Life Update: Our Winter So Far
Earlier this summer, Jeff and I made the decision to try and start a family. Jeff was all-in whenever I was ready and the decision was something I stewed over for months. I’ve wanted kids my entire life but thinking about the process of starting a family was terrifying to me. What if we can’t? What if we can and something bad happens? Can we handle this? If we’re born with a child that needs extra care, is that something our marriage can survive? Also in real talk- when did I become old enough to be a parent? Sometimes I I still feel 16. I’m married now? Weird. I’m 32? When did that happen. Do you ever have those moments?
After realizing the “perfect time” to have kids doesn’t exist, I stopped taking the pill in July. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to be a mom since forever, I was just kind of waiting around for everything in life to magically come together and as I’m learning, life is never predictable or perfect.
I spent a few months taking pregnancy tests that read “not pregnant” and then, at the suggestion of my friend and mama-to-be Amusingly Katie, I switched from the fertility app I was using to the Ovia app. The Ovia app changed my “fertile” dates by FIVE DAYS. When you’re trying to get pregnant, that’s a HUGE discrepancy.
On November 26, Jeff was cooking dinner and Ovia reminded me to take a pregnancy test. I love that feature of the app because I don’t have to worry about remembering dates. I didn’t even tell him what I was doing because my mind was elsewhere and “not pregnant” was becoming routine. I thought I started my period that morning so I was taking it purely as part of the checklist. It didn’t even cross my mind that I might be pregnant. I took the test and the word “pregnant” popped up on the screen. I WAS STUNNED. I think my exact words to myself were “NO F**KING WAY “.
I ran out of the bathroom and said “uhhhh baby, I just took a pregnancy test and it says pregnant” he said “What?!” and I replied with “I think I’m pregnant.”
Tears immediately filled his eyes and he ran over to give me a hug. We both cried as I stood in our kitchen in disbelief. I talk a lot about my struggle with anxiety. I’ve read blog after blog and post after post of people who say “finding out I was pregnant was the happiest moment of our lives” but honestly, for me it brought a whole new wave of anxiety in the moments following that test. It’s not that I don’t feel the gratitude or feel lucky at all, it’s that the anxiety creeps in to every single moment of my life, happy and sad. My thoughts were in this order: “I’m so happy we can get pregnant. Holy sh** we’re going to be parents. Wait- there’s a baby. Am I supposed to tell anyone? What if I hurt it? Where will we live? What do I do now?”
I wish I could tell you that all anxiety goes out the window when you finally find out you’re pregnant, but for me that wasn’t the case. My anxiety quadrupled. I’ve worked with a therapist for the better part of a decade and it’s been such an amazing journey in my life. I have generalized anxiety disorder. Jeff asked if we could keep our big news to ourselves for a week or so (I can’t keep a secret to save my life) and but I asked him if I could tell my therapist at our appointment the next day. He said of course.
One of the most amazing moments of my life happened the night we found out. We were in bed in the dark falling asleep and I heard Jeff crying while we cuddled. We’ve had a hard year and being able to give him this gift gave me a sense of relief, the first I’d felt in over a year. His excitement and gratitude made me love him even more in that moment. We were going to enter a new phase of life together.
I told my therapist the next day and when she asked how I felt I welled up with tears and said “I feel so guilty that I feel completely terrified”
She told me in that session that fear wasn’t a rare feeling when you find out you’re pregnant. In fact , it’s really really normal. I left there feeling a little better about my initial reaction.
The following week my doctor confirmed that I was pregnant and I had my first ultrasound. I did NOT realize that until the baby has grown a pretty significant amount, they do a transvaginal ultrasound meaning, they go in you to see the baby. I say this as a warning if you’re as modest as I am. I was SO uncomfortable going from seeing my doctor to an ultrasound tech I had never met. My very first appointment, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. I didn’t get photos, they just confirmed that I was pregnant and everything was normal. I was told my due date was July 31 and that I was about 6 weeks along. I kept notes in the Ovia app about EVERYTHING (when we tried, every second of my period, etc.) so the due date and my progress weren’t surprises. Also I now understand why people talk about pregnancy in weeks, not months. You are literally trying to get through the pregnancy one week at a time and every week is different. The development as it unfolds is INCREDIBLE and changes happen almost daily. A month is a LIFETIME in pregnancy, at least it was for me.
