Some of you have guessed it. Others have wondered. And still others thought maybe I was enjoying my job as a food editor too much.
But the truth is…
I’m (finally) pregnant!
It’s been a long time coming — and honestly, I couldn’t hide it anymore, figuratively or literally. I officially can’t fit my jeans and the only thing I want for dinner is a Slurpee.
We haven’t shared the news with many people, mostly because we’ve had at least two miscarriages last year and we felt like everyone who was so excited for us suffered the loss, too.
I’m into my fifth month, with a delivery date sometime around the holidays. I know at 41 and having miscarried in the past, I’m not out of the woods yet. And, as we’ve heard from many couples, you can lose your baby at any stage of pregnancy. So we’re cautiously optimistic — but more optimistic every day.
Let me tell you, getting pregnant was NOT easy.
It involved way more than just a bottle of wine and a back rub.
We had tried for a couple of years, first on our own and then with the help of over-the-counter ovulation kits, online message boards, ovulation tracking apps on my iPhone and fertility specialists. I’ve had long conversations with other women — you’d be surprised how many! — who have struggled with infertility. Some never got pregnant, even with costly IVF (in vitro fertilization). Some are young, not even 30, and having trouble getting pregnant naturally. Some have had too many miscarriages to want to try again.
And then there were the ones who got pregnant after years of trying, the ones who kept with IVF and got pregnant, the ones who saw this as an opportunity to change their diet and lifestyle, the ones who decided to adopt, even the ones who never got pregnant but accepted it and have fulfilling lives without children.
All this gave me hope, that even if my husband and I never got pregnant, it would be OK. We have each other, three dogs, a great family and circle of friends, our health and the ability to live in a place where we can surf before work and hike whenever we want. It’s not a bad life, really.
To be honest, though, I knew getting pregnant in my late 30s would be challenging. But I didn’t know just how challenging.
You spend most your young adult life trying not to get pregnant, thinking it’s so easy. The reality is human reproduction isn’t that efficient, even when you’re young. There’s only one week in your cycle during which your odds are favorable — and who’s tracking that at 25?
Enter the 40s and your chances of getting pregnant — with or without help — are greatly diminished.
And that’s the truth. Even though people would say to me, with all the right intentions, “Oh, you’re still young, you still look good,” I’m reproductively old. I have fewer eggs and the quality of those eggs aren’t getting any better.
I knew all this — and yet, despite everything I had read and heard, I thought getting pregnant wouldn’t take two years, dozens of blood tests and urine samples, and multiple visits to the hospital.
We tried everything.
I downloaded two ovulation trackers on my iPhone — Period Tracker Lite and Glow (both free) — and carefully tracked every indicator of ovulation, from the length of my period to the stickiness of my cervical mucus. (Yes, I did that, too.)
I saw fertility specialists. I attended an IVF seminar. I read books and articles online. I took Clomid to stimulate my ovaries for a few menstrual cycles. I took prenatal vitamins and baby aspirin. We tried a couple of rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination) that’s colloquially called the “turkey baster method.” I even spent $300 to see a qi gong master who unlocked the negative energy that was hindering me from carrying a baby.
And still, nothing.
We got pregnant, but I couldn’t maintain the pregnancy.
Still, I didn’t give up hope. Not yet.
At some point, I knew I would have to stop trying. The process of just trying to get pregnant can take over your life. If you’re not waiting for an LH surge indicating your ovulation, you’re waiting for a positive (or negative) pregnancy test. All this waiting — particularly for an impatient Aries like me — is sheer agony. I couldn’t do this for much longer.
Luckily for me, I have a very patient and understanding husband who kept me calm throughout the entire process. He knew I was trying, he knew this was difficult, he knew I was riding an emotional roller coaster and we couldn’t do this forever.
Then, in April, on our trip to New Zealand, we found out we were pregnant.
We were happy, of course, but like any couple who’s suffered miscarriages, we were very cautious about that enthusiasm. I’ve miscarried just three days after finding out I was pregnant. So anything could happen.
I was 41. That meant 90 percent of my eggs were chromosomally abnormal, the leading cause of miscarriages within the first trimester. My uterine lining was thinning and the blood supply to it decreasing — thanks to age — making it more difficult for any egg to implant. I had a 5 to 8 percent chance of getting pregnant and a 50 percent of losing the embryo. These were not good odds.
And yet, every week, I was still pregnant. That gave me hope.
Then, at Week 6, I got an ultrasound and saw the little blob on the screen. “You’re definitely pregnant,” the nurse told me, beaming. I was still skeptical.
But weeks went on, and soon we heard a heartbeat, I started throwing up constantly, I hated the smell of smoked meat and fried chicken, and we saw something on the ultrasound that looked more like a human baby than a squid.
And it began to really sink in: I’m pregnant. I’m actually, really pregnant.
For now. I’m forever the realist. But I’m enjoying every painful twinge, every visit to the bathroom, every Slurpee I can get my hands on.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Promise, you’ll hear more soon.
Thanks to everyone who wrote, posted and shared their experiences about miscarriage with me, both publicly on the blog or social media or privately through emails and texts. It’s been so touching and inspiring.