– Posted by Leah
Pregnancy changes your life, in so many ways. All of a sudden, it’s not just about you anymore. You are responsible for another life, 24/7. Everything that goes into your body is also reaching a tiny little cluster of cells that is rapidly developing into a new person. Sounds, motions, stress levels – all of these things impact this little being you are responsible for. And once this little person emerges, a whole new adventure begins. This type of responsibility changes you. In addition to the hormone fluctuations (did you know that a pregnant woman produces more estrogen in ONE DAY than a pre-menopausal woman produces in THREE YEARS? Think about that the next time I burst into tears for no reason.), the uterus turning into a watermelon, the breasts producing milk ducts, your body growing an entirely new organ to nourish your wee one, etc. etc. etc., there is just something so overwhelmingly huge about becoming a parent. About choosing to meet the needs of a very dependent little person. About committing to trying your best – to BEING your very best, because who doesn’t learn by example? – to nurture and guide this person so that hopefully they will be a happy, healthy, compassionate individual.
It’s a lot. And it’s definitely been a long journey for me, and BabyRox still has around 12 weeks to incubate! But it’s been an awesome journey, and I’ve been lucky to have a relatively easy pregnancy. A blog friend of mine, Sara over at Feeding the Soil, says “You can control the inputs but not the outputs.” That’s so very true. And I’m sure a part of this is that … I just lucked out. Mark and I both lucked out in that so far we haven’t run into any complications with our “plan” to have kids. But I thought I’d share with you all the inputs I *have* put in, and which I think have helped me along in my journey to parenthood.
1. Research! I am an information junkie, so I research pretty much everything before making a decision. And since this was going to be the hugest decision of my entire life, you can bet I researched pregnancy and childbirth and parenting as if I was getting a PhD in it! In fact, I think I deserve some sort of honorary degree. I’m definitely nearly qualified to be a doula, that’s for sure, at least on the academic end. I started researching pregnancy and childbirth 3 years ago. I read academic and medical journals, I went to various online forums, I read blogs, I read books by midwives and pediatricians, I watched videos of childbirth, I watched documentaries about birth in general, I talked to other parents and pregnant women. And I talked with Mark about all of my “findings” – and together we decided upon the type of care provider we wanted for our birth, the type of birth experience we wanted to have, and how to achieve our dream of becoming parents if the whole getting pregnant thing wasn’t working out.
2. Decision-making! Even with all this research, I still wasn’t sure about becoming a mom. I’ve already addressed that in this post. So I journaled. I meditated. I talked to friends. I talked to Mark. I talked to a therapist, even! And I also took this awesome online course, which walks you through a number of things to think about and ways to prepare for becoming parents, and lets you talk to others in the same boat. That’s how I personally process things, at least – I need to a.) research, b.) talk talk talk, and c.) get quiet and listen to what I really want. And eventually, I got to a point where I felt ready. I needed that time. Not everyone does. Mark didn’t. But I did, and I’m glad I took it and waited until I felt like I was really ready to make the decision to become a parent. It gave me a chance to work through my apprehensions and doubts before having to deal with the hormonal rollercoaster of actually BEING pregnant, with a definite due date in site and a baby on the way. Ok, I probably would have found a way to quiet those fears even if I had gotten pregnant unexpectedly, but I’m glad I had a chance to do so before the onslaught of estrogen.
3. Preparing! In the midst of my soul-searching, decision-making process, I was also actively preparing to ensure the easiest conception and healthiest pregnancy possible. I went off the Pill and started charting my cycles, thanks to this amazing resource: Taking Charge of Your Fertility. This allowed me to see whether or not I had a regular cycle – if there was anything I needed to be concerned about or that might make getting pregnant difficult. Since I’m a nerd and approached this whole thing like a science experiment, I also wanted to make sure the charting was accurate – that I was really ovulating when I thought I was – so I also bought an ovulation test kit and tried that out for two months. Sure enough, my charting was spot-on and I really could tell when I ovulated each month. Thanks to the charting, I was also pretty positive I was pregnant even before I could take a test to prove it. I also started taking prenatal vitamins, and I weaned myself off of coffee, and switched to organic shampoo and soap and shaving gel and the like. When we decided to start trying, I also cut out alcohol. We were already eating pretty healthy, and we eat relatively organic, and only clean with organic, chemical-free products (hellooo baking soda and vinegar!). One thing I did NOT do was exercise. I meant to. But, I didn’t. Obviously I don’t think you have to do any of these things – these are just the steps I chose to take, to be/feel the healthiest for me.
