Trying to conceive – this was a challenge for us. This is a journey that I want to share as early in this blogging process as possible. If you are currently in the midst of this special time in life, I encourage you to read on and know that you are not alone. It is a different journey for everyone – effortless for some, seemingly unreachable for others. Full of excitement and anticipation, disappointment and sadness, joy and love.
Alex and I were married in August of 2011. We’d been dating for six years, and had always known that we wanted to be parents. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when, a few months into marriage, Alex brought up the topic of starting a family. He wanted to get started… Right away.
I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t even close to being ready. We had both just finished college and had jobs, but not careers. We were living in a tiny one bedroom basement apartment and trying to get by in an expensive city while making just a little more than minimum wage and paying off student loans. I told him that I didn’t think we were ready, as a couple. Yes, we’d been together a lot longer than the average newlyweds, but we still had a lot of growing and learning to do.
The next three years saw a lot of change for us, and Alex was still anxious to move on to the next chapter. I went back to school. Towards the end of my second trimester, my period was late and I thought I was pregnant for sure. We’d gone through this so many times before, mostly because I was paranoid and tended to overreact, in this situation in particular.
But this time was different. This time, I wasn’t scared – I was excited. I recognized this change in myself and shared it with Alex. When my period started a few days later, I was disappointed. I told Alex that I was ready. I wanted to stop taking birth control and start trying to get pregnant. We were in pretty much the same place we had been three years ago – jobs, not careers; fresh out of school; one bedroom apartment – but I suddenly had a sense that, if we kept waiting for the external conditions to be perfect, it would never happen for us.
So, I stopped taking birth control and started taking folic acid. I talked to my doctor to make sure my body was in the perfect condition to conceive a child. I didn’t expect results immediately, of course. We figured somewhere between 4-6 months of trying would get the job done. We didn’t tell anyone. We smiled at each other everything someone made a comment along the lines of, “When are you two going to start popping out babies?”
Alex started to feel the disappointment much sooner than I did. After all, he’d spent the last three years secretly hoping that I’d get pregnant by accident. I kept telling myself, every month, that this just meant we had more time to get our lives together. More time to put effort into our jobs and get those promotions, which meant we could find a bigger apartment, and maybe even go on vacation.
Family members kept asking when we planned to start a family. Nobody seemed to pick up on our silent cues. We began to share with friends, and heard many stories of similar struggles. I found this growing community therapeutic – Alex began to feel hopeless. We drifted apart in our thinking and ways of dealing with the constant disappointment. Any time a friend or relative announced they were pregnant, I allowed myself to feel joy for them. Alex was happy, too, but it was harder for him to set aside his own sorrow. I started to feel so much guilt – I had made him wait, with the expectation that, when I was ready, it would happen right away.
We hit the one year mark, and started talking to our doctors about alternative methods and testing to see if there was anything wrong. The constant pressure from family members was getting to us, so we decided we would share our struggle with them soon. We started with our siblings, and then our parents. Everyone was so supportive. It might have been easier on us if we’d been open from the beginning. Looking back, I think we held off because we wanted to give them that big surprise. Maybe we also wanted to be able to interact with people without seeing the question in their eyes, “Has she gained weight?” “Is she under the weather, or…?” (Who am I kidding – those unspoken questions were always lurking anyways.)
I became so attuned to my body – every single slight deviation from my regular patterns was examined; I was overthinking everything. I would share my suspicions with friends rather than Alex, for fear of getting his hopes up and then leaving him disappointed again.
The results were in – no obvious reasons as to why we had, so far, been unable to conceive. We were about to start a second round of testing, and had begun to seriously investigate IVF and other alternative methods. But we were feeling so far apart, so divided and disconnected. We decided to take a break and take some time to reconnect and enjoy ourselves again. So, we took September of 2015 off. The pressure was off. People had stopped asking questions out of respect (except my sisters-in-law, who were my gentle cheerleaders). We started making plans for 2016 – our 5th year of marriage, and Alex would be celebrating his 30the birthday that March. We decided we would make it our best year yet.
Thanksgiving rolled around, and we were both feeling much better about life. We were actually thankful for everything we had – our friends, our family, our jobs, a roof over our heads. We celebrated with family, even though I wasn’t feeling top notch that weekend. I chalked it up to my expected period, due sometime over the next two weeks (my cycle was never consistent). I came down with the worst cold I’d had in a long time, and ended up missing three days of work. I was congested, had a migraine, ached all over (even my boobs), was nauseous and so exhausted that I just could not make myself get out of bed.
I started feeling better towards the end of that week. On Friday night, we watched a pivotal Jays’ game. I don’t remember why it was pivotal – just that it was important enough to break out my Toronto Blue Jays shirt in support. I’m pretty sure they lost.
The next morning, I woke up feeling nauseous again. I made a comment along the lines of, “UGH. Why won’t this nausea go away?” Alex looked at me sideways. “When are you supposed to get your period?” he asked. I shrugged and said, “Sometime soon.” Then he said the words I’d come to dread: “You should take a test.”
“No,” I said, “We’re taking a break, remember? I’m not pregnant.”
“Ok, but, you did say that your boobs hurt.”
They DID still hurt, I thought to myself.
“Ok, fine.” I said. I figured it couldn’t hurt. It’d be negative and he’d be disappointed, but we had to plans to go to my sister’s place later that day for more sportsing (yeah, that’s right – “Sportsing”) and that would distract him. So I peed on a stick and made myself busy around the apartment for three minutes, then went to check the result.
I couldn’t have stopped the next words from coming out of my mouth to save my life: “HOLY SHIT.” Alex came running. “It’s positive.” He didn’t believe me. I showed him. “Like, that’s a solid line. That’s the most positive pregnancy test I’ve ever seen!” The look he gave me in that moment… I can’t describe it to you. I decided to test again, this time with a test that’s supposed to say how far along you are. And that little Digital screen read “Pregnant 2-3 weeks”.
We snapped this obnoxious picture if ourselves, in which Alex looks rather blank and I look rather crazy:
I sent it to my sisters-in-law and they may have thought we were pranking them. Heck, I thought God was pranking us.
From that moment onwards, I just kept thinking it was too good to be true. I knew that miscarriage was a high likelihood, but I am so thankful that, today, I can say that I have never had to experience it. To those of you who have – I am so sorry for your loss and hardship. I can’t imagine the pain you have experienced.
This was our journey. We want to have more children, but I don’t know if we can. We may have gotten extremely lucky. We’ll certainly try again, and do our best to be thankful for what we already have.
Thank you for reading and sharing in this part of our lives. I welcome you to share your stories, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.