My fertility journey began in Feb 2016. My husband and I had decided to start trying to conceive in June. But on Feb 21st, just 2 weeks after starting a new job, I found out I was pregnant. My initial reaction was shock and hysteria. I wasn’t ready to be pregnant. After a week of feeling this way, my attitude shifted. Once we shared the news with our families, it started to feel more real and my initial concerns turned into excitement. My body changed: my boobs grew, I gained weight, and the nausea kicked in. We started making plans for our new life. At our 8-week appointment, we saw the baby’s heartbeat. I cried.
Then everything changed on a weekend in late April. The following day I was set to hit the 12-week mark. My husband and I went to Central Park with friends. I went to the bathroom and noticed a little blood. We decided it was probably nothing, but that we’d go to the hospital to get checked out. Since it was a Sunday, we had to go to the ER (read: multi-hour wait time). Finally, the ultrasound technician came in and told me “everything looks fine, we see the heartbeat, but the baby is only measuring 8 weeks”. I said, “that’s impossible, I’m 12 weeks tomorrow.” She replied, “well, sometimes measurements are off.” She then went to get the radiologist. When she returned, she told me that there had been a mistake: there was no heartbeat and that I had a missed miscarriage. At first, I couldn’t understand what she said. The word ‘miscarriage’ was not even in my vocabulary.
But soon enough, my doctor came in and confirmed the bad news. I curled up in a ball on the hospital bed and cried. My husband cried. My sister cried. We called our parents. Everyone drove in to be with us. We waited in the tiny hospital room for another three hours so I could get the D & C procedure. At that point, we had been there for almost 8 hours. The sadness I felt was like nothing I had ever experienced. I felt loss beyond words. I felt disappointment that my journey was ending abruptly. I felt nervous that I had done something wrong or that there was something wrong with me. It was the worst day of my life.
As I recovered, I spent time with my husband, family, and close friends. It was nice to be with the people I love, but it was difficult to be around people who had babies or were pregnant. With each day that passed, I cried a little less. One of the only things that helped me feel better was to speak with other women who had gone through similar experiences. It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. In one month, I got my period and started to become a bit more hopeful.
That month, we went on an all-out crusade to get pregnant. And then the two-week wait set in. Every day crawled by. Finally, two days before my period was due, I took my first pregnancy test. And…nothing. I buried the negative pregnancy test in the garbage and cried the entire way to work. I took another test the next morning and it was negative. I was inconsolable.
I found the name of a therapist and booked an appointment for that week. Then I waited for my period to come. The day it was due came and went. Fast forward three full days, and I decided to take another test. And then I saw it. The second pink line. It appeared almost immediately. There was no mistaking it.
The first trimester was difficult as the weeks went by slowly and my fear of loss was palpable. My doctors let me come in to hear the heartbeat almost every week, which helped alleviate some of my anxiety. At 10 weeks, we found out it was a boy. We were over the moon. Now in my third trimester, I look back on this past year as being the most difficult, but also the most incredible of my life. Our loss has brought my husband and I closer than ever. It was the first real tragedy we had endured as a couple, and seeing his strength, support and unconditional love in such a trying time, made me love him in a whole new way. In many ways, I am grateful for the experience- because it has made this pregnancy that much more special. Every day that I wake up and feel the baby move is a blessing.
I am thankful for every backache and stretch mark. I never complain, and I love my growing belly.
Before I had my son, nearly two years ago, I had a lot of ideas of what type of mom I was going to be. I have been babysitting since I was 12 years old, and have a handful of nieces and nephews, all of whom I saw multiple times per week. My experience with children was vast and varied and I was quick to judge other moms I saw who were doing things I deemed to be less than ideal.
Before I had my son, I determined that he would be a cultured and curious eater. While I was pregnant with him, I read books on baby-led-weaning and how to introduce salmon at the tender age of 5 months. I bought books on how to make homemade baby purees and how to properly prepare legumes vs. poultry. I envisioned my little family of three, sitting around the table, eating homemade meals together calmly, every night of the week. Fast forward to Jacob’s first birthday, when I realized those dreams of serene suppers would have to wait a few years- because, he’s just not a great eater.
