songs) so I removed it. Leave me a comment if you would like to know some of the songs featured on here when there was a music player. (I actually was promoted last year and haven't touched a guitar in so long I've lost my calluses. Strangely, it feels very natural. I actually wrote about this too, but you didn't read that, did you?)
      All of my blog posts have song lyrics as the title. So, "Glitter and be gay..." is a funny and embarrassing story, but the lyrics have nothing to do with anything. Except for they say "glitter."
      I try to write back to all of my comments. And since about five people have ever commented in the history of this blog, I'll probably be able to stay true to it. (Definitely still writing back, since you never know when someone wants to know more "about you.")
      I love reality shows. I realized the other day that I had a different Bravo show TiVo'd on every night except for Friday/Saturday. Most of them were of the Real Housewives franchise. (Okay. This is still true.)
      I'm a huge musical theatre nerd. Huge. Not like "flash mob" huge, but pretty close.
      I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love social media and hate how impersonal it has made us. I love reading mommy blogs and hate how the comment threads often become passive aggressive little tiffs between the breastfeeders/non-breastfeeders/non-vaccination/vaccination people. I want to get an awesome camera and I will probably have no idea how to use it. But because of my love/hate technology there will almost always be issues with this website, my Facebook page, and whatever else goes into being a blogger. You can feel free to tell me about issues you're seeing with the caveat that I will likely have no idea of how to fix them. (You, dear Anonymous are EXACTLY why I hate the Internet, actually.)
      Have I scared you off? (Gosh, I hope so.)
      Good. (Really.)

      Happy reading." (Well, we all know you didn't do that, so I guess I should remove that too.)

      Delete
  3. The word "elite" and the definition that surrounds refers to a select group of people who are considered superior in someway. The word cannot more accurately describe how
    I felt when I became a mother. Not because I thought I was superior, but because I actually felt like a fraud. At the beginning of my son's life, I felt so sad and inferior, it was as though I had "snuck" into motherhood and was constantly waiting for someone to kick me out. I have never felt like such an outsider. Like I fooled everyone into thinking I wasn't a giant failure. Elite seemed like the right word. But again, PPD was clouding my thoughts a lot, so maybe I could have been more succinct.

    And then, when I experienced everything I went through in this post (a very devastating and personal time that I'm really glad you've decided to bastardize with semantics - oh look, I can be sarcastic still) I felt as though I was begging to be let back into the pregnancy club and the word "elite" felt more true than ever.

    You could have read a little deeper on this blog and learned a lot, but writing your Anonymous comment was easier. It's very easy to hide behind the Internet and say the things you can't say to anyone's face (I should know, I'm a blogger), but I caution you in the future to try a little harder.

    I've featured infertility in many ways on this blog as I have many friends who have been touched by it. If you'd ask them they would be taken aback by the use of the word "insensitive" anywhere near me. It's so far from the truth it's laughable. In fact, I'm so "sensitive" I am quite sure this comment will stick with me for weeks while I continue to tread the deep waters of PPD and doubt myself left and right.

    But that's okay.
    Because now you know a little bit more "About me."

    ReplyDelete
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