When I first saw those two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test, I couldn’t have been more excited after a few months of trying with no success. I immediately ran to our spare room (and future nursery) to show my husband the test.
“Wow!” he said, grabbing me and squeezing me hard. “I’m excited and nervous!”
I was elated. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. I immediately called my doctor’s office (well, after they opened) and calculated my due date. The baby would be here a few days before Christmas, which felt like the most magical thing to me — especially because we had recently found a “baby’s first Christmas” sweater in storage that had belonged to my husband as a child. It felt like a sign.
But two weeks later, just days away from our 3rd anniversary, I started spotting. After a traumatic visit to my OBGYN, where an ultrasound revealed an empty uterus and my doctor ordered bloodwork to confirm if my HCG levels were falling as she suspected, I miscarried on the drive to our anniversary getaway spot.
Three months later, when I repeated the early morning pregnancy test and it came up positive, I was filled with more excitement — but also a growing sense of dread. I rushed to show my husband and his face broke into a huge smile. “Here we go again!” he said.
Although he didn’t mean his words to hurt me because he was nothing if not excited, I couldn’t help but think about how my last pregnancy ended. While he meant to convey his excitement over being pregnant again, all I could hear in my head was, I hope this pregnancy doesn’t end the same way.
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We made it to six weeks! That may not seem like such a big number considering we still have 34 weeks to go before @p3rski & I will be holding our little #BabyGonski in our arms, but it feels like a monumental number because we are now officially further along than we were last time, before my miscarriage. So a big WOO HOO to us! . Getting here hasn’t been easy, though. This past week I’ve been a ball of anxiety and fear, knowing that Friday I would have been the same amount pregnant as I was last time when I started spotting. Going into this week was tough, and having tons of work to do didn’t distract me as much as I’d hoped. Not to mention, my cat getting sick has taken its toll, too… But I made it. Through all the fucking anxiety and stress and fear and uncertainty and worries, I made it to today. And I’m okay. . Sure, this doesn’t mean that my anxiety has completely dissipated or that the miscarriage fears are gone forever. I’ve clearly taken my share of pregnancy tests to help alleviate some of those miscarriage fears in the moment, and that helps, but then the fears come back. That’s normal, though. When I first miscarried back in April, my therapist pointed out that my next pregnancy will be more difficult because there’s a loss of innocence there. And she was right. There’s a lot more fear and anxiety this time around. But she also told me that she wanted me to enjoy my pregnancy, so we’re working on that. . And that’s why I’m sharing all of this in the first place. Pregnancy anxiety is real, even if you haven’t been through a miscarriage. This time in a person’s or couple’s life can be scary. But for me, things get a lot less scary when I can talk about them, when I can share and commiserate and cry and stress and laugh and post silly photos of all the goddamn sticks I’ve peed on in the last couple of weeks. So, hey, anxiety might suck — and it might suck more than usual right now — but I’m getting through it, one silly photo and one tiny celebration at a time.
Those words rang in my head for the next week while I waited to see if my period would come. When it didn’t, I finally called my doctor and she sent me for bloodwork immediately — something not done last time — to see if this pregnancy (and the subsequent HCG levels) were progressing normally. After a few days of anxiously waiting for news, I found out that everything seemed to be going well. My HCG levels had tripled in 48 hours (they only had to double to confirm a pregnancy) so my doctor scheduled me for my first appointment, which would be…one month later.
As any first-time pregnant person knows, waiting for that first doctor’s appointment can be pure torture. Since my pregnancy was planned, I was hyper-aware of everything from the timing to the early symptoms. As the days ticked on, I tried to notice if anything was different. I tried to figure out if this was a viable pregnancy. Most of all, I tried to calm my anxiety, which seemed to be reminding me every minute of my blood-soaked panties from last time.
