I am making my body a happy and healthy place for this next baby.
I started saying this mantra to myself long before our baby was even conceived. It guided me when I wasn’t sure we would be lucky enough to be here: 31 weeks pregnant with baby number three after losing our son at 24 weeks four years ago and welcoming our daughter nearly three years ago.
As hard as my second pregnancy was emotionally, the experiences of giving live birth to my daughter, parenting a newborn, nursing her – I just loved it all. After she arrived safely, I knew I wanted to experience another pregnancy knowing that all of that could be a possibility at the end of it.
This could happen for us again, I hoped. We were unlucky in that our son died, but so far, we had been lucky in conception.
But I had a medical issue that began when I was pregnant with my daughter. What started small grew to a much bigger problem by the time she was a year old and grew increasingly worse every month. In addition, I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve.
My cycles are short, so every 22 days it began again – an enormous amount of blood loss that was draining and exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I became severely anemic.
Still, we tried, and there were a couple times that I was convinced I was pregnant. Negative home pregnancy tests didn’t faze me because I had had a positive test and then two negative tests with my daughter early on in my pregnancy with her. One of these times I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited; I had never been so late. My mind played realistic tricks on my body and vice versa – I FELT pregnant.
But I wasn’t. And the hit of blood loss to my body that time was so severe that it was one of three times within seven months that I ended up in the ER. While I was hooked up to an IV and feeling defeated and depleted, a lovely, very-far-into-her-pregnancy nurse came into my ER pod. She and her team took good care of me, but all I saw was her rounded belly.
In my head, my mind raced: “I thought that would be me, I thought I wouldn’t be experiencing blood loss and pain like this, so severe that I’m in the hospital. So severe that I feel dizzy, have no color in my lips or face, and constantly need to sit down to keep from passing out.”
She asked me to explain what was going on and at the end of my rambling, I said, “…and it’s just hard because I really thought I was pregnant,” and burst into tears. She hugged me and said this was her first baby and that it had taken her and her husband over two years, longer than she had expected, so she understood.
It’s not just how long it takes, but the not knowing IF it will happen during that number of months or years that can be hard. Every cycle could be it or could not be it. And if not, you try to have hope for the next one. But after a certain amount of times, different for everyone, that hope can turn into something else entirely.
I was already so blessed. I have a son in heaven and a daughter here on earth. But that’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions – that parents wanting to build their family further aren’t grateful for whom they already have. It’s the idea of your family being complete or not, and that, to me, is a deeply personal decision. No one, no matter how well-meaning, can decide what makes someone else feel that his or her family is complete.
After that third ER trip, it was clear that I needed to have a surgery. I met with three different surgeons and chose the one whose main focus was not only on saving my health but preserving my fertility as well. I prepared for it with tons of iron supplements, lots of rest and self-care. I took the required three months post-surgery to focus on my overall health even more. A few months after that, feeling like a new person physically and having just run a 10K, we got the positive news via several blood tests.
And now I’m here, grateful for this pregnancy while knowing too well how easily all of this could slip away, how lucky I am to be here. Bravely embracing this baby, trying my best to make my body a happy and healthy place for him, just as I promised.