Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

Miscarriage Anxiety Isn't Helped By Having Good Odds

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Romper's Trying project follows five women with very different stories through a year of trying to conceive. Where discussions about fertility often focus on the end goal, they'll document what it's like emotionally, physically, and spiritually before you get there — the anxiety, the hope, the ovulation kits, the tests. How do you function when getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term isn't a given? Read on for one woman's answer to that question.

Alyssa experienced a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, and she and her husband are still trying. This is the tenth installment of her Trying diary. You can read the previous entry here.

I’m about 11 weeks pregnant and my miscarriage anxiety has only worsened. (Maybe to you, dear reader, this comes as no surprise: my Type-A, control freak tendencies are well-documented by now.) Our nine-week appointment was a success — and thankfully uneventful. There was growth between the first and second ultrasounds, with a strong heartbeat present. I asked my OB what the chances of miscarrying at this particular stage are: she said less than 1 percent. Less than one percent, I repeat in my head like a chorus, hoping it brings the reassurance I’m desperate for.

Statistically, the odds are overwhelmingly in my favor, but the wild, head-rearing what ifs will always conquer. Before pregnancy, I was never a pessimistic person; you can imagine how frustrating this has been. If this were a cartoon, the devil on one shoulder has my full attention; and my angel is stuck in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic somewhere. My nausea has blessedly retreated — which only triggers uneasy feelings: This is what happened with our first pregnancy. Has the placenta taken over, or is this a sign of hormone loss? Science would say all is well, but my experience paints a different picture. (And those damn what ifs.)

I still haven’t made our news public at work. I’m not quite ready. If something happens again, the thought of having to explain that to coworkers, who I do not feel very close with, is unbearable. Ironically, our office manager just returned from medical leave, approaching my desk and glancing down at my stomach. “No baby yet? What’s wrong with you?”

Yes, I’m having sex with my husband, now leave me alone.

I can barely stomach this. Now that I’m pregnant I’m more in tune to the oblivious and baffling remarks that practical strangers make. (“A ring on a woman’s finger doesn’t indicate child-bearing obligations thank you very much,” I dream of replying.) When I blatantly ignore her, she tells me how her daughter-in-law has been trying to get pregnant for two years. You’d think through this experience, she’d be more delicate and considerate about approaching a mere acquaintance about the matter of fertility, but I digress. It takes everything in my professional power to keep my cool and disregard the ignorance. Older generations have been hardened by tradition; the nuclear family is still the norm, despite modern culture’s norm-shattering tendencies. You meet someone, get married, buy a home, and within a matter of months, it’s: “When are you going to start a family?” In 2019, why is this still the standard? Is there nothing else to talk about? It’s no one’s business but my own whether I’m trying to start a family… even if I’m trying to start a family. Yes, I’m having sex with my husband, now leave me alone. If a co-worker announces a marriage or pregnancy, smile like you mean it until the fever pitch abates.

The due date from our first try comes and goes. I find that I feel sorrowful despite having such exciting prospects and memories ahead. These nine months are a marathon; I’ll feel better about it all closer to the finish line. My pregnancy's inability to progress the first time still stings — I imagine, in some way, it always will. Focusing on the present proves challenging. (Again… those damn what ifs.) One hypothetical is particularly loud in my head: We would have met our child by now if our plan had gone through without a hitch. Would we have been ready? What name would we have chosen? Boy or a girl? I can’t and won’t ever know the answers to these questions and I have to force myself to be okay with that.

The anxiety and uncertainty are all-consuming.

Each milestone, trivial or vital, during this process is so critical. I’m mentally preparing for our next appointment about a week and a half off. It’s big because it marks the end of the first trimester, when things really kick into high gear… God willing.

The mental and emotional tolls of being pregnant seem much more complex than the physical. If science has the reins, I’m riding shotgun without a seatbelt. Still, the anxiety and uncertainty are all-consuming and an everyday battle. I’ve started meditating daily and undergoing regular acupuncture. Placebo effect or reality, they’re helping — small victories that propel me to the next milestone. Week-to-week is fine, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.