I hate pregnancy.
Yeah, I know, it’s a like a cardinal sin for a pregnant person to say that. The third time was the charm this go round, two chemical pregnancies and a “sticky” pregnancy. (I wish it had been this easy the first time.)
In my defense, I decided I hate pregnancy when I wasn’t pregnant. I was recalling my pregnancy with my twins. There was a time when I was beginning to get really uncomfortable physically—I believe there is no “honeymoon period” in a twin pregnancy because your body expands so rapidly—and I rubbed my belly and told my boys I just couldn’t wait to see their faces and wished they were here now. But holy crap, I DIDN’T MEAN IT like that!!
Probably 3 hours before I was admitted to the hospital in preterm labor, a stranger gawked at me with wide eyes and asked when I was due, implying I looked ready to pop. Cruelly timed comments have a way of sticking with you.
Going through all the pregnancy crap and getting nothing out of it. It sucks, you guys.
My body image suffered (suffers) a lot postpartum. I recall one of my friends discussing her still-swollen postpartum belly, wearing it as a badge of honor marking her as a mother. I think that is a really healthy mentality. It just sucks when your belly is tiger-striped and lumpy and your arms are empty. My belly folds over now. It’s very weird. And I COULD DEAL WITH IT, I could, if I had a baby, because that’s all that would matter, a price I’d pay.
My hobby is working out. I’m not badass, but I enjoy it. I enjoy it even now that I look fat, traipsing around the gym in clothes that show off how unglamorous my body has become, and I continue to work out for the mood-elevating effects rather than to lose weight. Not that I don’t want to lose the baby weight, I do. I mostly returned to my prepregnancy eating habits, though I admit not with the same discipline. It’s hard to make yourself lose weight when you know that at some point you are going to get pregnant and gain it back again. It’s really messing with my head. Even my ob/gyn, who is FIXATED unhelpfully on BMI, advised me to lose the weight before I try to conceive again. She said it with a look on her face as though she knew I was going to ignore her advice. I am just one of those people who turns into a crazy, ravenous beast when pregnant. Intellectually, I understand I don’t need a huge surplus of calories, but it’s hard to remember that when I’m too hungry (hangry, really) to think about anything else.
Okay, I’m digressing. Anyway. Today at the gym there were two things that upset me.
First, I am afraid. I am afraid that I will be too afraid to work out this time. I am also afraid that even if I’m not too afraid to, my body won’t be able to handle working out. Officially, my preterm labor was caused by an infection (presumed GBS) per the pathology report on my placentas, and because my cervix was “long and closed” per exam and ultrasound a week prior to birth. That being said, I was enormous and carrying so low it was causing edema in my legs (secondary to my lymph system being physically squashed, NOT preeclampsia). Is it possible my body just can’t handle being that pregnant? Of course I had toned down exercise to very tame stuff compared to my nonpregnant self, but was even that too much? Should I have gone on bed rest as soon as the edema appeared sometime around 20-22 weeks? I last worked out 5 days prior to going into preterm labor; shouldn’t I have felt something? But I didn’t; I felt great. I am worried about either being too afraid or physically unable to work out… because I love it. It grounds me. Exercise is a natural mood booster. Even when I don’t want to go, I know I will feel better afterward and be grateful I went. I am also afraid that I will forget how awesome working out is, and that I won’t make the effort to return to the gym after…. however this pregnancy ends.
The second upset was a strong flashback. I was sitting quietly in a corner, waiting for my class to begin. I was supposed to be warming up but that early pregnancy exhaustion is hitting me and I just. didn’t. want to. Fifteen feet away from me, someone dropped a barbell loaded with very heavy weight. The SLAM as it hit the floor. That slam would always get the boys moving. There was a competition day I went to observe, and though I couldn’t participate, I was tickled at how the barbells hitting the floor made the boys do flips inside me. I was so blissfully happy then. I don’t know if I will ever have that again, not during pregnancy.
So maybe you can understand that I hate pregnancy. Months of suffering, months of joy, permanently altering your body with no guarantee of the fabled take-home baby.
And now the real grief work begins. I knew it would be hardest when I got pregnant again. In our most recent neonatal loss group meeting, I finally felt like I had a breakthrough, like I would be okay. I was able to tell our story without crying. But I knew that things would change.
With so many chemical pregnancies, I don’t really have a fear of miscarriage. For better or worse, I feel like my ute is almost too picky about who she lets implant in her snobby cushioning. But I will wait through this first trimester with a sense of foreboding, fearing my own personal hell hurdle: the second trimester. Every milestone of this pregnancy will be shadowed by my fear that I will lose him or her (or them) in the second trimester. Feel the kicks, feel the personality, and then lose everything.
Which brings me also to the “twin thing.” Statistically, the odds of conceiving twins twice is low. So it seems melodramatic for me to fixate on the fear that I might be carrying twins, but like so many people I’ve come to know on Twitter, once you’re on the shit end of a statistic, “low probability” is still something to acknowledge. Shortly after our loss, my husband and I sat in the perinatologist’s office and were advised to perhaps consider selective reduction if I conceive twins again. Not something to be taken lightly. DH is adamantly opposed to it. I don’t want to end a wanted life either, but I do also acknowledge that one surviving baby is better than two micropreemies that don’t. I could be throwing myself into research, but I can’t. I can’t even deal with this possibility unless I absolutely am faced with it. Which is why I scheduled an early scan at 5.5 weeks. The staff at my clinic were baffled: “there’s nothing to see that early” – but au contraire, ignorant people. One lump or two?