Over the past year my patience has been seriously tested. Many of my friends and family know about this but it’s not something I’ve really shared on my blog other than a passing comment here and there. Now’s the time though, and I’m warning you now that has turned into a pretty long post so bear with me! (Or skip it all together! I won’t be offended!)
We’ve been officially trying to conceive baby #2 for more than a year now, going on something like 15 or 16 months. And it’s not going the way that I’d hoped, planned, or expected that it would.
When we decided to have our first baby my doctor gave us the OK to go off the Pill and start trying. He said it would probably take a few months for my body to get back on track after being on the Pill for so many years and so we should be patient. And mostly, we were. We’d only been married a little over a year, and had just bought a new house so we had plenty of other distractions. And in the end, it only took a few months before we were pregnant with LP (and then I went on to have what I jokingly call “the shortest full-term pregnancy ever,” what with being a month farther along than we thought originally and then delivering 3 weeks early.)
And parenthood is good. LP has been the best thing that ever happened to us, the jelly to our peanut butter and bread, the spice to our otherwise pretty dull lives. He cracks us up every day and we are so so blessed to have him.
A little over a year ago we decided it was time to start trying for baby #2. Both Paul and I are the oldest of three (we both have two younger brothers) and we wanted the same for LP. And so, the “trying” began. I hadn’t gone back on the Pill after LP so I thought maybe we’d get pregnant faster the second time around. And there certainly seemed to be something in the water as one by one my local friends began announcing that they were expecting their second babies, until finally, all 4 of them had either just had #2 or were pregnant, and I was the lone hold-out. The only one still having more than one drink on our Girl’s Nights Out as I was the only one not pregnant or breastfeeding (which did have its benefits- I was able to call “not it!” as the designated driver on several occasions without feeling guilty about it!).
It was hard. Every month I’d do the math of when a baby would be born if we got pregnant that month, and how old LP would be compared to his younger sibling. And then, every month, I wasn’t pregnant. I started tracking my basal temperatures, waking up at 5 a.m. to take my temperature and write it in a little chart, hoping to pinpoint the exact day I was ovulating each month. And I became more and more impatient as my friends got farther along in their pregnancies until, with each, a text message came along saying that the baby was born and everyone was happy and healthy. I spent hours in my sewing room, embroidering names and dates of birth on soft little blankets, trying to just focus on my happiness for my friends and their families and not on my sadness and frustration over not being pregnant myself.
When I got pregnant with Little Paul I didn’t know for more than a month that I was pregnant. With him, I’d had what I thought was my regular period and so didn’t know I was pregnant until I didn’t get my period the following month. What I’d thought was my period turned out to be implantation bleeding, leaving me 4 weeks farther along than I’d thought. As a result, every time I get my period I still think, “but maybe I AM really pregnant and this is just the implantation bleeding again,” leading me to take pregnancy test after pregnancy test only to be disappointed when they all are negative and it turns out that it really is just my Aunt Flo visiting again.
Then, one day a few months ago, about a week after Aunt Flo had visited I had some very light spotting. This has NEVER happened to me before in all of my life- I’ve always been extremely regular, and so I decided to take a random test that had been lingering in the bathroom cupboard, collecting dust. It was positive! And so was the second test I took! I ran downstairs to tell Paul and we decided to tell our parents but to wait on telling the rest of our families until a blood test at the doctor’s office had confirmed the good news.
