In recent years pregnancy challenges have come to the forefront of social media, making it easier for women to share their stories. It has also made it harder though, because of the fear of having an emotion others may not find acceptable. Pregnancy stories, good or bad, come with an array of emotions that might not be expected or considered acceptable.
I’ve found it wasn’t always easy to share my pregnancy stories. I felt guilty for some of my emotions, and sometimes even ashamed and selfish. In fact, I was so ashamed of the emotions of my third pregnancy, that I never made a pregnancy announcement on social media, and hid my pregnancy from the general public until I was 20 weeks.
Our first child was well planned out. I had been taking birth control for over ten years, without allowing a complete cycle (no periods), to prevent further spread of endometriosis. I went off birth control six months in advance (a timeframe to align with my nursing school graduation) so my body could learn how to have a cycle again. And we got so lucky! We got pregnant without any intervention, and my due date was just two weeks after I graduated. After years of wanting a child, and feeling like a big piece of me had not yet come to be, this was an amazing gift! And, as destined, we had our baby boy two weeks after my graduation.
When J, our son, was 9 months old, we decided to start the process of trying for a second. My doctor knew that we were lucky to get pregnant naturally, and told us to try for 6 complete cycles before seeking assistance. We soon were wrapped up in the same cycle many couples fall victim to. We tracked ovulations, played waiting games, and were broken hearted with every negative pregnancy test. Every time I saw someone else’s pregnancy announcement, I felt incompetent and broken. Turns out I not only have Endometriosis, but PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which caused me to have irregular periods and ovulations that were too late to produce a healthy baby. So a year into trying we were put on a fertility treatment plan. We did three rounds of medicated, monitored and triggered cycles. This means I took hormones that produced follicles (beginning of eggs), then went in for multiple ultrasounds to track follicle progress, followed by a trigger injection that triggered ovulation. My husband even had his sperm tested to determine whether we needed to have further intervention, and luckily that was not the case. After three medicated cycles, and a total of 18 months of trying, we finally got pregnant with our second child. We were so elated! And we were terrified something could go wrong. I felt so grateful we could have a second, and I felt horrible because i knew there were many families out there still unable to get pregnant with a first. We held our breaths, it seemed, the entire pregnancy. And we had a beautiful baby girl.
Emotions around pregnancy, needless to say, were intense for both my husband and I. After our second was born, we initially kept the conversation open about having a third, though neither of us wanted to go through the pain and stress of infertility again. We finally made a decision to only have two children, and devote our time to giving J and A everything they needed. I was ready to move past the infant stage of life, and have the ability to loosen the reins with our children and foster some of my independence to embrace some of my personal identity again.
Then, one morning, about 50 days into yet another one of my irregular cycles, I sat in the bathroom crying over a positive pregnancy test. Unlike the previous two pregnancies, these were not happy tears. I did not want to be pregnant. I did not think I could get pregnant without medical intervention. I was shocked! And my husband felt very much like I did.
The emotions of our pregnancies spanned from the bliss of getting pregnant after years of consciously waiting, to experiencing infertility and being so terrified and so ecstatic to finally be pregnant, to feeling overwhelmed and not wanting to have another child. This is my brutal honesty. It was very hard for us to comprehend such a shift in emotions when we fought so hard for our other pregnancies. And I felt horrible for feeling the way I did, and so undeserving of another child.
Fate had another plan for us, a different plan than we had. And when we had our third child, B, our hearts felt complete! He was a gift we never knew we needed in our lives, and we are so thankful life works in unexpected ways.
What I am hear to say today is that it is okay to have whatever feeling you have about pregnancy. Pregnancy is hard, and it is full of hormonal shifts that can make you feel different than you ever expected to feel.
It is okay to be excited and share your excitement of pregnancy with the world.
It is okay to experience the pain of infertility, and you should share this and have support for a struggle that is so very hard.
It is okay to share of the loss of a pregnancy, and to share whatever emotions accompany such a loss.
And it is okay to feel sad or indifferent about being pregnant. It is okay to talk to people about this, because it is also hard to go through, and searching for acceptance can take a while.
No matter what your situation, and no matter what you feel, know that you are not alone! And know that it is okay to reach out to others and share your journey. Be brave Mama! Because it is all real, and you deserve the support and love you need!