The loneliness of the first trimester
My therapist was the first person I told I was pregnant.
It happened on a Tuesday. I usually have therapy every Thursday but this week it was Thanksgiving so we switched days. I walked into her office, calmly sat down and before she could ask me how I was doing I blutered out "I'm pregnant." A month prior my husband and I were walking our dogs before heading out to dinner and a concert. The leaves in our neighborhood were all this gorgeous fire red color and covered the sidewalks and streets. Suddenly a feeling came over me that it was time to start family. I turned to him and said "I think we should start trying for a baby." I remember picking up a small autumn leaf that day and taking it home to remember that moment.
I had no idea if conceiving would be easy or hard for us. We had decided as a couple that going into pregnancy we wouldn't take any type of fertility tests prior to trying unless we were unable to conceive in the first six months. I have a history of hormonal imbalance and cysts on my ovaries so I knew there was a chance it could be tricky. We had also decided to not tell anyone we were trying. I didn't want the attention if I skipped a glass of wine at dinner with friends. I didn't want anyone asking me about it every month. I didn't want the self induced added pressure and anxiety.
I had decided to order a large package of pregnancy test strips to have on hand for the coming months. I didn't want to obsessively be running to the drugstore monthly if I was a day late. I knew for my personality it would be best to have them "just in case". I noticed I was about 5 days late but I had no hope that I would see those double pink lines. So when that second line appeared I started laughing. I didn't believe it. There was no way it could happen that fast. So I took another test. And another....... Pretty soon my bathroom floor was covered in tiny double pink lined strips of paper. "These things are expired" I thought. I jumped in my car and drove the 10 blocks up the street to the drug store to buy one of those $30 three packs. The ones that basically use the exact same kind of tests I had at home but have an added plastic stick around them. The fancy expensive kind. I remember shaking at the checkout line and preparing myself for disappointment when I got home. Again, those two pink lines appeared on all three of my shiny plastic covered pregnancy tests.
Every emotion I had ever felt in life rushed through me, but the one that hit me the hardest was guilt. I felt guilty for being pregnant. I felt guilty we had conceived so easily. I felt guilty that others that were trying were not pregnant yet. I felt guilty I had not told anyone that we were trying.
When I called my OB GYN's office and told them I had taken over 10 pregnancy tests that all came back positive I asked them if there could be a mistake. They assured me that was not possible and congratulated me. We set up an appointment for what would be my 9 week ultrasound and advised me to call them if I felt anything was wrong before then.
That felt like a loaded statement. How would I know if anything was wrong? I had never been pregnant before. So what else is a girl to do than rely on the internet for answers.
What a HUGE mistake.
I don't think I have seen a better example of "misery loves company" than on baby and pregnancy online chat forums.
For every first time mom that was posting concerns and questions were ten women hissing at her to stop complaining and that it sounded like "the exact same thing that happened to me before I miscarried."
Those first few months were the loneliest months of my life. It was holiday season and I was doing a fun dance of avoiding friends and family. My work was suffering and I had to lie that I was sick with the flu. I had to lie to a lot of people I care about. I had to lie to my best friend. I had to lie to my dad. I had to make endless excuses of why I couldn't attend a party or why I hadn't called back. I spent most of my time in bed feeling like I had the world's worst hangover while I read things online that I was probably having a miscarriage or something was wrong with my baby. Nothing seemed helpful or supportive and I had no one to talk to about what I was experiencing.
My husband and I decided to not tell anyone right away that we were expecting. I didn't want very many people knowing in case I miscarried. The fear had been installed that this would probably happen. We ended up sharing our news with the tiniest handful of people (mostly because I couldn't stand lying to them anymore) but we made it very clear this was not to be shared with others and to not get too excited because we would not be in the clear for another few months. We were both on edge and prepared for the worst.
Then we made it to our 9 week ultrasound. A small fraction of relief came over us when we saw our lil ones heart beat on the monitor and the outline of what looked like a tiny peanut. Suddenly it all felt very real. I was pregnant. Really pregnant. There was photo evidence I was growing something inside me. The last weeks of nausea and fatigue were for a bigger purpose. We were on the road to being able to confirm this exciting chapter in our life.
The next day we were scheduled to fly to Thailand for our very belated honeymoon. While my OB said it was perfectly safe for us to go I still was half ready to come back no longer pregnant. Our trip was bittersweet. I was coming out of my first trimester symptoms but the traveling was rough on my body. Every day I grew a little more confident in my pregnancy. I had the signs of the tiniest bump (which was probably just bloating but it was still exciting). I was feeling confident in our future as parents. We definitely had to forgo some things we had originally planned but we knew it was for the safety of our baby. OUR BABY. The little being that became more real, every day.
We had our 12 week ultrasound shortly after we returned from Thailand. This was it. This would confirm our baby was safe. That the odds of me miscarrying after this were very, very slim. That they could see and make sure the baby was forming correctly. I don't know if I have ever felt such a heavy weight lifted off my shoulders than when I heard his heartbeat. Than when I saw the actual formation of what looked like a person flicker on that screen. Than the feeling of my heart bursting as his little hand waved hello to us. This was our baby and we could finally tell everyone with absolute confidence. Our baby was no longer a secret. He would be a real human coming earthside soon.
Telling family and friends was supposed to be this amazing joyous moment for us but we were received with mixed emotions. I would love to say everyone was thrilled and responded with enthusiasm but that wasn't the case and unfortunately this seems common with other pregnant women/couples. It is disappointing since you don't know the feeling until you've experienced it. You don't know the months of being sick. The months of being paralyzed with the thought you'll lose your baby. The months of keeping a secret from people you love in order to protect yourself.
When there is a baby announcement there is so much more in the announcement than announcing a pregnancy. We're announcing that we've made it out of the dark and into the light. We're announcing our fears and dreams of becoming parents. We're announcing a leap into a new journey. A journey that started very lonely but now is meant to be filled with family, friends and love. A journey we are asking you to be a part of with us.
Our journey started with a walk on a fall day and will continue for many years to come. I no longer feel lonely but I ask anyone reading this to be kind to yourself or others who are just beginning their journey. We don't have to go it alone.