trying to conceive, my story: Part 1 (an early loss)

There’s a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.
— David Platt

Right before conceiving Madelyn I kept having this nagging feeling that we’d have a baby sooner than we were planning. We wanted to wait years until I was through whatever graduate program I decided to do, plus so many women in my family struggled with getting pregnant so I just assumed that would happen to us. We still wanted to wait a while, but this one day I thought my period was supposed to start and it turned out I was actually having a freak 40-something-day cycle and lo and behold Madelyn was conceived. When I told my doctor the story he said, “Wow, you guys are really fertile.” 

Between hyperemesis, stretch marks, the awful “trying to lose the baby weight” phase, the horrible colic where she cried for 8+ hours straight, and the overall feeling of just being so “not ready,” the thought of having another baby terrified me. I swore Madelyn was it. Until suddenly I started having that nagging feeling again, like it was time. 

I saw this woman at the park with a big belly sitting on a park bench, and her two year old was sitting on her bump giving her mama kisses, and that was the moment where I realized, it was time. The thought of having another baby felt so right, it’s all I could think about. My suddenly fulfilling and wonderful life had this gaping hole in it. I was ecstatic once Josh was on board; finally the timing was right, we both wanted it, and thus began the emotional roller-coaster of trying to have a baby. 

Even though I have a chronically long history of irregular periods, that first month I was convinced I had ovulated and everything was going to work. I spent that waiting period looking up every single pregnancy symptom. I went crazy trying to overanalyze every ache and twinge. It was so easy for us to conceive Madelyn that the possibility of it not being easy again didn’t even cross my mind.

Finally, right before my period was expected to arrive I took a pregnancy test with Madelyn sitting on my feet, and Molly whining to be taken potty. I forced myself to look at the floor and not peak, convinced that if I cheated and peaked that it would be negative. When I finally felt courageous enough to look at the test I really thought it would be negative because it was probably too early but... there were two red lines. 

I threw my arms to my stomach and told Madelyn she had a baby brother or sister in my tummy, to which she was convinced she had a baby sister, a phrase she relentlessly held onto and still asks “baby sister in mama’s tummy?”

Josh had a late start and was still sleeping, so I snuck into our room and pulled out a mug I had ordered the moment Josh said he wanted another baby. The bottom of the mug read, “We’re Pregnant” with a little heart on the bottom. I poured a drink into the mug and patiently waited in the kitchen for Josh to wake up.

He was so happy he hugged me and lifted me in the air. We picked up Madelyn and gave her a “Madelyn Sandwich” where we hold her between us really tight and smother her in kisses. She giggled and we got teary eyed.

The picture above is a still from a cute video I took, showing off the test and saying “PREGNANT” which I sent to my family in a group text. I talked due dates with them and we talked about whether or not there was any special events during that time which would make it hard for my mom to come out. My due date was going to be May 6 and being the planner I am, I called my health insurance to let them know, I made an appointment with a midwife, and I downloaded my trusted “BabyBump App”. My baby was the size of a poppy seed, the gender was already determined, and it was probably implanting deeper right then.

While trying to take a nap with Madelyn she crawled onto my tummy and gave me the biggest hug, kissing my stomach and saying, “Love yew baby.” At one point our cat Wesley jumped on my belly and Madelyn yelled, "NO WES! YOU HURT BABY!" Babies have always fascinated Madelyn and I knew she would be a good big sister, but that moment made me realize how phenomenal she would be. She has such a gentle nature and I pictured her giving a tiny baby kisses, looking out for her future sibling and giving them advice and unconditional support. I imagined her being a senior in high school, sneaking her little sibling off campus during lunch like my sister had done for me. Not only were Josh and I going to have another baby, but Madelyn was going to have a sibling. 

 Another still of a video I took, this was from the moment I mentioned above when Madelyn kept cuddling my tummy during our nap and saying "Love yew baby!"

Another still of a video I took, this was from the moment I mentioned above when Madelyn kept cuddling my tummy during our nap and saying "Love yew baby!"

I wanted to cry any time I saw a pregnant woman who was holding a toddlers hand. That was going to be me, I was finally going to have two children, and the thought of having another baby (no matter how hard the journey) was going to be so worth it. I was going to feel those baby kicks again. We’d negotiate on a name. There would be that first moment of Josh with his eyes closed trying to feel the baby kick. I would have that once-in-a-lifetime moment of meeting the new baby that grew inside of me as I wonder how I could have ever lived without him or her. There would be that moment of Madelyn walking into the hospital room holding her daddy’s hand and climbing on my bed to meet her new sibling. I would see the instant love spread across her face as she gazed at the little baby

That night when Josh came home he gave Madelyn and my belly a kiss, and once Madelyn was asleep name negotiations began. “Alright, I would consider that middle name IF we used this as a first name.”

I had bought the pregnancy tests in bulk so the next day I took another, expecting the line to be darker. Only it wasn’t, the test was negative. I waited a couple hours and took another one, which was also negative. At that point I went out and bought three different brands of test and like a mad woman I took 7 more tests in the span of two days, every single one was negative. 

As the realization that I wasn’t pregnant began to settle in I was utterly devastated. I called Josh during his lunch break with deep heavy sobs and asked him to come home. He only had time to ride the bus home, give me a quick hug, and then head back to work on a patient.

I cried so much those first two days. I waited over a week to finally start telling family that I wasn’t pregnant. The thought of having to go through that waiting period, obsessing over every symptom felt like torture. How could I possibly wait ANOTHER month?

After I accepted that I wasn’t pregnant I had to wait for my period to start. Days went by, and each one felt heavier and heavier. I was stuck in limbo, waiting for my period so I could start trying again. I felt trapped in the sadness, unable to move on because no matter what I did, it was too late for this month. 

I went grocery shopping today and every time I saw a pregnant woman I started crying again. I keep feeling so stupid for being so upset, for mourning a baby that was only there for a day. How does that even count? How does that pain matter when there are women who lose their babies at 8 weeks or 12 weeks or have a stillborn?
— Excerpt from my journal

It took over two weeks before my period finally started, and each of those days drew me into a deeper and deeper sadness. I thought I would feel relief once my period started, but it was the opposite. This was the egg or the embryo that I loved so much, and now it was going to be gone forever. Any trace of that person was gone, flushed down the toilet, all alone, and it was devastating.  After my period ended I sobbed in my boss’s office as my two supervisors held me. I didn't want people to know but I was overflowing with grief and I kept telling myself I didn't even deserve to feel that pain. It was probably just a chemical pregnancy, or a faulty test. But to me, that baby was a real person. 

Now I keep wondering not only when but IF I will get pregnant again. Will they be 4 years apart, or still three years apart like we planned? Will I have a miscarriage? What if something is wrong with me and Madelyn is my only child. My only pregnancy. My only child I would ever take home from the hospital. I always assumed she was my first, it never crossed my mind that she could be my last too.
— Excerpt from my journal

There was this foreboding feeling over my head that this wasn’t going to be easy at all, and I had no idea how hard it was going to get. And to be honest, I still feel that way and wonder if this is only the beginning.