He likes a handful of foods, some of which, I would have NEVER dreamed of letting him eat, before having him. Chicken fingers, fish sticks, Eggo waffles, goldfish crackers and French fries are all on auto-reorder on my weekly Fresh Direct account. Sure, he also eats scrambled eggs, homemade cheeseburgers and turkey meatballs, but he also eats squeezy yogurt filled with sugar, and you know what- I’m ok with it. He’s in the 33% for weight, and at this point in his life, my biggest concern is that he is getting enough calories and a somewhat balanced diet.
Recently, a friend of mine (who does not have children), sat with me at lunch, while Jacob ate chicken fingers and French fries and said, “you let him eat that crap?”. At first I was slightly offended, because Jacob is so skinny, I wanted to shout back, “fuck yes I let him eat that crap- it has fat and protein in it right?”. But instead I took a deep breath, and realized, that was me 2 years ago- opining on what other moms and parents fed their kids. I don’t blame them, it’s so easy to look at others and place judgement.
Before I had my son, I was convinced I would be an expert work-life-friends-family-mom balancer. I looked at my friends with kids who seemed chained to their houses and never got out. I also saw my friends who worked long hours and traveled for work, and missed most week night dinners and bath times with their very little children. I will be the queen of it all! I thought to myself while pregnant. Fast forward to when Jacob was born, and I realized I didn’t want to go out on weeknights at all. I limited my plans SEVERELY (sometimes to my detriment). I NEVER made dinner plans with my friends during the week, and stopped all attempts at exercising (not that I wanted to do that anyway), because I wanted to be home with my baby every night. After 1.5 years, I have vowed to make more weeknight plans with my friends and co-workers. I am committing to one night a weekday, to spending outside of my apartment.
Not that I was a total failure, my husband and I have been doing Saturday night date night since Jacob was born, which we both love, but on the personal time front, there is certainly room for improvement. I’ve realized that it’s ok to want to stay home to be with him. And a big part of not making plans is that dreaded feeling of mom guilt, when I leave him. I know its not logical, but it’s how I feel.
Before I had my son, I promised he would never watch TV before the age of 2. Well, once we realized that he absolutely hated the car seat, and the only way we could get him to not scream at the top of his lungs in the car, was to give him an ipad, that rule went out the window. Now he associates going in the car with watching TV, and he actually loves it. Sure, I can’t go 20 blocks without bringing an iPad and making sure Little Baby Bums is downloaded on my Netflix account, but, there are worse things in the world. And he still doesn’t watch TV at home, so in my mind that’s a small parenting win, (even if it’s just me telling myself that).
Before I had my son I had dreams of him being uber-stylish, wearing cute layered workshirts over vintage rock and roll t-shirts. I imagined walking into Fred’s for lunch, and strangers cooing at how adorable his outfits were. I have no idea why I pictured this being my life, I pride myself on not caring at all about designer clothes, I legitimately hate shopping, and hardly ever have lunch at Fred’s. But- nonetheless, I found myself looking down upon other moms who toted their kids around in beat-up leggings and generic shirts from The GAP.
Then I had Jacob. And I realized, its not realistic for an active toddler to wear dry-clean-only cashmere sweaters and hand-knit onesies. The best part of my apartment is my washer dryer because I literally do 2 loads of laundry a day. He goes through at least 3 daily outfit changes (after every meal), and the vast majority of his clothes are generic tops from H and M, Zara and Target. And you know what, he looks cute in whatever he wears, and it really doesn’t matter.
Before I had my son, I was quick to judge, quick to proclaim that I would never do certain things, and quick to envision the type of mom I would be. The truth is, having a kid is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s tested my patience and pushed me in so many ways to be more compassionate, more open, more accepting (of myself and others) and more honest. I am so grateful for every small lesson I’ve learned these past almost 2 years.
To all the other moms out there- good job. We are all just doing the best we can, and that’s pretty damn good. And to all the other quietly judgemental moms-to-be… just you wait =)