Thursday, October 25, 2012

48 Hours of Pregnancy

It was almost an afterthought that I bought the pregnancy test.  I was at CVS, letting the boys run up and down the aisles, when Casey ran into the "Family Planning" section.  As I bent down to pick him up, my nose nearly hit the "First Response" box.  It was then that I thought to myself, Hmmm, my period is a bit late, isn't it?  Without really thinking, I grabbed the box and purchased it along with two matchbox cars. 

Later that afternoon the water was boiling on the stove when I escaped for a rare moment to myself in the bathroom.  I unwrapped the box, did the deed, and left the test to sit for a bit while I finished making pasta.  A half hour later I went to check it and my knees nearly buckled. 




Apart from the huge implications that this had,  I have to say I was a bit satisfied.  After all, who likes to fail a test?  Even when you really want to fail a test?  Yes, the Type A part of me was very pleased. 

The rest of me was shaking almost uncontrollably.  I felt faint. 

The first call was to my husband.  No, I'm not kidding.  No, really I'm not. 

The second call was to my psychiatrist.  How do I get off of these meds?  How am I going to sleep tonight?

The third call was to my best friend.  And that's when the tears started. 

I don't want to seem ungrateful.  I know that some people have a hard time getting pregnant, and would do anything for two lines on that stick.  I know what a miracle pregnancy is and that no matter what I would love that child more than anything.  I know that our family would make it work and that someday I would look back and think, thank God it happened that way. 

But this was a surprise - a HUGE surprise - and in that moment, I felt lost.  I felt out of control.  I felt overwhelmed and shocked and stupid and guilty.  It wasn't supposed to be like this.  Not yet.  Not now. 

Every other time I have gotten pregnant it has been planned to a T.  It didn't always happen exactly when I wanted (it took a few months both times), but I was braced and ready.  I was pumped with folic acid and cleansed of prescription drugs and alcohol.  Those two lines were celebrated with excitement and anticipation and hope.  The fact that I didn't feel this way last Thursday made it even worse.  I felt guilty for not giving the child that was smaller than a sesame seed the respect and love that he/she deserved. 

I went on the internet and figured out the due date. June 22. The Chinese fertility calendar predicted it would be a boy (of course).  This is real, I said out loud.  This is real. 

The night had to go on.  I fed the kids, and then headed to my first work event, which happened to be a happy hour.  I drove downtown stone faced, on autopilot.  I arrived at the happy hour and ordered an orange juice.  I mingled and made small talk and high tailed it out of there as soon as it was socially appropriate.  I honestly can't remember what I talked about. 

I went to bed that evening knowing it would be a rough night.  On top of the natural anxiety flowing from the day's events, sleep had not been coming easily to me as is.  And sleeping pills weren't an option.  I ended up falling asleep around 2:30am, after a few hours of contemplating how we were going to rearrange the bedrooms to accommodate the new baby. 

Friday brought on a depression of sorts.  I was coming to terms with my reality, and in the process, having an internal temper tantrum as I considered the implications of what it meant to be pregnant again. 

Wah, I can't eat sushi!  Wah, I can't drink wine!  Wah, I'm going to get fat!  Wah, I'll never lose the weight again and I'll have to get a tummy tuck! Wah, I'm going to have to cancel our summer vacation!  Wah, it's going to be another three years before I have all my kids in school and actually get a few hours to myself! 

My thoughts were selfish and shameful, the acknowledgement of which only made me feel worse.  But I had to put on a brave face.  Family was in town for Casey's birthday, and there was no time for moping. 

Then the spotting started.  And the bleeding.  And the cramping. 

And on Saturday, Casey's birthday, when said family thought I was out running errands, I instead went to Sibley Hospital to find out what was going on. 

I don't know exactly what I hoped for by going to the ER.  All I really wanted was a blood test.  Was I pregnant or not?  Could I drink saki that evening at Benihana or not? 

