Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pregnancy and Parenting After Infertility

Fortunately, this subject comes up a lot. Women who've been ttc (trying to conceive) for a long time finally find themselves pregnant and they're shocked it's even possible. It takes a while for it to sink in and then, once it does, come the fears that something will go wrong. I think those of us who have gone through infertility are much less likely to take a healthy pregnancy for granted.

Apparently, at least from my experience, you're more likely to bleed when you're pregnant from IVF. This could be because sometimes more than one embryo begins to implant and the other(s) "miscarry" early on or just because the hormones aren't natural (because the corpus luteum or "yellow body" doesn't always produce hormones to support the pregnancy as it would in a natural cycle). So with me, I was finally pregnant, then I had horrible, scary bleeding (cramping and all) and only after that I saw the heartbeat for the first time. It made the first months very stressful. This happened to me in both my first and second IVF pregnancies (see my story). In both, it was suspected that I had a "miscarriage" though the pregnancies continued to full term, resulting in healthy babies.

So you're pregnant. And then you get nauseous. And you're supposed to be so thrilled that you're pregnant that you don't even feel the nausea. In fact, it's a pleasure. You love every minute of it. You're proud when you rush to vomit. You're over the moon when you can't sleep because you've got morning sickness so badly... except... um... it isn't really all that much fun, even when you really waited for the pregnancy. Even when you made a thousand pacts with G-d about what you would do if you were ever lucky enough to finally be on your way to becoming a mom. You still feel sick as a dog and you'd really like to feel better. Soon. Now. You get the same stretch marks from pregnancy whether it's IUI, IVF or natural. You feel tired and swollen and heavy toward the end of the pregnancy whether you've waited 5 years or 5 minutes... Is it legitimate to complain? Of course it is. Just like it's going to be legitimate when your contractions are killing you or when you're going to be tired if your baby keeps you up all
night.

It seems like (and is) such good fortune to finally have a baby after you've wanted one for so long, but I wonder if it makes the experience of being a parent a different experience? Maybe you're more likely to take a long period of maternity leave to be with your baby or you feel more protective than other parents do. Maybe while you waited to have the baby you had a lot of time to dream about the things you want for him, her or them... and then those dreams lead you to do more things with your child than you would have otherwise. Maybe you had time to save money and you have better financial resources so that you can provide additional enrichment to your child. Maybe you're more patient. Maybe there's no difference at all...

I'm starting my 35th week tomorrow. My ankles are so swollen that I was surprised I was able to put on my shoes this morning.

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