On July 4th, 2018 my phone rang. “CONGRATULATIONS! You’re pregnant! Your beta hCG test came back at 1043.” I’m sure the nurse thought I didn’t care, because I didn’t get excited. I didn’t cry, I didn’t get emotional, I just said thank you and asked what was next. The thing was, I had already known for ten days that I was pregnant.
Most clinics discourage early at-home testing because of the trigger shot giving false positives or as a means for a patient not to have to be subjected to the pain of a chemical pregnancy. Our clinic specifically wouldn’t do beta tests until five weeks on the dot, so that a chemical pregnancy could be ruled out, but I, like a lot of IVF patients, could not wait a full 16 days after my transfer to know.
I mean we’ve already waited so long, my patience was gone.
I took my first test at five days post five-day transfer and to my surprise, a very faint line showed up. I tried to keep it from Aaron so I could surprise him, but he knows me too well.
I took close to 15 more tests over the next 10 days because seeing the lines getting darker was what I had dreamed of over the last four years, since our first miscarriage in 2014. When you spend four years staring at tests that are always negative there is a weird joy and satisfaction in seeing two beautiful lines progressing to the point where you know the test line cannot possibly get any darker. But part of the testing comes out of fear— the fear that it’s all a dream and you will wake up one day, take a test, and it’ll all be over.
Fear can so easily define a pregnancy after miscarriage and infertility.
All of this is so scary because of what it seems to always bring. That’s why we do the things we do, blog about it, cry about it, and sometimes laugh about it, but hey, that’s normal. It’s not the life we chose but a life we embrace because we have no choice. One day, our time will come.
I struggled with writing this blog. All day I found ways to distract myself from doing it. After supper, I did the dishes, which I had planned to leave for Aaron, but because it was another way to not have to sit down and write this all out, I did them. Aaron took that opportunity to sit down at my iPad and fill in some of my blanks.
Like the paragraph above, it’s so easy to forget that it’s not just the women who feel that pain, but because of the society we live in, it’s easy to bypass a man’s right to grieve the same loss. When I read through the bits he wrote, it reminded me of so many of the small reasons I love him. It also reminded me of just how much he feels all of this. As I was reading his share of this post, he told me “it started as a laugh, but then I really got in to it.”
When I first started blogging he wasn’t on board, because we’d be sharing such an intimate part of our lives, but as the support poured in, followed by messages from people who had lost hope, but no longer felt alone, he was just as invested in my sharing our journey as I was— the joy, the sadness, the fear, the longing.
That all leads us to my main topic: handling a due date when you are no longer due.
March 5th, 2019… That was the day our IVF miracle baby was supposed to make their appearance. In ten days, we should be exhausted, overwhelmed, over the moon happy parents, but, as the day nears, I am a mess. I am sad, angry, and tired for a totally different reason.
Rather than having a baby on March 5th, I will be mourning instead. My heart aches thinking of having to make it through that day, but I know I will survive, because I’ve been doing it for four years. February 16th, 2015— that was when our first baby was due, and as the years tick by, and you think of all the what ifs, you cannot help but be sad for that little life that is missing from your world, and while it does become more bearable, it really is not any easier.
In July, we will do it all over again.
It has always been a struggle, because of the many due dates that have accumulated already. And unfortunately, I remember them all, just as easily as you remember a parent’s birthday. There are ways through it though, ways to cope, ways to figure life out and get past the negative parts. A due date is a very important date, it marks that next step in life. A woman becomes a mother the minute she becomes pregnant, but the due date is what marks when I will fully become a father.
It’s a hard thing to not feel guilty about, at fault for, even though I know it’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens in one in four pregnancies. However, it’s also one of the driving forces as to why I choose to support, unconditionally, all who are experiencing what I am: infertility, miscarriage, loss.
Unfortunately, most people just do not fully grasp the aftermath of a miscarriage until they have experienced one themselves or watched a loved one trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after a loss. The pain, the sadness, the guilt.
So, we work hard to break the stigma, to help people heal and be able to openly feel their loss.
We share our own stories of loss, of success, of hardship and strength. We fight for the right to grieve even the tiniest of lives.
We are the ones that pick ourselves back up and dust ourselves off after every miscarriage, every failed cycle, every setback, embracing all aspects of the journey we are on. And why do we do this? Why do we continue month after month, year after year to go through it all? It’s the simplest of answers.
We put ourselves through all this pain and uncertainty for a chance at happiness, for the chance to be the parents we have always dreamed of being.
And while Aaron and I are both terrified of what may come, of the potential for another loss, our belief that it will all work out is stronger than the fear that it won’t.
By Brittenay Bell,