I’m 30 weeks pregnant. How did that even happen?
With my first full-term pregnancy the minutes stretched into languid hours and I ached with anticipation to be able to say ‘I’m 20 weeks’ or ‘I’m 7 months.’ I used to squeak a few extra days into it if I was asked how far along I was, wondering if I’d get caught for saying ‘I’m 21 weeks’ when I was really only 20 weeks and 3 days.
“It’ll be different in your second pregnancy. It’ll fly by.”
Yeah right. After everything I’ve been through and all the longing to have this lovely surprise? I’m going to savour every second. I’m going to be so in tune with my belly. I’m going to be 10 weeks away from due date already?! WHAT?
Now I know that my first trimester zoomed by because I was plagued with PTSD, anxiety and I basically fretted over every normal symptom because of my previous losses. It also seemed nitro-fuelled by client deadlines and running around after my 4 year old.
Then all of a sudden it was second trimester and I was resisting maternity pants and terrified of gaining 70 lbs like I did with my first full-term. And there was a Crohn’s flare. And some hospital visits. And the first few ‘modified bed rest/activity’ requests. And then more deadlines and running around after my 4-year-old.
“How far along are you?”
My brain stutters from the math, only because I want to say ‘I’m 16 weeks.’
I still want to be near the start of this journey and not near the finish line. I love this little bump of mine. I love this wiggling bundle and the hugs and tummy kisses I get from Vee as she waits for Baby Brother. I love imagining what is going on in there.
I thought that the order to rest might create some resistance to the stubborn and swift headway that time was making. Not so.
“Are you bored? Is there anything I can do?!” Friends were so sweet when they found out I was benched, but I didn’t want distractions. I didn’t actually want the time to go faster.
Between sleep, doctors’ appointments and trying to wrap up all my clients, time continued to fly. I might have been hanging out with my feet up more often but that also didn’t stop the deadlines or being a mom to my 4 year old (even though the running around subsided for the time being).
Now almost all of my clients have been wrapped up nicely and neatly. Doctors and friends are applauding my new lifestyle of ‘less’ even though sometimes it drives me up the wall to ‘not do’. Even my 4 year old seems to understand that I just can’t run around right now and comes to snuggle me while my feet are up. We talk in hushed whispers about what happened at school, and we make up stories about princesses who own candy shops and sew dresses.
When Vee is with her dad, Cap and I try and get those few looming things off our lists but it always ends with me sleeping for hours.
I write a lot more now (one of the few stress-free things I have clearance to do), lingering on words until I am sure they are the right ones to use, hoping that somehow they capture my feelings and crystallize the moment, but time keeps passing.
“What’s Baby Brother doing in there now?”
Vee asks me almost every day now, and my belly seems to respond with bubbles and pockets of movement.
“Is he coming soon Mummy?”
“Soon, honey, but we still have time.”
She hugs me tight and puts her tiny hand on my bump. My belly shifts as if it knows she’s there and I hope that I’ve found the right formula to slow the world down just a little.
Just until I finish drinking in these last weeks and the next chapter begins.
It hurts when everyone’s making announcements that they’re pregnant and you aren’t. You want to be happy for them but you’re also pissed off, frustrated, and resentful that you’re on the outside. And while social media platforms can be awesome, when it comes to infertility they’re just another five different ways to get a knife in the heart. #ouch
I know, because I’ve been there.
Month after month my optimism was chipped away. All the ongoing blood work I’d had was starting to make a junkie’s track marks look modest; I was living as clean as Gwyneth after a colonic; I was paying thousands for a blind shot to heft vials of semen in my bra or in my armpit to the clinic in the weirdest baton race ever only to get negatives, and guess what?
“I’m pregnant! We weren’t even trying!”
You have GOT to be kidding me.
At first it didn’t really bother me that everyone seemed to be pregnant while I tried, but as I invested more and more into my fertility (and it only resulted in emotional turmoil and physical exhaustion) the announcements seemed to have an especially triggering effect.