4. Baby-Makin’! No, I’m not going to talk about this here. We’re all adults. We were lucky the simplest, cheapest method worked for us. C’est tout.
5. The Two Week Wait! – or the 2WW in online-speak – this is something most people never hear about until they decide to try and get pregnant. Then it becomes this huge big deal and the longest two weeks ever….or three…or five. What is this “Two” Week Wait, you ask? It’s the time between ovulation and when your period is supposed to start. Since different women have different cycles, it’s NOT really two weeks for everyone. But, in theory, it’s around two weeks for most women. If your period comes, you’re not pregnant. What happens, though, is you start obsessing over every twinge, every possible “symptom”… and the symptoms of early pregnancy are pretty much the SAME symptoms of PMS. So it’s crazy-making time. I tried to avoid the online forums, but…I didn’t. I never posted my own list of symptoms, but I did read everyone else’s, especially the women who reported back a positive on their pregnancy test. It made me feel less crazy. I was pretty sure I was pregnant anyways, but I wanted some sort of proof positive, and you can’t take a home pregnancy test until around 3 weeks out. Your body needs time to build up the hormone, HCG, that renders the test positive. My tips for making it through the Two Week Wait – 1.) stay busy – make lunch and dinner plans, fill up your social calendar, dive into a work project, etc. 2.) confide in one or two people who aren’t gossips – you will likely want/need SOMEONE to talk to during this time, because try as you might to stay busy, your mind will inevitably wander back to the “Am I pregnant?” question. You’ll get stuck in an obsessive loop if you don’t have someone to talk to.
6. Test Day! And sharing the news! Decide how you want this to happen… solo or together? How will you feel if it’s negative? Mark and I made a plan, because I didn’t want to feel bummed the whole day if we weren’t actually pregnant. I wanted Mark to be there for the testing. I know some women like to take the test alone, and then find some creative way to tell their partner they’re expecting, but I couldn’t imagine not having Mark right there with me. I wanted us to find out at the same time – to celebrate if we got a Yes and to hug each other if it was a No. I also did NOT want to fool around with the pregnancy tests with lines. I did not want to be squinting at faint little lines, still uncertain as to whether or not I was really pregnant… I wanted a clear cut answer – yes or no – so we forked over more money for a digital test. Yay technology. So I peed on the stick (in private) and then capped it and jumped back in bed and we waited….if you think the 2 Week Wait is long, just wait for the 30 seconds it takes for the pregnancy test! That felt pretty long, too. But then the Yes popped up! And we were oh-so-happy. We took a few hours to let the news sink in – we curled up in bed for a bit, we told the kitties, we went to breakfast…and then I couldn’t wait any longer to tell my parents, so we swung by their place and shared the news. And once it was a more reasonable hour out West, we called Mark parents and told them, too. We had decided to tell family members and close friends first. We waited until we heard the heartbeat and had our first ultrasound at 11 weeks to share the news publicly. But man was it hard keeping it a secret!! We were so excited, I wanted to tell everyone. In fact, I had told quite a few more people than I intended to before we made the news super-public. Especially since I was still at my social work job, and the first 10 weeks I was feeling rather puny…I did let co-workers I work most often with know why all of a sudden I wasn’t my regular energetic self.
I also really struggled with HOW to share the news. Should I put it on Facebook? Our blog? In the age of social media, there are so many options! But I wanted to be sensitive to anyone facing difficulties in their journey to parenthood… I know it can be painful to hear others’ exciting news. In the end, we decided to share the news publicly because that’s just how we are. And we knew a lot of people would be ready to celebrate with us, and would want to know about this huge new development in our lives. So I tried to share the news in a sensitive way. For anyone in my immediate circle of loved ones, it was important to me to tell them personally, not via the internet. But with hundreds of blog-readers and Facebook friends, I knew there were likely people out there reading who would be hearing it first via the internet. Hopefully we didn’t ruin anyone’s day by sharing our happy news. If we did, I’m sorry!
I’d love to hear from some other folks about how they handled a negative result… what did you do to get through it? How can others be more sensitive when sharing their news of impending parenthood?
And I’d also love to hear from folks who found out they would be parents in other ways – whether through a fertility clinic or adoption agency. Because no matter how you find out, it’s such an amazing journey.
Next week I’ll talk about getting through the First Trimester. Woohoo!