Most people have a general outline of how they would like their life to go, right? They probably take lots of time to weigh out all of the pros and cons of big decisions, and aim to do things in order of what follows a timeline.
Then there are people like me – impulsive, stubborn, determined, don’t-look-back kind of people. I am just about the most indecisive person I have ever met, and I cope with that by running with my ideas as soon as I get them – before I have the opportunity to change my mind. Often times it has worked out for me, many times it hasn’t, but I believe either result has helped me grow as a person, so there’s my justification.
On Valentine’s Day in 2016, Ian and I hopped out of our city limits and enjoyed a romantic dinner at Cutters Crabhouse followed by an overnight stay at The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle. I can’t say whether it was the several glasses of red wine or the handsome man sitting across the table from me that sparked the conversation about wanting a baby, but we dove right into it. We talked about names, family traditions, parenting styles, and all of the fun we would have with a miniature version of us running around. It was such an easy conversation to have, and a subject that we had visited quite often- but never as serious as it was that evening.
One month later, I was pregnant! It was as if we blinked and everything we had talked about suddenly got real. How was that so easy? What does one do when they find out they are pregnant? (That was the first of many Google searches to come). I followed directions and went online to search for OBGYN’s. The results were overwhelming. So, I did what I always do when I can’t make my mind up – I pointed at the first one I saw and went with it. When I called, I was told I couldn’t be seen until I was at least 8 weeks along. It kind of left me with a funny feeling. Something gave off this, “you aren’t really pregnant until you get past this threshold” vibe. That was my first lesson in pregnancy – it isn’t taken very seriously until you reach a certain point. Nonetheless, I decided to relish in my own excitement and figure out how I was going to tell Ian. After looking at the Due-Date-Predictor in my freshly downloaded pregnancy app, I learned that our baby was due on Thanksgiving – so naturally, I went out and bought a turkey to have in our oven when Ian got home from work. Get it? Turkey in the oven? He thought it was clever.
We went on a spontaneous getaway to the ocean with the the dogs to celebrate. The entire weekend was filled with so much love, excitement, and new conversation about our BABY! The day we arrived home, the completely unthinkable (to us) had happened, and I discovered I was having a miscarriage. Everything came shattering down harder than anything we’d ever experienced. I made the dreadful call back to the OBGYN so they would cancel my appointment, and I was asked to come in immediately for a blood test to confirm that my HGC levels were decreasing (this is when I first learned what HCG levels were, and that in a thriving pregnancy, the levels rise). I waited in the lobby for what felt like the loneliest hour of my life past the scheduled appointment time. I finally got my blood drawn and met with the OB on completely different terms than I had originally planned for. We had a long conversation about miscarriage, and she gave me some perspective and courage that I would be back in her office soon, under better circumstances. I left the appointment feeling numb. It was absolutely, without a doubt, the worst week of my entire life. This is a very condensed version of how it all really happened – but I will spare you that story for a rainy day.
Fast forward two months, we went on a camping trip with the dogs to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It was a long drive, so naturally we (I) talked the entire time while Ian took the wheel. During the drive, we talked about a trip to New York and Washington D.C. that we had coming up a few months from then. We both agreed it would actually be a good thing if I weren’t pregnant during that trip, because I would be able to eat whatever I wanted and experience all of the breweries we had planned to visit. Despite the fact that 8 weeks had already gone by, it was the first positive feeling I had about not being pregnant since the miscarriage. Something felt good about taking control of a situation that felt so incredibly out of my hands for quite some time, and deciding to push all things baby-related off the table until after our trip.
When we arrived home from camping, I saw that I had one last pregnancy test sitting in the cabinet. I felt no need to stare at it every day, so I made the decision to get rid of it once and for all. With absolutely zero expectation, and without even mentioning it to Ian, I took the test.
I was pregnant! Of course, I wiped my eyes a few times to make sure what I was seeing was real. What was our first reaction? We were scared. Excited. Anxious. In complete disbelief. We just looked at each other and laughed with tears filling our eyes. The whole talk we had on our drive home felt so silly. Who were we kidding? We were THRILLED! I had never been so excited to sip on ice cold water while everyone around me enjoys beer from some of New York’s best bars and breweries on our upcoming trip.
I think it is safe to say that, for most, pregnancy after loss is an entirely different experience. For me, it was like a dark cloud of worry constantly hanging over a rainbow of excitement. Good days meant I had morning sickness and intense food aversions, because it was a sign that I was still pregnant. There were many sleepless nights leading up to all of my ultrasound appointments, and a sigh of temporary relief every time that fluttery heart appeared on the screen. It meant holding back as long as possible to create a registry in hopes of not getting ahead of myself. So. Much. Napping. Even when I wasn’t tired – just to make the days go by quicker – because every day that went by was another day of having that baby in my belly.
More than any of that, pregnancy after loss is truly the most humbling experience. It defines gratefulness in a whole new way. It gives hope an entirely new meaning. It creates an extravagant appreciation for the smallest victories and the most simple milestones. It changed us in so many good ways. I think one of the biggest lessons learned throughout this whole journey is that we can’t always control every aspect of our lives or the order in which it all happens. Sometimes, life will throw you curveballs… mentally, physically, and emotionally draining ones that you will never make sense of. Other times, life will give you everything you could ever want when you least expect it – even when you have talked yourself out of wanting it anymore. Sometimes, life decides when you are ready.