We told my parents that weekend that I was pregnant (we surprised them on video when Jeff was pretending to take a family photo) and they were shocked and delighted. Shortly after that I had an 8 week ultrasound. We got to see the heartbeat and when I laughed at the tech during the ultrasound, you could see the baby move. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life and for the first time, I felt maternal. The part of that appointment that was weird (in retrospect) is that they told me that they miscalculated my due date, I was actually due August 14 and only 6 weeks along. Hmm. Odd…but the baby looks healthy so whatever! That day we got to take home a photo of our baby (which looked like a blob but we were SO excited about that photo).
The day we saw our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, we flew up to New York to surprise Jeff’s parents. We surprised them with Christmas gifts- Grandma and Grandpa sweatshirts- and recorded the whole thing. It was priceless.
We spent the next two weeks on cloud 9. I slept a LOT (growing a human will wear you out), and was grossed out by almost every food in sight. Veggies? Out of the question. I think the only thing I could stomach was pasta and fruit and that’s almost all I ate for 3 weeks. Jeff checked in on me constantly and gave my stomach a kiss when I left for work every morning. He melted my heart. Every time he asked how we were, I felt my heart double in size. Cannot believe I get to have a baby with this human. He’s going to be the best dad ever.
I wanted to tell a couple of very close friends the news. We knew people warned against telling people before 12 weeks but I told Jeff if something went south, I would want our friends to be there for us. We talked about miscarriage. How would we feel? We both agreed that miscarriage is nature’s way of telling my body something isn’t right. We both agreed that we were BEYOND grateful to get pregnant together and had faith that if we were faced with miscarriage, there would be another baby for us that we would be the baby we’d get to hold.
I tried to contain my excitement about the pregnancy but I couldn’t and really, why would I want to? We saw a heartbeat. There’s a baby! It’s a great time to be excited. We casually discussed names, said things like “next year at this time there will be a baby here” and dreamed about our future. We talked about moving, started looking more closely at our finances and started planning for the arrival of a baby in August. Toning down my excitement was impossible.
On January 3, we went in for our 8 week ultrasound. Here is my advice: don’t look at the tech’s face. Ultrasounds are so fast but I would sit there every time and try and read what she was thinking instead of looking at the ceiling, waiting for her to finish and communicate what she saw to me. I told Jeff he didn’t have to come to this appointment but I changed my mind last minute, realizing that if something went wrong, I didn’t want to be alone. THANK GOD he was there. I’ll never schedule another ultrasound without him.
The tech finished her part of our ultrasound and said “I’m not seeing the growth I’d like to see here. I’m going to have you see your doctor”. My heart sank and I tried not to cry. I looked at Jeff and said “I know this isn’t good” and he tried to keep me from my own thoughts.
When our doctor came in she told us our baby’s heartbeat was gone. Jeff and I held hands and both started to cry. I don’t think I fully realized how much I loved that baby until that moment. I was absolutely crushed. The doctor talked with us about how miscarriage is nature’s way of telling you something isn’t right and how my body was telling us something was off and that they believe it’s chromosomal. It was NOT our fault or anything we did or didn’t do.
It’s been one week since we got our news. I’m going to do a full post on the miscarriage when I’ve had a little more time to process the past week because sharing has been such a helpful part of this grief. There is also so much I didn’t know that I want to share for anyone else going through this or who will go through this.
I am still crushed and that’s an understatement. A part of my heart feels like it’s missing and I may never get that part of it back. This has been the hardest week of my entire life. I used to have passing thoughts about what life would be like if we didn’t have kids. What if we traveled the world together? Those thoughts are gone forever. Seeing Jeff find out he was going to be a dad and watch him take care of me and our baby has changed me forever in the best way. I am meant to be a parent with this man and I have never been more excited to start our future. The next time we find out we're parents will definitely be the best moment of my life. I cannot wait for that moment.
As for what to say to someone going through a miscarriage…everyone is different based on what they feel and what they believe. I think the universal “safe” thing to say that has meant so much to me is “I’m sorry” or “I’m sorry for your loss”. There were so many kind words said to me over the past week that have made me feel loved, supported and less lonely but what’s good for me may not be well received by someone else. There were also a few things meant in comfort that really hurt me deeply. “I’m sorry” is appreciated beyond measure. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Thank you for allowing me to share this process and our pain. This is so much more emotional and traumatic than I would have ever imagined. More about our journey coming soon.
Love and appreciate you,