After five years, multiple IVF cycles, three devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.
I have a bit of a confession to make, though I doubt anyone who’s followed my story will be surprised by it: I’ve been suffering from some serious anxiety during this pregnancy.
Having had two 1st-trimester miscarriages and a 2nd-trimester loss at 17 weeks, I found myself not believing this pregnancy was even real at first, checking my toilet tissue every time I went to the bathroom to see if I had started to miscarry. By 10 weeks, I was a total mess.
Because I got pregnant with the help of fertility services, we had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks and then again at 8 weeks — seeing a strong, beating heart both times. But it was barely enough to calm my fears.
Between my 8th and 10th week, I slowly unraveled.
There were moments of joy, of acceptance of the fact that I continued to be pregnant, and my symptoms reassured me that Little Bean was still with me. But in that time, I “graduated” from our fertility center to my regular OB, and the change over proved stressful for me.
My regular OB is great, and I adore all of the caregivers at the practice. But because of my age and my history of loss, I’m considered “high risk” and the type of care changes because of this label.
The label itself is something I’ve struggled to come to terms with. I feel otherwise healthy and strong — and confident. But this label destroys me a bit. I can never have a typical pregnant experience with it. It means that I visit with my OB and her office more frequently than others. It means that I’m more closely monitored, which some might assume would ease my mind, but it doesn’t. Instead, it puts me in a position of overthinking and over-analyzing every little thing.
Plus, just going to the OB’s office sometimes feels like a traumatic experience. It’s where we first didn’t hear the heart. It’s where we found out that my wife would also miscarry. It’s where the ultrasound techs all treat us with extra loving care because we don’t often see what we’re all hoping to.
Extra appointments. Extra monitoring, Extra care. These are all good things, yes. But each makes me feel so worried, so anxious, so afraid that this will be the day we find out the baby isn’t with us anymore.
My stress level went through the roof because of all this. Plus, there were a few days when my nausea disappeared, and instead of welcoming it as much-needed relief, it freaked me out that something was wrong. I actually said to my wife one morning, “I don’t think I’m pregnant anymore.”
I spent that weekend trying to relax and managed — with some incredible help from my amazing wife — to not allow myself to completely lose my mind. Our next ultrasound was scheduled for that Monday, so all would reveal itself then.
And reveal it did.
I had prepared myself for the worst. Hoping, of course, for the best. But my hope was so dim. I was scared to let myself think all was OK, because I know how painful the disappointment is of learning it’s not OK. My wife stood next to me, holding my hand.
The ultrasound tech went right to our nugget — and there was our Little Bean. Doing perfectly. Measuring just as he/she should. With a heart beating stronger.
My wife cried. I still wasn’t sure any of this was real. That’s ours? I asked myself, not sure I could believe it. My heart wanted to explode with joy, but I had already built such strong walls around it. I had to take those down. But could I? How will I? Oh, I want to love you so much, Little One, but I am so scared you’ll leave me like the others.
And then, as the tech was measuring a fibroid I’ve had since forever and as I was still questioning how to begin loving this life growing inside of me, a life I had yet to truly allow myself to believe in, I heard my wife say, “Look! Is it dancing??”
The tech moved the wand to get a clearer look, and sure enough, there was our Little One doing a dance for us. And it wasn’t just some simple moving around. Here was our baby, arms waving, legs kicking, and butt swinging, as if to say, “Look moms! I’m SO GOOD. Stop that worrying.”
This precious dance — this incredible gift of a message to us — went on for a solid minute or two. My wife, myself, and the tech were all in awe. It was such a sight, so much so that the tech commented on how sweet of a thing it was that we all just saw. When Little Bean stopped the dance for us, he/she gave us a one-handed wave, a high five of sorts, to once again reassure us all was well.
And, at that moment, I knew — I finally knew — that all was well. And that it would be well.
I just needed to hear it from our baby.