Today I am 5 weeks, 1 day pregnant. And today we find out the results of my blood work from Friday and Sunday to see if this pregnancy is viable. It’s a scary thing, being pregnant. And I had a conversation with my therapist about how couples decide to keep it a secret until they are out of the first trimester, and how even books and forums encourage this secrecy (which is fine – I support the decision that is best for each couple), but for me, for my husband, this secrecy breeds isolation, it breeds shame around miscarriages – which are SO common – and I understand why they encourage this quiet, because it can be such an emotional time and you need space, but it also sets expectations, expectations that you could, perhaps, miscarry, and that’s important to understand, but my therapist agrees (and therapists are always right, right?): it is time to speak (at least for me).
In July, the doctors (I went to a few) believe I had a chemical pregnancy, which means the fertilized egg did not complete implantation. And did you know that 75% of miscarriages are chemical pregnancies? I didn’t even know what a chemical pregnancy was. It seems that I have spent so much of my life ignoring my reproductive organs, pretending they don’t exist, pleading – please don’t get pregnant, please don’t get pregnant – that now that we are ready for a child, this new world is opening up to me. But it isn’t really opening up. I need to pry it open. Do the research. Learn about women’s bodies, men’s sperm – so much to learn! So why don’t we talk about it? I had a conversation with friends the other weekend about sperm, and how – did you know that using lubricant can drown the little spermies and end their quest to fertilize a woman’s egg? We didn’t. But we learned, trial by error. And our friends squirmed in their seats, the man saying, “Eww.” Because talking about reproduction is weird.
But we should talk about it.
Because I thought I was crazy in July. I thought I was making all of the symptoms up in my head, creating nausea and tender breasts, my husband said my lips became swollen and my cheeks glowed, because people say most women don’t know they are pregnant and have a chemical pregnancy without knowing. But guess what? My body feels EVERYTHING. I knew immediately. But it got into my head – this being crazy.
Roll around to September. My husband said my lips were swollen again, cheeks glowing. I was feeling my body changing, but I told myself not to pay attention (the chemical pregnancy wasn’t confirmed because symptoms stopped before I could get a positive pregnancy test, so it’s possible my mind is a strong, strong thing and created it all), that I would ignore the symptoms until I got a positive pregnancy test. And even when I did, when 5 tests turned positive, I lined them all up and said to my husband, “See? I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy, right? There are two lines here. Two.” “Yes,” he said. “I see them. You aren’t crazy.” But as I sit here, bleeding, waiting for these blood tests, I’m expecting the doctor to call and say, “Your blood doesn’t have any HCG levels at all.”
So why do we do this? Because I know I’m not alone. A dear friend miscarried and her husband had to tell the doctor to look his wife in the face and tell her that she was pregnant, that she didn’t make it up, because as she sat in the doctor’s office she was thinking to herself, “Did I just create an entire pregnancy up?” No. No she did not.
Let’s talk about it.
On the flip-side, the doctor could call and tell me that my HCG levels have dropped, and this pregnancy isn’t viable (then I’m not crazy, but I’m miscarrying – worse). OR the doctor could tell me I’m just fine, that the levels are increasing and it looks like a viable pregnancy.
But here’s the thing: my symptoms are confusing. This pregnancy thing is confusing. I have been spotting since last Sunday. Brown blood at first. Then bright red. Heavier these last couple days. And so my husband and I took to the internet, gobbled up question and answer forums trying to find some comfort in other people’s stories, other people’s experiences and this is what we found: each pregnancy is different – some women bleed and it turns out just fine, and others bleed (even less) and miscarry. This is what I know: there is little we can control when it comes to pregnancies. The nurse told me that there is no way to stop a miscarriage, and this was oddly comforting. No shame, no blame. But grief.
For me, writing is coping. And if my pregnancy story (stories) can offer comfort to even one person out there, I will continue to write. And when this pregnancy gets past the first trimester, you better believe my husband and I are still going to take a cheesy, happy picture announcing the expectance of Baby Tereshko, and you better believe I still want some Facebook likes because this will be a milestone we have crossed, a bridge scaled. But in the meantime, I’m pregnant, this is real, I’m not crazy, and we are waiting.