The next day I left work early to get the blood test done. The following day the nurse called with the results. The test was positive but my hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) levels were very low- much lower than they should have been. hCG is a hormone that is produced during pregnancy. Anything over 25 is considered positive for pregnancy, anything under 25 is negative. And within the first couple of weeks of pregnancy the numbers usually climb into the 1000-2000 range. My levels after that first test were at 80. I was told to come back for another blood test to see if the numbers would go up or down. Two days later I sat in the lab again, fingers crossed that my numbers would be higher this time around. The next day the nurse called to say that the numbers had dropped again, this time to 10. It wasn’t looking good. The nurse told me to expect to start bleeding soon, as a miscarriage was imminent. I called Paul at work, crying over the phone. I called my mother. I called my best friend from college. I emailed a group of college friends who’d been waiting for the news, as they’d been the ones listening to me complain and moan for months on end via Facebook messages. And I texted a friend who was on her way over for a play date that afternoon- telling her to come anyway to help keep my mind off things. She got in touch with a few of the other girls from my local group, and within hours they were at my house with coffee cake, big hugs, and tons of support. Paul came home early from work and went to CVS for me to get me some giant maxi-pads that the nurse had told me I’d need (there’s true love for you!).
The bleeding never started. It turned out that again, my body had tricked me. What I’d thought was my regular period a week earlier was actually the miscarriage. My hCG levels were dropping after the miscarriage as they should, going back to almost zero when I happened to take that random test. And so I already wasn’t pregnant, before I’d even known that I WAS pregnant.
I’m thankful for that. I’m so thankful that I wasn’t pregnant very long, that I didn’t lose a baby in the second or third trimester. I hadn’t even let myself get excited about this baby yet, it hadn’t seemed real, and that’s because it wasn’t meant to be. I was never in any physical pain; I didn’t even know I was losing a baby at the time.
And so I mourned for the loss of this baby, and for our little family, and I was sad and cried for a day or two but I know it could have been so much worse.
So now we’re back to trying again. And I’m working on my patience. The doctor says everything is fine; we’ve been pregnant at least twice so things are working right. There’s no reason to do anything other than good old-fashioned baby-making these days so that’s what we’re doing. I’m trying to look at it as time for us to just enjoy focusing on LP for a while longer- enjoying being our little family of three for now. And I know that one day, there will be a baby #2 in our lives, and I’d like to be able to look back at this time as a time when we had fun doing things with LP that we wouldn’t be able to do with a new baby in the house, not as a time where I was impatient and testy and frustrated every month (although I certainly have my moments, and plenty of them!)
After we found out about the miscarriage I called my brothers to tell them what had happened. They hadn’t known that I thought I was pregnant but I wanted to share our story with them any way. And for the same reasons, I’ve decided to share here as well.
According to the NIH:
“It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%. Most miscarriages occur during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy.”
So up to half of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, and in many cases the woman doesn’t even know about it. The fact that this is such a high number made me want to share with people. If, God forbid, this should happen to my brothers’ fiancés, or to my friends, I want them to know that it happened to me too, and that it happens to many many woman but that it’s not talked about that much. In fact, since telling my friends about this, two of them have told me that it happened to them as well- but they didn’t tell any friends at the time. I hate knowing that they went through this too and that I didn’t know and couldn’t offer my love and support at the time. I think it’s something that SHOULD be talked about, and, for me at least, I think it’s cathartic and therapeutic to share this with friends and loved ones.
And so, that’s where we are. Paul is much better about being patient with this than I am. Whenever he sees me getting upset he says, "Honey, I want a second baby as much as you do. But at the same time, LP is enough. He's so smart and funny and healthy and we are so lucky to have such a wonderful son. Even if we never have another child, we are very very blessed." And you know what, he's right.
Do I still get frustrated and upset about the fact that we’re not pregnant yet? Absolutely. Do I wish sometimes that LP would be closer in age to his future sibling? Definitely- he’ll be at least 3 and a half or so by the time # 2 might roll around. Do I get a little teary-eyed every time I read a Facebook status update from a friend who is announcing their pregnancy, or who just had a baby, or who is up all night with their newborn? Yes- sometimes I want to yell at them, “stop whining about being up all night! Some of us are desperate for that!” (although really, being able to sleep all night is definitely a blessing!) But mostly, I’m trying to take it one day at a time, knowing that it will happen when the time is right, and until then, enjoying Big Paul and Little Paul and the life we’ve created together. Because it’s good, really really GOOD.