There is a whole world out there, with its own language to decipher, composed of women trying to conceive, or TTC.
As you try to navigate it, all the acronyms being used can be so confusing! Some common terms seen on the TTC support scene are:
- AF- aunt flow,
- BFN- big fat negative,
- and MC- miscarriage.
I am among these women who are TTC, and one of the ways I deal with it is connecting with others in a similar situation, seeing their stories as they choose to share, celebrating pregnancies (sometimes grudgingly), and crying over others.
This has been a hard journey, and I'm still on it. Maybe someday I can do a follow up post about morning sickness, and odd cravings.
I've always wanted to have kids, two of them. I grew up with a single mom taking care my younger brother and me, and I envisioned the same life for me. That may seem sad, not having a partner to raise my children with. To me though, it was a sign of a strong woman to be the role of mother and father, and to be there for the ups and downs.
However, I have been with my honey for 11 years, married for almost 9, and now I couldn't imagine doing anything without him.
He has two boys, a 15 year old, and a 19 year old. I have seen the boys grow for over 10 years, and seen how my husband has raised them. Even when neither lived with us, he was 100% there for them. His love for them, and commitment to be present in their lives was one of the first things I loved about him.
My husband and I talked often about having kids, even when we were dating. I decided one would be fine, as he has two kids already. He wanted none. I thought we would just date for a little while.
Then he proposed, so we talked kids again. Some day, he said.
A few years after being married, I had my first confirmed miscarriage, which prompted more conversations about the right time for us to try for a baby. We decided to wait a few more years before stopping birth control.
I was told it was too late to confirm a miscarriage, so they said it probably wasn't. No appointment was offered - this was all discussion over the phone. It's haunted me though, I remember so much pain, and lots of blood.
After explaining this to her, my doctor told me that if everything is not perfect, the pregnancy will not be viable, and that miscarriages are much more common than most people know.
To have a healthy pregnancy, my doctor suggested I lose 34 pounds, from 174 to 140. She gave me a list of foods to try to avoid and suggested a few days of exercise each week. This would help get my body in a healthy place, and possibly get rid of my mild sleep apnea, and fairly consistent migraines.
I was all about this idea. If this will give me a baby, let's do it.
I learned about Herbalife, drank two shakes a day, ate healthier, and started doing boot-camp like workouts 3 days a week. The weight melted off! I started to look and feel so much better, I was sleeping through the night, and noticed a huge decreases in migraines too!
Then it happened. I got pregnant!
I took the test when my period was late, and it told me what I have waited and waited to see: big, bold PREGNANT.
This was two years ago.
I knew I was pregnant for about a week before I started spotting, and cramping. I miscarried. This is now two, maybe 3 lost babies.
I worked so hard, lost weight, got healthy, and cried. And cried.
A few months later we started trying again.
I get an ovulation tracking app Glow, log way too much info daily, lay still for at least 15 minutes after having sex, even grab some ovulation tests to pee on daily.
Month after month is a disappointment. I start questioning everything.
I wonder if Herbalife had a negative effect? So I see a nutritionist, bring all my products and go over them one by one. She scours the labels, talks to me about how many shakes I drink, and my other eating habits. She declared Herbalife shakes safe for pregnancy, and nursing later.
Phew, I love my shakes!
Then I started looking into some infertility sites, starting with Kaiser, and clicking each link Google gave me.
Until I went through this, I always thought infertility was the inability to get pregnant. For me, it takes forever, like, a year, to get pregnant, but I do get pregnant. Infertility is also the inability to remain pregnant. Ok. That's me.
There are tons of sites one can go to for information, but almost more helpful are the sites to go to for support. I mentioned before reading others' stories. They can be so heart-wrenching. For some, after multiple miscarriages these women report they are finally pregnant. I can do that, right?
9 months ago, my period was late again, and my breasts were really sore. For a month, sore. I took a test and there it is, digital read out says PREGNANT.
I wait a few days and tell my mom on her birthday, July 21st.
I know how things may turn out, but I felt different this time. My breasts never hurt for so long, nor had I been so exhausted. These are great signs! I don't tell people, just my husband, mom, and a cousin who was a few months pregnant with her second child.