On the flipside, when I finally conceived Baby Girl, it’s like I instantly forgot everything I’d been through. I was so excited to be pregnant! And it was only then that I realized I’d unconsciously distanced myself from my friends who’d shared their good news with me. Because I was… I don’t know. Competitive? Jealous? Infuriated? Heartbroken? I’m still having trouble putting a label on it but whatever it was, it was intense. Every time I heard that someone was pregnant I wanted to scream.
When I finally got my BFP (Big Fat Positive), the insanity cleared and I sheepishly reached out again, faltering slightly at how understanding everyone was.
“I so get it honey, I went through the same thing.” There was nothing but acceptance and happiness.
So, why do we have to feel so isolated while we try? Why do we get so angry? And why do we block people out? No really. I'm asking.
When I was going through my back-to-back miscarriages and even as I recovered, I shied away from my pregnant friends and friends with newborns. I just couldn’t handle it. I wanted so badly to rejoice. I wanted to jump and hug them close and beam at their bellies or sniff their new babies. But I was engulfed by the darkest desolation. I just couldn't. I pushed away from everyone including myself, and that only started changing a couple years ago.
Again, when I finally started coming back to myself, I realized how shut off I’d been and how isolated I’d felt through circumstance buffered generously by my own conscious sequestering.
My current pregnancy has its own story. Now that I'm over my Punxsutawney Phil-esqe trepidation at going public, I find it hard not to shout from the rooftop. But I also remember way too much — I see the other side more clearly and poignantly than ever.
Here’s a few things to keep telling yourself and your friends if you’re going through the ‘Everybody But Me Blues.’
Let yourself feel your feelings —they’re natural. Yes, all of them. Even the ones that you keep telling yourself are juvenile and petty. They’re actually not petty. They just ARE. And that’s ok.
Wanting things is natural. Being pissed or feeling left out that someone has something that you want, is natural.
You know how I know?
Because I've watched 3-year-olds who are supposedly best friends try and rip each other's eyeballs out over a chip. A CHIP.
I’ve seen the world end because one kid didn’t get the same popsicle colour as the other.
Go easy on yourself.
When you feel that mixture of sadness, jealousy and frustration boiling up, just acknowledge it. Don’t chide, don’t correct, don’t censor. Just feel.
It is HARD to just feel.
I’m still not good at sitting with my feelings. Especially these ones — they’re real doozies. But they deserve a voice.
Allow yourself to mope, cry, feel angry — getting it out is going to make room for so much more in that pressure cooker brain. And more importantly, feeling is all part of processing.
When I look back on my feelings of isolation I’m so surprised I never said something like this to my friends:
"I am SO so happy for you. You so deserve this joy. I'm struggling a little bit with the whole trying to conceive thing... did you feel frustrated when your friends would get positives? I'm starting to feel left out."
Think about it. You know your friends would give you a hug, or give a sympathetic ear. Talking about it diffuses guilt and starts healthy dialogues too.
We can intellectualize all we want, but at the end of the day our emotions can pull a Jackson Pollock on our ‘paint-by-numbers’ best intentions.
If things are too much, let your friends know. Let yourself know. It’s ok not to go to that 30th baby shower. It’s ok to explore other parts of yourself and other facets. It’s ok to take a month off from trying. Let yourself grow and enjoy the moment.
And by the ‘moment’ I mean the finest wine and the biggest tray of sashimi this side of knocked up.
Telling the world you’re pregnant can be terrifying enough, but telling your ex-husband can be downright awkward.
When Cap and I found out we were pregnant, I was nervous I was going to lose the baby in the first trimester, and decided right off the bat to delay telling family and friends for as long as possible. I figured if I could get to 14 weeks and overcome my multiple losses, I’d tell my daughter, my parents, and Ex-hubs. Close friends would have to find out either by phone, if I could reach them after that point, or when I went public with the rest of the world when I felt safe doing that.
