At the age of 15, a giant
scam literary company selected my poem for publication. Young, impressionable me felt honored beyond belief. As a real-life published author, my work appeared in A Delicate Balance: an enormous book, containing about 10 poems a page. I paid $50 (or something ridiculous) to see my tiny, four stanza poem “I Don’t Get it,” oh so appropriately titled and riddled with teenage angst, squeezed near the bottom of a page with other pathetic excuses for poetry. And I felt so proud.
Here I am again, not overpaying (entirely) or being smushed together with others in the same boat, but thrilled for a chance which feels like the chance of a lifetime. Pregnancy is a delicate balance for sure. You are so excited and scared and thrilled and overwhelmed with what is to come. Not to mention the hormones. But pregnancy after loss is like walking a tightrope, twenty stories high in the air, taking each step so gingerly and doing whatever you can not to fall (lots of flailing arms). However, you know if you fall there will still be a giant pillow of comfort waiting for you should you need it. It’s just the falling which sucks, and the fear of heights.
Initially, this pregnancy was the utmost scariest thing I had ever done in my life, hands down. I took a pregnancy test on a whim at 10 days past ovulation (dpo). When you track your cycles like a sleuth, you know the earliest possible date to test. Mike was out doing something and I found one of my early home pregnancy tests – the kind that can measure as low as 10 mIU/ml of hcg (pregnancy hormone). I followed the directions then set it down and promised myself not to watch it. After months of negatives I felt prepared for another. What felt like 2 minutes later I allowed a quick glance and saw no line, so I did what any normal TTC woman does: I took a picture of it and then applied a mass variety of filters and tweaks until when I glanced back at the actual test again there really was a faint second line. I think women innocent to loss (again, I am only guessing here) or those not surprised by the results start jumping up and down and screaming and showing their husband. Not me. I started shaking, half from disbelief and half out of fear.
The next day I contacted my midwife practice and OB (two is better than one, no?) and practically demanded a beta test. Then I waited and worried 24 hours for the results, which were a booming 53 (anything over 25 indicates pregnancy ). Even this did not excited me, mostly because my thyroid levels were also elevated which can cause early losses. More importantly than an initial number, we needed to see those numbers rise. My midwife told me I needed to eat more fish for iodine supplementation and reminded me not to do my second beta until a week after the first. Calm me listened while crazy me wanted to get the next test done right away, and begged my OB to prescribe me thyroid medication (which she did). Somewhere during this time Mike’s birthday fell and I surprised him with the news. There’s something about sharing good news (video link, language NSFW) and celebrating it which makes things less scary.
The next beta rang in appropriately at 600 and things seemed to be progressing, as I waited so hopeful for pregnancy symptoms to start kicking my ass. This pregnancy for me exists as a chance to relish every moment, enjoy every bout of nausea, and take each symptom as bit of reassurance. In the beginning, there were a lot of tears, a ton of fear, and anxiety which meant I woke up every morning around 4 am for about an hour. I know pregnant women need to minimize stress for the sake of the baby, but that is near impossible for a PAL survivor. Thank everything for my husband, my therapist, my community of TTC sisters, and my cat. Without that team of support in early pregnancy, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today.
But if you fast forward to finally seeing the heart beat (holy amazing, wonderful sight!), having a perfect NT scan, and continuing to have boring, normal appointments, you get where I am today: in a pretty good place, for the most part. In fact, I think I only worry about 10% of the time now. Sure, “what ifs” creep in, but we are managing to keep our heads up high with smiles that come naturally. Sometimes I whisper, “we’re having a baby!” to myself and well up with tears from sheer joy. I allow myself to wander the baby aisle of Target and even started the foundations of a registry. But the best way for me to keep enjoying every moment is to surround myself with people who uplift me. Worry and concern have no place here.
The first eight weeks of this pregnancy were a delicate balance of putting one foot in front of the other blindly with false confidence while trying not to loose it. There were many days I plain forgot I was pregnant, and was just fine that way. It’s easier to let time pass while holding onto hope everything is moving forward as necessary. And you know what? It was and is, which is such a rarity to me that I almost don’t believe it.
Fifteen year old me might not have entirely understood the way the world works, or what it had in store for me, but got one thing right when she wrote the poem “I Don’t Get it.” This world is a confusing place and things happen which make little sense. The only way to get by, is to get through.