Trying to conceive the first time
Our first pregnancy happened after 3 months of trying. Three months which seemed endless at the time, but were actually blissfully short now I look back with the benefit of hindsight.
At that early stage of trying to conceive, I was waiting, full of anticipation and expectation, to see that magical second line on the pregnancy test. I gave little thought to the risks of what may happen next, I just assumed that after the lines would come the baby.
Of course, we knew that things can go wrong with a pregnancy sometimes. And while I had the worries of any first time mum-to-be, I didn’t really believe anything would go wrong for us.
Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage and was followed by other losses. Sadly, I now look back on those first three months as being my only experience of trying to conceive that weren’t marred by anxiety or fear.
Desperate times: trying to conceive the second time
Even as I was in the throes of my first miscarriage, I could feel myself becoming obsessed with getting pregnant again, as soon as I possibly could. I wanted to feel that joy again, that sense of calm and purpose, knowing that wherever I was and whatever I was doing, a baby was growing inside me.
I don’t think my mind was able to cope with the loss at this point. It was too fresh, too raw. And so, while I was dreaming of conceiving again, I wasn’t dreaming of another child with its own identity, I was dreaming of my first baby. I was in denial, believing that getting pregnant again would somehow resurrect what I had lost.
I had formed a strong and complex attachment and love for that first child in the short time I was pregnant. I’d begun to plan their life, had started to think about names. We had picked out their first outfit, a blue and white striped t-shirt and dungarees. Our dreams for that child were very real to us and I still get emotional thinking about how innocently all that planning was done.
So although I was finding it hard to come to terms with my first miscarriage, we still decided to try and get pregnant again straight away.
Our second pregnancy happened 2 cycles after our first miscarriage. Objectively, we were really lucky. Lucky that my cycle had returned to normal straight away and that it took us only two more attempts to get pregnant again.
However, this also made me feel justified in the obsessive over-analysis of my cycle, the constant monitoring of my fertility signs, the early pregnancy testing. It had worked, hadn’t it? So it must be ok. This solidified an unhealthy pattern that I battle against now – ‘relax and let it happen’ is an alien concept in my trying to conceive world view.
Uncertainty: do I want to try again?
After my second miscarriage, although there was grief for the loss of another child, the main after effect was a feeling of emotional exhaustion. The constant worrying about a pregnancy that was potentially ectopic had left me on high alert for more than 6 weeks. This, combined with the fear of what would happen if we tried to get pregnant again, left me unsure about whether I wanted to try again straight away, if at all.
But hope is more resilient than I thought, and I soon started to wonder if maybe anther try would bring the child we so desperately wanted. Also, being 39 by this point, we were aware we didn’t have the luxury of waiting too long.
So we started trying again as soon as we got the all clear from the hospital, when my hcg had been monitored down to 0.
This time it must work
Trying to conceive our next pregnancy was fraught with worry and frustration, a by-product of the two previous miscarriages, the hangover of chronic worrying from miscarriage #2 and the fact it took us significantly longer to get pregnant this time.
After such early success on both our first and second tries, I expected that the third time would also happen with little effort. So when it didn’t, it was an extremely difficult experience for me.
I had begun to cling on to the hope that miscarriages 1 and 2 were purely down to bad luck and that this time, there would be a different outcome. It was all I could think about. I just wanted to be pregnant, right now, so that I could experience a successful pregnancy. And I suppose I had to believe it would be successful, otherwise how could I go through it again? Failure was not an option for my drained and delicate psyche to consider.
In the end, it took us 6 months, during which I wondered if it was ever going to happen. Several people I knew had got pregnant, friends I’d made online had got pregnant, half the women I walked past on the street were pregnant (selective vision, obviously). To my eyes, everyone was pregnant except me.
And I did eventually become pregnant, but unfortunately went on to lose that pregnancy too.
Trying to conceive has now become a process of emotional contrasts. Hope/hopelessness, bravery/fear, defiance/resignation.
For me, at the crux of it is this conundrum; I am excited to get pregnant again, but I am equally terrified of it, because I know the pain it can cause. And when every positive pregnancy test has so far led only to pain, how do I begin to trust in the process? How do I ever get back that excitement and that faith, that this time I may get to bring my baby home?
I have no answers at the moment.
But still I move forward, carrying my beacon of hope as I go.