This seemed like a solid plan, given that I was preoccupied with crossing into second trimester safely. After much reassurance (read: a lot of therapy), I decided to tell Vee at 14 weeks, only to realize that Ex-Hubs had to be next in line in case our charming 4-year-old extrovert decided to tell the world before I did.
Ex-Hubs and I had found a great footing as co-parents, co-pilots of a small business, and as good friends. We never stopped being respectful, fair, and encouraging to each other, and had continued to be open and transparent about our lives after the split. We never pry, but also never hide anything, and staying that open has really helped us be better parents for Baby Girl. I wanted to tell him, but . . .
“Hey Ex-Hubs, let me know when you’re around so we can have a quick chat.”
That sounds casual enough, right? Wait. I never say "chat." Do I? Does that sound weird? I erased the text and my fingers backtracked to fumble for the phone number of a close friend only to get her voicemail.
“Hey, it’s me. Um, so I’m telling Ex-hubs that I’m pregnant and I’m freaking—oh! I didn’t tell you yet. Yeah. I’m pregnant. So there’s that. I know. It’s awesome. Um . . . I’m freaking out because what the hell do I say to him and I just realized that we’re not even divorced yet and I’m pregnant and that just feels like I should be on Jerry Springer and what if this really upsets him? I don't want to hurt anyone and we just worked so hard to get through the split and I just want everyone to be happy and, oh my god, these freaking hormones and I—" To continue recording your message press 1. To erase and re-record your message press 2.
I flung the phone dramatically onto the bed as Vee came in holding a picture of my ultrasound. “Mummy, I told my reading buddy that I was having a baby brother! And I told all the dogs, and all my friends, and Mr. B, and Jamie’s mom.” She was grinning ear to ear. “But don’t worry, I told them that it wasn’t a teller. You told me it wasn’t a teller, so I told them it wasn’t a teller, too.”
The phone was ringing, but I deftly ignored it and it quickly started buzzing text messages at me.
So happy for you! XOXOX
How far along are you?!
Ok Inokai, just breathe. This is the 21st century, life happens, and you are not scandalous talk show material. So your kid told everyone that you’re pregnant. So you just started the domino cascade of coming out. So what. You got this. Just think it through and take it one step at a time . . .
Talk About Your Concerns
“Let him know that you care about his feelings and that you’re concerned you have some news that might upset him. Be upfront.” I loved my friend’s wise approach, because it instantly took a weight off my chest and let me connect with my ex on a deeper than surface level.
Stay Realistic and Positive
“Remember that this won’t actually affect your relationship that much, as big as the news feels.” If you have kids with your ex, their relationship and schedule will stay the same, and may even get stronger during the first few months that baby is on the scene.
If you have somehow convinced yourself that you’re going to get a negative response from telling your ex, remind yourself not to make assumptions. This is great news, and they may be thrilled for you. If they don’t react supportively, then, well, it might just reinforce the reasons that you’re not together.
Put The Facts Out There
Once you make up your mind to tell them—just tell them. Pregnancy isn’t exactly a temporary condition, and the results are pretty noticeable. Keep it to five words or less, don’t overthink it. Once you say it, there’s no going back and the dialogue is open. Take a deep breath and then take the plunge.
Allow Everyone To Have Their Own Feelings
You are going through a roller coaster of emotions, so allow everyone else their range of feelings too. You might get a response of sheer joy, but you might also get concern, a bit of sadness, perhaps anger. Remember to stay empathetic and give space where it needs to be given.
When I finally told my ex, he was thrilled. We both had shaky, happy, tear-stained voices. We had reached another phase of moving ahead together, on our separate paths. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure why I had been so worried in the first place.
“I'm so happy for you guys. And I know that if it was me telling you, you’d be over the moon for me. Life is pretty incredible.”
And he's right.
Life is incredible.