Everyone’s journey to pregnancy is different and beautiful in their own respective ways. And in that same manner, so is pregnancy after infertility. For some, it’s a long nine months of anxiousness and uncertainty. For others, the worry just seems to slip away and it’s thoroughly an enjoyable time.
For myself, the first trimester was touch and go in the sense that I had to learn to do what was best for my mental well-being. After years of tracking my cycle, knowing what day of my cycle I was on, knowing to the millimeter of what size my follicles where, my endometrium lining thickness, knowing all the numbers and details of sperm count, motility percentages and the list goes on and on… I learned very quickly in my first trimester this was very much a time I finally needed to surrender the control.
I had known so many details of our journey that some who conceived naturally would have absolutely no idea about.
If you conceived naturally and easily, you have no idea how many follicles you have or how big that follicle was that gave you your sweet baby. You probably never wondered or had the slightest idea what your partners sperm count was.
And for that I’m so grateful for all those that never had to endure infertility.
Early on first trimester, I let go of knowing everything. For the first little bit, I didn’t know what developmentally was happening each week to our little miracle baby. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely reading lots but not following on a weekly basis of what baby was up to. And to this day, I still don’t have a single baby app downloaded to my phone.
My focus? Wake up. Eat well. Sleep well. Pop my prenatal vitamin, take my other supplements and just simply enjoy the feeling of being pregnant.
I found for the first bit I would get uneasy thinking about what development was occurring. Were the limbs developing okay, the eyes developing as they should, did our baby have a nice strong heart?
I had doubted my body for so long, I was unsure of how I would trust it to grow a healthy baby for me.
But in slowly loosening my grip, I learned this – my body grew my baby knowing exactly what it needed. Unconsciously, without a single thought, my body knew how to grow a baby. How to develop a spine, limbs, a heart – everything.
I started to see beauty in my body’s ability and to cherish what it was capable of, something I had long ago forgot to do.
For the first time in years, I genuinely began to love my body for what it was able to do.
I felt so connected to my pregnancy right from the beginning. My mentality was: I felt pregnant, therefore I was. I opted out of a lot of “traditional” pregnancy things, and took a very uncommon approach to my pregnancy from a traditional, modern western medicine perspective. Something that I learned I needed to do for my sanity.
Somethings I did (and do) drove people nuts and that’s okay. The simple truth of it was this – at the end of the day, my mental well-being growing this child was much more important than satisfying what others wanted for me.
My baby would know any stress I put on myself so it was important that first and foremost, I looked after myself. It wasn’t to be selfish. Or make others feel not included.
It simply was just what I needed.
And my advice to others who start to feel overwhelmed? Learn to do what is best for you and your baby. Something doesn’t settle well with you? Don’t feel like plastering your pregnancy details everywhere? Don’t do it.
The last few years has been a real eye opener for me and I’ve slowly learned to stop being a people pleaser, or a push over and standing up for what I need.
And because of that mentality, I’ve really been able to enjoy this pregnancy for everything it is.
It wasn’t up until my halfway point in pregnancy that it finally felt “real.” Knowing the gender and having our anatomy ultrasound reveal that all was well and we had a healthy little baby on our hands, finally made it sink it.
Until that point, I had one previous ultrasound (my viability ultrasound at the fertility clinic – where baby was so small it didn’t eve resemble a baby) and I hardly bought a single item for baby in that time frame (unless you count a dresser for the nursery which we excitedly picked out the day of our viability scan).
It was around this point I finally felt I could read up on weekly development with baby without me feeling like I was doubting everything developmentally.
For myself personally, once I got to this point, I really began to cherish my pregnancy and was in a state of well-being to enjoy it.
Once I started to open up about our infertility journey, I realized that I needed a little more privacy for this pregnancy. We had shared so much that now it just felt like this experience was meant to be more intimate and not shared so publicly. What people knew was what I decided to share. Or when something monumental happens, I share it first with Robbie before gushing to others so that we have time to truly bask in this new advancement.
But that is our personal encounter with pregnancy after infertility.
I know some that were so quiet through their infertility, that are now ready to bask in the rays and glory of pregnancy. And so they should, pregnancy should be enjoyed.
I know some whose pregnancy was riddled with anxiousness. The fear of losing something they worked so hard to get was overwhelming.
How can my body not do anything right for so long and then be trusted to grow a child?
It’s a hard concept to grasp.
Imagine having a group of enemies who make your life nothing but miserable and one day waking up to them being kind, and sweet and in charge of all of your important life matters.
How do you trust them? Is it a ruse? A scam? How can you trust them to not shatter your heart and keep your best interests at bay.
That’s what pregnancy can be like after infertility.
There is also this concept with pregnancy after infertility that you HAVE to enjoy every ounce of it.
If you are achy, have nausea, can’t keep anything down, have heartburn or have any discomforts that you talk about – it’s suddenly “you think you would be grateful for being sick after all you’ve been through.”
It’s suddenly like after infertility, you can’t say one thing about discomfort (not even in a whiny way, just a simple “this is how I feel” matter-of-fact way) and some people think you are ungrateful for pregnancy.
But here’s the thing. You can still be grateful for being pregnant but that doesn’t mean you have to be happy that you are currently feeling not the greatest.
You are allowed to say “my morning sickness is so bad today, I couldn’t keep breakfast down” without people telling you, that you are ungrateful for your pregnancy.
Once you do get pregnant, you will also find that some people tend to dismiss all of your struggles that it took to get to this major life triumph.
I had a few comments after I announced we were expecting along the lines of “see you did all that worrying for nothing.”
As if being pregnant now simply erased the hard journey we took to get to this point.
I’m so very grateful for this pregnancy – but being pregnant now, doesn’t erase any of our financial debt that it took to get pregnant.
It doesn’t erase all the times I cried wondering if I would ever be able to carry a child.
It doesn’t erase the nights I spent up reading everything I could so that I could help my body be the absolute healthiest to produce the best results.
It doesn’t erase the months I had little sleep from being up early to drive to Ottawa to coming back and working late just to do it all over again and again.
It doesn’t erase the heartache of being childless for years while I watched others conceive naturally with ease.
It doesn’t erase the look on my husbands face as I told him month and month again, it’s negative.
And it doesn’t erase the fears I have about the future and the uncertainty of will we be able to have the family we always dreamed of?
There is so much to be grateful with being pregnant, but it doesn’t change the past. And while we struggled, we had no idea when this time would come. I’ve seen couples get pregnant off of their first intrauterine insemination and others who have done multiple rounds of IVF still with no luck.
When you are in your infertility journey, you have no idea where your journey will take you or how long that journey will be.
All you can hope for is that somewhere at the end of the journey, it doesn’t leave you childless.
Pregnancy after infertility for me really made me sure of what I wanted and what I knew I needed. And while I am so fortunate to have a good pregnancy and be able to be in a head space of acceptance of all that is and let the worries and doubts slip away, it’s not the case for all.
So check in with your friends who are pregnant after infertility. Because maybe, just maybe, they need someone to really talk to that will understand that sometimes the battle still wages on, even after you think you’ve already won the war.