Pregnancy is a Bully
I always wanted to be pregnant. I know not every girl or woman is like that, in fact I know firsthand from the stricken stares I often got from girlfriends when I casually mentioned my desire, but I have pictured pregnancy and motherhood for my whole life. Of course I would be glowing and it would be such a unique and special time and I would treasure it.
The first time pregnancy kicked my ass, I was 24 years old, volunteering on a remote island off the coast of Sierra Leone, had just left my very serious but headed-for-the-Peace-Corps boyfriend behind (because I’ll leave you before you can leave me so there!) and in a very unstable head space. Okay, this was only a pregnancy scare, not a real pregnancy, but due to the lack of WalGreens and Rite Aids in Sierra Leone, the need to take a 1-hour boat ride, 2-hour car ride, and meet with a barefoot African doctor in her home to get tested (then wait over a week for the result), and the total upheaval my mind and body were experiencing…it was a five-week boobs-hurting-no-period-oh-holy-cow pregnancy scare. On top of it all the anti-malarial meds I was taken were totally not okay for pregnancy, so I spent each day choosing between a healthy fetus and malaria. So yes. I count that as the first time pregnancy kicked my ass. In the end, when I found out I actually wasn’t pregnant, it was too late. My hopes and dreams and visions of my African adventure were shattered and I was too broken to stay there and try to help build an ecotourism resort as if nothing had happened. I hopped on a plane home and nursed the internal bumps and bruises I had received from not even being pregnant at all.
Considering the first time pregnancy kicked my ass, the second time it kicked my ass was a bit ironic. When I was 28 I found out I very likely would never be pregnant.
After years of strange health issues, an IBS diagnosis, two years of following every crazy IBS diet and rule in the book, I went to a homeopath who after one appointment said “this isn’t digestive, it’s reproductive” and instructed me on what tests to have done. Two weeks later it was found that my ovaries were over twice the size they should have been. A year later (slow, slow Western medicine) that hadn’t changed, and an emergency endometriosis surgery resulted with no guarantees for my fertility at all. Chances were that both ovaries would be removed. Suddenly the assumed lack of pregnancy in my life was kicking my ass.
The surgery went way better than anyone expected, but we (that same Peace Corps leaving boyfriend, who managed to return to me and marry me too) were still warned that natural conception probably wouldn’t work for us, but to start trying now if we wanted it to because the endometriosis would likely come back.
Then came all the fun of cervical mucus checks, totally un-organic sex schedules, and crazy hippie fertility foods (Chia seeds, bee pollen, and seaweed smoothies anyone?), while simultaneously navigating the infertility department of our local Kaiser. About six months in (and lots and lots of “last night out because I’m totally getting pregnant soon!” and peeing on sticks) we found out that my abdomen had been completely filled with scar tissue after the surgery, blocking both fallopian tubes. That meant a trip straight from natural to IVF for us, and at the time we didn’t think we could afford or justify IVF to ourselves.
Pregnancy had given me a one-two punch – making me think I was pregnant at the worst possible time, then once I was ready to be, telling me nope…that’s just not for you. I longed for those days in Sierra Leone when I thought I was some sort of accidental fertility goddess.
But time and parents and unexpected donations have a way of changing your mind, and so my husband and I sat down one night and decided to go ahead and try IVF. We said we’d try three times, or three years from when we had started trying naturally, whichever came first. Our lives wouldn’t be like this forever.
And then pregnancy continued to steadily and slowly kick my ass though three months of daily shots, hormones, incomparable exhaustion, 15 pounds of weight gain, a bruised circle around my abdomen, and hour-long hospital commutes many times a week.
I remember a terrible/awesome Hallmark commercial from when I was a kid. Basically, a lady puts a present in front of her husband. He reads the card that says “Happy Fathers Day.” He looks up and says “Father’s Day?” They both start crying and it’s the best thing ever. I knew then and there that I would someday magically get pregnant when we were ready but not really trying, right before Father’s Day. IVF doesn’t look like that commercial.
Then pregnancy kicked my ass for the fourth and final time (oh geeze I hope). When I was 29-years-old, in late January of this year, I found out that after our first round of IVF we were pregnant…with twins. Before I go any further, yes I am thrilled. We are so grateful and excited and happy beyond being able to adequately explain it to other people. I am not a monster, nor even afflicted with pregnancy depression or anything like that. However…
Twins do not run in my family. My body was already beaten down from two years of IBS diets, a year of surgeries and recoveries, then three months of crazy hormones, and six months into this pregnancy I am convinced that there is a reason twins aren’t a genetic likelihood for me. My body is simply not made for it. My mother and grandmothers had very easy pregnancies. They don’t remember any symptoms at all really, and my mom managed to give birth within an hour of entering the hospital both times. My expectations may have been slightly off.
A few times a week I put on a pretty dress and go out in public, maybe just to the store, or possibly to a barbecue or party. In those times I feel the way I thought I would feel. Pregnancy is totally my best friend. Everyone comments on how amazing I look, people rub my belly and we talk about how lucky we are to be having twins, and a boy and girl no less! I feel radiant and goddess-y and all the things I imagined I would.
But for the majority of the rest of my days and nights, I am lying or reclining on some soft surface in a mumu (or nothing at all but giant maternity panties if I’m assured we won’t have guests) with my hair uncombed, a layer of sweat dried on my whole body, trying to ignore one or another symptom while I distract myself on Facebook or cloth diaper shopping. I feel needy, whiney, and pretty pissed off that pregnancy is still kicking my ass. We watched “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” a week or so ago, and I am so grateful for Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of Wendy. I am Wendy, and I am over it.
I ”met” Nikol through a friend. And by “met” I mean that when friends announce that their friends are pregnant and have blogs, I immediately become creepy stalkers of them. So I started creepy stalking Nikol, and eventually admitted this to her on Facebook, and what do you know she was way nice about it and has become my “pregnant friend.” We share resources and stories and I feel like I know her and Ryan and Claire Olive for real. I’m so grateful that she has invited me to guest post on this blog. While the tone of this post is definitely mostly snark and downer, I hope she’ll let me post another post or two sometime on what I’ve learned as a research-addicted twin pregnant lady, and all the great things about pregnancy too.