Pregnancy After Infertility: Occupying Space Between Two Worlds
By Alina Crawford
I'm occupying space between two worlds. The first is a place that only consistently left me feeling disappointed, heartbroken, and devastated. The second is a world that always felt too far away to be real or within reach. But here I am.
I am pregnant.
I can't believe I just wrote those words. It hasn't truly hit me yet, even though I'm physically feeling the effect of this apple seed-sized human being growing inside me. After all of the waiting, the money, the pain--physical, emotional, and mental--and the tears, it appears to finally be our turn. I say "appears" because I'm cautious and anxious since it's early still.
Infertility has taught me that nothing is guaranteed, and something you've worked insanely hard for can be pulled out from under you in a second. I'm doing my best to remain positive and hopeful, meditating with one hand on my belly and one hand on my heart, sending positive and loving energy to this baby for as long as I'm able.
I don't want to let infertility steal the joy of pregnancy from me. I've gone through hell to get here, and even though I know it's ultimately out of my control, I will do anything in my Mama Bear power to keep this miracle safe. Every time I feel an awful bout of nausea or a pulling cramp, I oddly feel a bit at peace believing that those are all good signs. Finally, good signs.
But where do I belong right now? Which world is my home now? I'm still hopelessly infertile, so I don't think I'll ever give up permanent residency there. I also have friends who are still waiting for their turn, and I am determined to be a source of support for them for as long as they'll have me. I have personally had great difficulty dealing with people who undergo complete personality transplants once they're pregnant, and I made a vow long ago that I would never be like that. And that's a vow I fully intend to keep.
I am very mindful of my words and how they could affect my friends because I've been there. I was in that space for a really, really...really long time. I would never want to make anyone feel the way others have made me feel with their words, their bragging, their complaining about the pain and discomfort of pregnancy. I want my friends--and anyone in this community--to know that I am here for them. I'll always hold space for them.
At the same time, I can't deny the fact that things are going to change. And that scares me. How could I want something so badly for so long, and then be terrified once it finally works? All I've dreamed about for years has been being where I am now: stepping into the other side of infertility. Counting down the days until I'm holding the baby I'm growing.
But now that I'm here, I suddenly feel so unprepared and lost. How does one "be pregnant"? Furthermore, how does an infertile make the transition from "in waiting" to "in progress"? It's a mental and emotional riddle. I've been the one waiting for her turn to happily feel the symptoms of pregnancy, to see her belly growing and watch her body changing, to make plans for a baby that aren't hypothetical anymore. While painful, that was a comfortable place to be because I was there for so long. I set up shop there. I accepted that was where I'd be for a good while, so I made myself cozy.
Now that's all changing. I have to prepare myself for being pushed out of my clinic’s nest that I've called home for what feels like a lifetime. I'm excited about graduating from the clinic and that part of our journey, of course, but it's also filling me with anxiety. What will I do without my doctor who knows exactly how to talk to me to calm me down and encourage me? What will I do without being constantly and closely monitored? You mean I'll only be able to check on my baby once a month?! You're joking. I'll cry the day we're discharged, no doubt. Tears of joy for making it to such a milestone, but also tears of fear. I'll be walking out of those too-familiar doors and into the abyss of finishing this pregnancy as a “normal pregnant person.” What does that even look like? It feels like such a foreign concept.
I'm occupying space between two worlds. I don't quite know where I belong. I'm still having a hard time adopting "pregnant" as part of my identity. It doesn't feel real, and I'm sure it'll feel that way for months. The treatment worked, and now I need to reconcile two halves of myself: the scared and pained infertile praying for her miracle and the gratefully nauseous mama-to-be focused on helping this tiny person-to-be grow and thrive as I journey into motherhood. It's a delicate dance to which I'm still learning the steps.