If You're Pregnant After Infertility, This is For You
You've been trying to conceive for a long time. Perhaps it's only been a year, but that year has felt like an eternity. Maybe it's been since your honeymoon, and you've now been married for three years. Perhaps you've been trying for upwards of five years. Maybe it's been even longer than that, but however long it's been, it feels like forever.
It's been years of negative pregnancy tests, of holding your breath when someone else tells you that they're pregnant, of intimate sessions with Wanda (the ultrasound wand). It's been countless doctor's appointments, blood draws, and tests that you never dreamed of taking, but always pray that you pass.
You now know what your ovaries look like, how your uterus is shaped, what your hormone levels are, and the quality and quantity of your eggs. You have seen the inner workings of your fallopian tubes. You have a healthy understanding of your husband or partner's sperm and never knew that all sperm are not shaped the same. Morphology is a thing, my friends.
You have stuck yourself with more needles than you can count, or you have waited patiently as your spouse or partner did it for you. There are bruises on your belly, your behind, and your spirit from having to do this over and over.
You are bruised, and you are tired.
Then one day, you go in for blood work. You hold your breath, and you think of something else as they take yet another vile from your arm. You go out to lunch with an old girlfriend to distract yourself from the upcoming phone call, the phone call that will tell you whether or not your most recent embryo transfer worked. Whether or not you are, in fact, pregnant.
Pregnancy After Infertility
You've just parked your car to meet your friend for lunch when you get the phone call from your fertility clinic: your hCG looks excellent, and you are pregnant. Of course, you're excited, but you continue to hold your breath. You know better than to let yourself get your hopes up. You know better than to let your guard down. You know that there are still a million more tests to pass and that they're going to repeat this blood work in forty-eight hours to make sure that your levels are rising appropriately.
You know this because they have fallen before, and so, you smile, but you keep holding your breath as you call your husband or partner. Yes, this is good news, but there's still a long way to go.
And so, you both smile with cautious optimism and continue to hold your breath.
You hold your breath as you get that very first ultrasound at five weeks. You wonder if they're going to see what they want to see, a yolk sac—the beginnings of a viable pregnancy. The embryo is starting to make its home within your womb.
Your legs shake as you climb up on the examination table.
The ultrasound looks perfect - so far, so good.
You continue to hold your breath.
You ask your husband or partner to come with you to the next ultrasound and the one after that. You're afraid of walking into that room, of hearing them tell you something horrible, of having the happiness that's starting to bloom within your chest get ripped away.
The ones around you admire your strength, but inside, you're tired of being strong. You're tired of being worried. You're tired of walking through this pain and carrying it with you every step of the way. You're tired of agonizing over every test, of living in fear that your worst fears are going to come true again.
You're tired of not letting yourself hope, of not letting yourself live in the joy and the miracle of being pregnant.
I know, because I've been there.
Unless you've been through pregnancy loss or walked down the infertility road, it's impossible to understand this pain and the palpable worry you carry within your bones. Others will tell you that all mothers worry, and while that is undoubtedly true, this is different. These wounds have cut deep and have yet to heal.
Yet here you stand with your miracle. A miracle that you've prayed for, dreamed of, and fought for, open wounds and all.
So please hear me when I say that it's okay to enjoy it.
It's okay to enjoy it, and it's okay to carry the worry from the road you have walked thus far. It's okay to live somewhere in between sheer glee and sheer terror. It's okay to proceed with cautious optimism; that doesn't mean that you're somehow less of a mother. That doesn't mean that you're somehow undeserving of the joy that you're feeling right now.
It means that you've been through some serious stuff, and you're trying to find your footing, so let yourself feel what you need to, and celebrate in a way that feels comfortable for you.
Tell people about your baby when you want to, whether it's the second you get the good news from your doctor or the moment you pass twelve or twenty-four or thirty-four weeks, the choice is up to you. A pregnancy announcement on social media is not a requirement for motherhood, and just because the road up until this point has been hell doesn't mean that you don't get to shout it from the rooftops if that's what you want to do.
If you don't want to have a baby shower, you don't have to. If you wish to change your mind midway through your pregnancy, you're allowed to do that, too. A baby shower is about celebrating you, not pleasing those who adore you.
You're allowed to enjoy your pregnancy, even if you've been to hell and back and back again. Enjoying it isn't going to jinx anything, as hard as that is for your heart to accept. So let yourself relax and enjoy the little taps of your growing babe and the well-wishes and excitement from the ones you call family and friends. Let them carry your joy for you, especially when the worry starts to creep in.
Eventually, you'll find your footing and embrace what feels right to you.
Megan Minutillo is a writer, theatre producer, and educator. She and her husband started undergoing infertility treatment two years ago after a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. After one too many IUI's, and two egg retrievals, she is currently pregnant with their first child. They live on Long Island, New York. You can find more of Megan's writing on Medium, Collective World, and Thought Catalog. Connect with her on Instagram @MeganMinutillo or meganminutillo.com.