My cousin tells me that her sister is pregnant, too. My other cousin told her mom on her birthday, July 18th, like I did. We each conceived within a week of each other. I thought to myself that God, if there is one, wouldn't make me lose my baby and watch my cousin be pregnant, and have a happy, healthy baby.
It's not about being competitive, which I know I can be. It’s about knowing trimester by trimester where I would have been, and watching this new person grow, knowing I would have a child the same age.
Horrible, negative thoughts, I know.
I got an ultrasound, all looked fine, I saw my little cheerio, and of course blood tests were done, too.
I got a call a few days later from a nurse, letting me know my thyroid levels were within the normal range, but higher than they wanted. I was advised to get a prescription to moderate my hypothyroidism. I even talked to a specialist who explained that the thyroid is like a thermostat for the body, and having the wrong levels could affect pregnancy in a big way. Good thing I got my prescription.
Another blood test showed that my hCG levels were not rising as much as they should. I look online and to see what this meant.
So many stories, those who had slow rising levels and still had a healthy baby, some that miscarried shortly after, and horrifically, some that miscarried in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters. I just couldn't imagine that.
I had hope though, even though the doctors were letting me know I had a good chance of miscarrying again. No, that can't happen, I think.
Then I start spotting. Then light cramping. Then more.
I couldn't believe this was happening again. How? Why?
A few days later I pass what was my baby. I froze. What was I supposed to do, flush? I couldn't.
My husband comes back to the bathroom when I don't come to the living room after a long time. I broke down. I couldn't go back in the restroom. He flushed. It was the size of my thumb.
I couldn't handle the loss.
I cried, but wouldn't allow myself to really cry. We had both boys home, but we didn't tell them. I hid how I felt. My mom, who lives in Oklahoma came to California to give me hugs and support.
I don't think I've really let myself go, and really, really cry, even still. I watch TV, look at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. I listened to audiobook after audiobook so I wouldn't, and don't have to think.
My husband and I have since gone to see an infertility specialist. I have lost vial after vial of blood to numerous tests. All is normal, including a genetics test. I am genetically normal, I never thought I would be happy to hear I was normal. I had a very thorough ultrasound to determine if I had any abnormalities, nope, again, normal. My husband, having two children is also good to go.
Diagnosis: bad luck. Really? Four miscarriages, and I'm unlucky.
When I do become pregnant again, I will need to take progesterone for 12 weeks, and I have continued to take my thyroid medicine. I will be considered a high risk pregnancy.
My cousin had her daughter a few weeks ago. She is precious. I have seen pictures. I know when I see them in person, I will cry, and tell her. Again, I don't want to take away from her joy of motherhood.
Every month I still hold my breath that my period won't come. I take my prenatal, and I log everything on my Glow app. I was inconsistent with logging and taking my prenatal, but I am getting back on track.
I was inconsistent because I was mad.
I have read that green veggies should be eaten in abundance to increase fertility, cool, I like green things.
I heard that consuming Royal Jelly, the uber distasteful honey/wax that is fed to Queen bees would help with fertility. You only take a tiny bit at a time. I am already through the jar.
I read witches would braid their hair, wear shoes with laces, and clothing with ties, and as tying each item think thoughts of holding in a baby would help negate miscarriage. I braid all the time.
All the time.
I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I've lost weight, gained some back due to emotional eating, and am losing it again.
I know when I'm ovulating, even without the tracking.
Someday, someday when the time is right, I will have my child.
In the meantime, I braid, draw, and try not to be stressed out, or think about not being pregnant.
I drew my mom a tattoo idea years ago, two teddy bears leaning against each other, one with my piercings, one with my brothers. I've redrawn this with bubbles, symbolizing the babies lost.
Someday I can draw a tiny teddy bear, without a bubble. Someday.
I am hoping that in sharing my story, I will help others, if anything to show they are not alone. If you would like to share your story, please do. I know reading all the stories I did helped me cope. Some of the support sites I read from were the Glow app forums, babyandbump.momtastic.com, and thebump.com.
Thank you for reading, and letting me get this all out.