Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pregnancy after Infertility

Pregnancy after Infertility was a very surreal experience for me. I had had one loss early on, and had met many other women who had miscarried or had stillbirths as I sought out support for our journey, and the thought that nothing was guaranteed for 9+ months scared. me. to. death. I can honestly say I savored every moment, because every moment I also had the lingering thought that it could be the last one.

I was spared a lot of worry because my clinic was not extremely intervention happy if there was no indication for testing. I had a light but positive home pregnancy test 6 days after a 5 day transfer (if I remember correctly), and an HcG (blood test) that registered in the 70's 9 days after transfer. The level was 78? Maybe? Most clinics will do a second blood test 48 hours later, and sometimes even a third 48 hours after that, but mine didn't as long as the number was "high enough," and mine was high enough for them.

At 7 weeks, I had an ultrasound, which happened to coincide with an episode of bleeding, so seeing the heartbeat on that screen was the best feeling in the world after the worst morning I could have imagined. Hannah was measuring about a week behind at that point, so I went in again at 8 weeks and she was growing just fine. I think I cried on the table. I could have had an ultrasound every week if I had wanted, but my clinic was fine with me not doing so too, so I didn't make the hour and a quarter drive after that.

I continued taking progesterone shots/ suppositories (we used the progesterone in oil up so as to maximize our investment- that stuff's expensive!) until 11 weeks, and then I was released from the Reproductive Endocrinologist's care. I was just... pregnant! And low risk at that. I called a midwife, and started normal care.

But I didn't feel normal. The infertility feelings didn't go away. We took a picture every week, and every week I wondered if that would be the last one. I blushed and changed the subject when people would comment on my pregnancy. I felt that I was not allowed to experience negative emotions regarding or complain about the discomforts of morning sickness or exhaustion. I didn't prep a nursery. I wanted to run away when the time came to register for baby items, and I was intensely uncomfortable at my own baby shower.

Don't misunderstand, I was certainly overwhelmingly grateful, but I was not overwhelmingly happy. I wouldn't say I was fearful, but my emotions were definitely reserved. I remembered what it was like to be naively excited and optimistic before I experienced the loss of a baby, and those feelings did not resurrect themselves after 3 years of grief in not getting pregnant again.

Every woman experiences this differently. A lot of my situation, I believe, stems from my naturally introverted personality. Some women are nothing but excited after years of trying, but I have also met several others, like me, for whom pregnancy after infertility is a very private and protective experience. I have since learned that infertility can predispose a woman to pregnancy and post-partum depression, neither of which I experienced, but I can definitely see why this would be true.

Once I was in the third trimester, I began to get a little bit of that excitement that seems to be expected. A friend of ours, who was a budding photographer, gave us a photo shoot, and those are some of the best memories I have of that sweet and special time. She perfectly captured the intimacy and preciousness of how I felt savoring the life inside me. I'll end by sharing a few of my favorites.