When I checked in at triage and described what was going on, the nurse asked me a question:  Do you want to be pregnant? 

I paused - longer than I should have.  Not necessarily, I answered.  And I realized, despite all my moping and whining and lack of gratitude for this surprise in my life, that I had not even really asked myself that direct question.  Did I want this?  Even if I didn't know I did? 

The blood test confirmed a chemical pregnancy.  The HCG was barely detectable, and at that point, the urine test had turned negative. 

I had saki with dinner. 

And later that night, after all the family went to bed, I cried big, heavy tears. 

I cried for the baby that I was so hostile to, that I was so ungrateful for.  I cried for the baby that I knew I would come to love.  That I knew in probably just a few days, I would come to be excited for.  I cried for the miracle of pregnancy that had been so fleeting.  I cried for myself and for my husband and for the drama and ups and downs we had experienced in 48 hours.  I cried for the possibility that maybe this would be my last pregnancy - that there would never be another sesame seed that would grow into a baby that would change my life, our lives.  I cried for getting older, for my aging eggs and my close proximity to advanced maternal age.  I cried for time and for the rawness and realness of life and what it all means.  I cried for it all just being too much.

The next day we celebrated Casey's birthday.  We bid farewell to our parents.  We resigned to tighten our birth control methods.  And life goes on. 

As I process my feelings about what happened, and what it means for the future, I have also contemplated whether I should keep this a secret.  Should I tell friends?  Family?  The internet? 

There seem to be a notion that women should keep this kind of thing a secret - a private matter.  It's not the kind of thing that people talk about over dinner conversation.  In the same way that women don't like to reveal pregnancy until the first trimester is over, when the risks of miscarriage go down, we women don't like to have to admit defeat.  That our bodies let us down.  That we just couldn't get it done.  Though it isn't explicit, there is a sense of shame about it.  Because after all, isn't that what most secrets are based in?  Shame? 

What are we so afraid of? 

So here I am, stating it loud and proud, I had a crappy week last week.  And I lost a sesame seed that could have turned into a baby. 


If anyone is looking for a great blog that deals with pregnancy loss, I highly recommend Small Bird Studios.  Truly inspirational. 


  1. Wow, what an emotional roller coaster! I'm so glad you chose to share this and I'm sure it will resonate and encourage everyone who reads it, especially those who've lost a little seed of their own.

  2. I am also glad you decided to share. I'm thinking of you - this mix of feelings is more than a little confusing, I'm sure. You will find your way to process it - meanwhile, I'm sorry you were hit with it.

  3. Thanks for this. I had a chemical pregnancy last month and had difficulty dealing with it. We are trying again this month, so fingers crossed.

  4. I cried reading this--for all the emotions and the honesty. Hugs.

  5. I am so sorry for the loss you endured and all the emotions this experience brought on you. There just aren't words. I am glad to see you talking about it, because you are so right - women feel shame when really there should be open arms, understanding and love. Sending big hugs to you xx

  6. Hugs. This has happened to me twice and it was very emotional. I also found that people didn't understand - I actually had someone tell me I was "barely pregnant" so what was the big deal? The fact is a loss is a loss and it can be very hard to deal with. Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. I've had losses at 6 weeks and 18 weeks. It isn't something that anyone can understand until they experience it. And once you do, you realize how often and how much people take for granted the miracle of a full term healthy pregnancy. I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Thanks for sharing. It's completely normal and common...the physical aspects and emotional. I'm not sure why its so secret most of the time. Sending love your way.

  9. Thanks so much for all the messages of support! I really appreciate the postitive thoughts. :)

  10. I have become terrible about commenting on blogs (a side effect of no longer being allowed to read them at work and loathing to type with my iPhone screen), but I had to on here because (1) I am so sorry, and (2) this is one of the most beautifully perfectly written posts I've read in a long time. You've described yourself, your emotions, and then the reality around you so well... I am so glad you shared. I hope it helped to write it out and I hope you can feel all of our good thoughts coming your way.


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