Pregnancy after Infertility- For the Mama who Had To Wait
Towards the end of last year I was invited to guest post by the lovely Crystal at mommythrives.com. You can check the post out here, and you can also read it below. Needless to say, the subject of IVF is one that is very close to my heart, and pregnancy after any kind of struggle, while an amazingly triumphant feeling, can raise some pretty real emotions. And like most things infertility related, its just not talked about enough. So for the Mama who had to wait, this one is for YOU!
Before getting pregnant, I was certain of two things. One was that once I was finally pregnant, the nightmare we had gone through to get to this point would become just a distant memory. And two, all the anxiety and worry I had pent up during my two week wait would simply dissipate as soon as I saw those two magical pink lines.
Well you can imagine I was pretty shocked when I found neither of these two things to be remotely true. I realised just how proud I am of the battle we fought (and won) and the lengths that we went to in order to bring our miracle babe into the world. Now that she’s here I don’t want to simply ‘forget’ about everything we went through (which is probably a good thing, because I don’t think I could forget that shizz if I tried!).
And honestly speaking, I don’t think I even knew what anxiety was until I was actually pregnant.
Which got me thinking about some of the BIG emotions I wish someone had told me I would feel after getting my long-awaited for BFP (that’s a ‘Big Fat Positive’ for any of you not au fait with such lingo), and most importantly, that it was ok to feel ALL the feels.
I absolutely loved being pregnant, I celebrated every ounce of nausea and every swollen ankle that pregnancy threw at me, but I had no idea just how emotional it would make me feel. So if you’ve recently found yourself finally pregnant after a long-ass wait, then this one is for you.
Disbelief and Denial
You probably won’t allow yourself to believe it’s real for a very, very long time. Your body has failed you time and time again, so why should you begin to trust it now? Sure you’ve peed on (several) sticks, and had multiple BETA blood tests, all of which say you’re pregnant. But surely it’s not actually going to happen!
I must have been about 7 months pregnant by the time I accepted there was a decent probability that I would be coming home with an actual baby. But I had to work hard at training myself to say “when the baby comes..” instead of “if the baby comes..”. Of course the sooner you can emerge from this season of denial the better, but if like me, it takes you some time to go from ‘this can’t possibly be happening’ to ‘I think it might be happening’, to ‘OMG this is (insert expletives) happening!’, just know that it’s completely normal and understandable to feel this way after everything you’ve been through. You’ve fought an almighty battle to get here, so just let it sink in in its own sweet time!
As mentioned earlier, the worry and anxiousness doesn’t end with the dreaded two week wait. Oh no. Boobs not feeling sore today? Queue the anxiety. Not feeling that ill today? Anxiety. Haven’t felt the baby move in over half an hour? Almighty anxiety.
Up there with disbelief and denial, anxiety is all part and parcel of finally having something you have wanted for so long, and the natural fear that it could be taken away from you at any moment. It can be really hard to just relax and actually enjoy your pregnancy because you’re so bloody petrified something is going to go wrong.
There’s no magic formula for calming those pesky nerves, other than knowing that every day that passes, the anxiety will gradually subside and you’ll slowly start trusting your body more and more to do it’s thing.
On top of being riddled with disbelief and anxiety, you might find yourself feeling a bit guilty because you’re struggling to fully enjoy and embrace finally being pregnant. Just try and cut yourself some slack, this has no doubt been a really tough road to date so you’re fully entitled to feel apprehensive, especially in the first trimester when everything is brand new and you literally have no idea which end of you is up. It’s nature’s way of protecting you from further hurt and disappointment, and every day that passes it will become less and less and less.
You might also feel guilty because here you are pregnant, when you know so many others are still struggling. I regularly think about all those wonderful warrior women who I shared my infertility journey with, many of whom went on to become mothers themselves, but many who are still in the wait. I try not to feel guilty for the fact that I am where I am today, but instead focus on sharing my story and hoping that my journey can inspire even just one person to keep on fighting for their own little miracle.
Not everyone is going to ‘get’ the journey you’ve been on. I remember ending up in a group chat of 70+ other expectant mothers back in my first trimester (right when my anxiety was at an all-time high). It was clear from the get-go that none of these women had struggled to get pregnant.
Here they all were, complaining about every little thing their pregnancy threw at them and joking about how as soon as the baby was ‘out’ the first thing they were going to do was have both themselves and their husbands sterilized because “OMG, literally all he has to do is look at me and BAM, I’m pregnant!”.
Needless to say I didn’t find this sort of banter funny, or remotely relatable. Their words and casual, complacent attitude towards being pregnant frustrated the hell out of me. I wanted to scream at them all “Don’t you know how lucky you are?!”. I wanted to tell them that there are thousands, if not millions of women out there who would give anything (and I literally mean anything) to be in their shoes.
Then there are the people who mean well, but say all the wrong things, such as how great it is that you won’t have any problem conceiving in the future because now you’re pregnant! (I’ve heard this one multiple times). They don’t mean any harm, they’re just uneducated on the realms of infertility (lucky for them I say!). So either take the opportunity to educate them on whatever it is, or just do your best to smile, breathe, and move on.
But I promise you that when you do find your mom tribe, and you’re all sitting there together juggling the babies, eating with one hand whilst bouncing your beautiful babe on your hip, swapping new-born advice and horror stories from the delivery room, you’ll feel an overwhelming, immense sense of belonging. Whether or not these women can relate to your journey is irrelevant, you’ll know them when you find them.
They’ll quietly respect and acknowledge your journey, but they’ll see you more for the new Mom that you are, the Mom you were always meant to be, and at this stage in your journey, deep in the trenches of new-baby-dom, that’s all that matters.
Sometimes I have to check myself as I go about my daily business and can’t quite fathom that this is my life now. It could be as simple as walking past a shop window where I catch my reflection and see that I am pushing an actual pram, which contains my own actual baby.
I still feel the disbelief sometimes, that she is finally here. And that’s ok because I know it means I’ll never become complacent, that I’ll never forget how truly precious this little angel is. And of course the anxiety still rears its ugly head every now and again- but isn’t this par for the course for every new parent?!
However the emotion that trumps it all, is the feeling of pure and utter joy. My baby’s birth couldn’t have gone any less to plan if I tried, but the feeling of holding her in my arms for the first time was like nothing I can ever describe.
All the pain and shittyness didn’t magically disappear, but more importantly it finally had a purpose, and here she was, staring right back at me. I’ll always identify as infertile. But now I also identify as Mom. I wear two hats, and that’s ok. It’s so important to me that friends, and even strangers who are going through infertility can relate to me. That my ‘success’ makes them feel hopeful and motivated.
I could never have anticipated how it would feel to finally be pregnant after so long. I was so disillusioned by the fight we had on our hands that I couldn’t even begin to imagine it. But I can safely say that holding our baby girl in my arms for the first time, and waking up to her little smiling face every single day ever since, I am at peace with everything we have been through. Everything happens for a reason, and I firmly believe that.
As they say, life is tough my darling, but so are you.