My reproductive history is a difficult one. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and a tilted uterus. My periods are painful, sex hurts, and my first pregnancy, labor, and delivery were complicated. I suffered two miscarriages trying to get pregnant again, and started to think my body was incapable of carrying another viable embryo to term. In other words, when I took that pregnancy test in 2011 I expected it to be negative. It wasn't. Before I knew it I was bombarded by the thoughts every woman who's had a miscarriage thinks when she finds out she's pregnant... again.
When my doctor confirmed that, yes, I was pregnant again, I was shocked. But that shock quickly turned to worry, since my pregnancy was labeled a "threatened abortion" due to my previous miscarriages. My partner and I had been trying for another child for years, had suffered multiple losses, and while we were ready for another baby, we weren't ready for another heartbreak. We had been discussing fertility treatment options before I took that test, I was still recovering from a deep depression, and I had lost all faith that I would be able to expand my family. In other words, while that positive pregnancy test was a dream come true, that dream came with a side dish of fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt.
Luckily, after nine difficult months my son was born on my daughter's fifth birthday. Finally I was able to give my baby girl a little brother and best friend for life. But make no mistake, the pregnancy losses I endured prior to the birth of my son will always be with me. And when I finally got pregnant again, I couldn't help but think about those two miscarriages and how they were going to impact the pregnancy I hoped to carry to term.
"The Test Has To Be Wrong"
I took two tests that cold, January day, convinced the first was a false positive. I'd taken so many negative pregnancy tests when I was trying to get pregnant, that a true positive seemed impossible. I stopped dreaming, stopped hoping, and stopped praying. After a miscarriage, let alone two, hope seems to be more of a cruel mindset than a positive outlook.
Until my doctor confirmed the test results, I remained unconvinced.
"I Can't Tell Anyone Yet"
Even after a certified OB-GYN confirmed my pregnancy, I was too scared to say the words "I'm pregnant" out loud. It was as if saying the words tested fate or would manifest into some sort of "bad luck" omen.
Still, I was so elated to be pregnant. My husband and I had been trying for years, so it felt like a time to celebrate. I just, well, couldn't. I couldn't "jinx it." I couldn't make an announcement and risk having to go through the painful process of letting everyone know I had lost another pregnancy.
I ended up waiting until I passed that often precarious first trimester before I told people we were expecting again.
"What If I Lose This Pregnancy, Too?"
Every single day I was worried I would lose the pregnancy. Every single doctor's visit I was terrified the OB-GYN would tell me they couldn't find a heartbeat. Every time I rolled the wrong way in bed, tripped, fell, or accidentally ate something that wasn't "safe" during pregnancy, I panicked. I was so careful before those two miscarriages, and my cautiousness didn't seem to matter.
It's so hard to forget your past when it feels so connected to your present.
"I Need To Put Myself In A Bubble Immediately"
Fear is a powerful thing, my friend. The moment that pregnancy test turned positive, I started a mental list of every single food I needed to avoid, drink I needed to ditch, and physical activity I could no longer engage in. I might as well have put myself in a bubble a la Jake Gyllenhaal in Bubble Boy.
Thankfully, you learn to live your life with a kind of cautious optimism. The fear doesn't go away entirely, but little by little you learn to trust your body again.
"I Don't Deserve This"
I went through my first trimester of my rainbow pregnancy thinking I didn't deserve it. After all, I already had a healthy, happy daughter. Was I being selfish, continuously trying to expand my family? Was there something I could've done to prevent those two pregnancy losses? Would I somehow lose this pregnancy, too?
I don't have the answers to any of the aforementioned questions, but eventually I did realize that blaming myself for something I had no control over wasn't healthy. I deserved another chance at becoming a mother for a second time. And if you're in the same boat, so do you.
"I Feel Guilty"
Joy is a complicated emotion when you've lost a previous pregnancy. The happy moments somehow, someway, also feel wrong. There's this subtle expectation from others that the pregnancy somehow erases your other pregnancy losses, but it doesn't. It can't. It never will.
When I held that positive pregnancy test in my hands, I wasn't sure I could feel true, unabashed joy again. Because while I was happy, it was laced with guilt and sadness and a profound sense of loss.
Turns out, happiness and sadness are often intertwined, and it's almost impossible to figure out where one stops and the other starts.
Sometimes I catch myself staring at my son's long eyelashes as he plays quietly to himself and think, "Thank you for letting me love you." Because despite all those years of pain and heartache, and despite those two pregnancy losses, I did carry him to term. I nurtured him and grew him and birthed him into this world.
I made him.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.