Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

Pregnancy After Miscarriage
Stephanie Chockley

The week after September 11, I told everyone I was pregnant. I was 11 weeks along, and it just seemed like the right time to let everyone know. We all needed some good news. The week after that I started spotting. I went to the doctor for an ultrasound. “I’m so sorry—there’s no baby.” I sobbed hysterically while the doctor explained that I had a blighted ovum. This meant the egg and sperm had come together and told my body I was pregnant, but hadn’t grown. I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe my body would betray me like this. I had reveled in my nausea, gained five pounds snacking to stave off heartburn, indulged my exhaustion with naps and early bedtimes, and I had never really been pregnant. How could this be? How could I tell everyone that I had been mistaken when I announced I was pregnant? I felt so stupid; I let myself feel all of it, even though it wasn’t really happening. I got everyone all excited, and now I had to let them all down. I had admitted to myself just how important it was to me, had let myself be vulnerable to it, only to be let down by it. When I confided these feelings to those closest to me, they made me feel stupid for feeling stupid. But I did. I believed my body, and it had lied to me. I wanted to be pregnant, but I had failed.

My body healed from the D&C, I waited a few months, and then tried again. As it turns out, we’re a pretty fertile couple and it happened on the first try. I tried not to get excited, tried to be nonchalant, but within hours of seeing two pink lines I already had my due date worked out and my hopes up. I was surprised by how intense my excitement was, even though I wanted to have my guard up. A few days later, Wednesday, was my husband Chip’s 30th birthday—I used the designated driver excuse to explain why I wasn’t drinking. The next day at work the bleeding started during lunch. Different than the last time—heavy like a period, with the same type of cramping. I don’t know how I drove home—it started to really hurt, and I couldn’t stop crying. Somehow I made it and got Chip to come home too. I couldn’t believe how upset I was. I just missed my period last week! If I hadn’t been trying, I might have just thought I was having a late period. But no, I was looking for this, and I knew exactly what was happening. I thought to myself that at least no one knew, so I was spared the humiliation of explaining this again. I went to the doctor on Friday and that night I made up for the birthday sobriety. I didn’t tell anyone until Sunday, when I called my mom. I called my best friend, Tiffany, on Monday and asked her to tell the rest of our friends. For some reason I was too ashamed to explain it all again. Like last time, no one could understand why I was embarrassed by this. I couldn’t explain it either. I just felt like I had failed. Knowing it happened to lots of other women didn’t help me any. Why didn’t anyone ever talk about it if it wasn’t something to be ashamed of?

The feeling of failure subsided, but it took longer this time. I waited a few months, and started trying again. In September I started a new job, and decided we should back off until I got settled in there. Too late! Two weeks after my job started, I missed my period. I scheduled my first doctor’s appointment at what we thought was six weeks. She did an ultrasound, and it wasn’t big enough for six weeks or to see the heart beating. Great. I was already pessimistic, so this didn’t shock me, but I was again amazed by how upset I was. Don’t panic, the doctor said. Come back in a week and we’ll see— the dates could just be off. That was a pretty long week. The day of the next appointment I was so nervous that I made myself sick. I cried all day (my new coworkers thought I was nuts), anticipating the worst. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen during the ultrasound. But they insisted I look, so I could see the heartbeat for myself. I didn’t know if I felt relief or more anxiety. Every month I cried and threw up all day on doctor appointment day. Every time I held my breath waiting for them to find the heartbeat. I really let my past experiences influence this pregnancy. For the first 20 weeks I didn’t enjoy being pregnant as much as I wanted to, mainly because I didn’t feel I could trust it. My body had let me down before. But the ultrasound at 21 weeks finally gave me some relief. I know plenty of people who don’t want to know the sex of the baby, but for me it was really important. It somehow made it all real to know that it was a boy, to call him “Connor” rather than “it.” I left the doctor’s office and called everyone I knew to announce the good news. For me it was like finally admitting I was pregnant—I didn’t get excited for the first announcement, but I let spreading the news that it was a squirming, healthy boy make up for it. After that I let my guard down and embraced pregnancy. Connor Stephen Chockley was born on June 24 at 9:06 p.m.

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