I knew that one in five known pregnancies ends in miscarriage — so what had happened to me the first time wasn’t exactly unusual. I tried to take comfort in the fact that many women experience miscarriage and go on to have perfectly normal, healthy babies (Beyoncé immediately came to mind, so I spent most of my early pregnancy listening to her Homecoming album). And I tried to remind myself, with the help of my therapist, that recurring miscarriages are much rarer — but the fear was still there, and it was all-consuming.
Finally, I decided to do something about it.
When I was pregnant the first time, I had only let a couple of close friends and my parents know that we were expecting before the miscarriage at six weeks. This time, at five weeks, I decided to tell the world.
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I made it to 8 weeks! 🤰🏻 . So far, top pregnancy symptoms include extreme fatigue and the inability to function unless I get 11 hours of sleep. I’m not having terrible morning sickness, thankfully, but there is some nausea and queasiness that have been affecting my ability to eat — which, I gotta be honest, REALLY FUCKING SUCKS. I have to eat every 2 hours or so in order to not feel worse… but I only seem to be able to stomach carbs and cheese right now. I honestly miss my veggies and spicy food, but baby has proven a few times already that they want what they want and me trying to force something else isn’t going to work well. . And no, there’s no baby bump yet. Since this is my first pregnancy, I don’t expect to have one until 12-16 weeks… And I’m super excited for it, one the one hand, because I can’t wait till the rest of the world can see what I already know to be true. But on the other hand, I’m a *bit* nervous for it because of my history with weight loss and body image issues. But, well, my body is changing — and fast! — and I’m working on accepting that. I’m also working on my inpatience and giving myself more breaks instead of being go-go-go all the time. It’s a work-in-progress but, as the tattoo above my “8 weeks” sticker says: “You just have to get through today.”
Back when I miscarried, it was really painful and extremely difficult. It was especially difficult because, although I had always been someone who processed her thoughts and feelings out loud, almost nobody knew my once-happy news. Knowing that I couldn’t get through my pain alone, I opted to tell people about the miscarriage by sharing the news on social media — yes, even though I hadn’t opened up about the pregnancy in the first place.
Although I know plenty of people who would be horrified at the thought of being so private in such a public space, I’ve always found the support of others to be extremely healing. Almost four years before my miscarriage, I had shared online my struggles with a substance use disorder and my need to enter rehab for alcohol abuse. While in rehab, I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and I continued to share my mental health journey online.
So when I thought about how best to help my new pregnancy anxiety, the answer seemed clear: Announce my pregnancy early. Like, really early.
I was only five weeks pregnant when I posted a photo of a onesie and a positive pregnancy test on my Instagram account.
I was terrified as I did it and terrified of the comments I’d receive, but I knew that I couldn’t hold out for the traditional 12 weeks of waiting. Waiting that long to share my happy news just felt wrong. I wanted to be able to talk to my loved ones (which included plenty of friends who don’t live in my town and for whom online communication is our primary form of connecting) about the joys and difficulties of pregnancy. But most of all, it felt wrong to keep this news to myself — especially because I was so terrified of another miscarriage.
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As many of us have been doing for the last week (I hope!), I haven’t been leaving the house much except to get some groceries and for doctor’s appointments. And it’s been… tough. . Reaching this point of my pregnancy is an incredibly joyful moment because, nowadays, Baby Gonski can show up at any moment. Sure, most first-time moms give birth a week late so I’m not actually expecting much until April 10th… but it’s hard not to be in countdown mode right now. Every weird sensation or movement has me on edge, immediately jumping to Dr. Google to search “early labor signs.” We can’t wait to meet the baby at this point but, of course, we know we have to practice patience because he may not be ready to meet us just yet. . But this wait has become incredibly difficult not just because I’m impatient but because I am also terrified by what’s happening with the coronavirus pandemic. There is an incredible amount of uncertainty that has me, as a soon-to-be new mom, freaking out. The information changes constantly. My hospital has instituted a VERY strict visitor policy (basically, only @p3rski is allowed). And my OB’s office is sending daily updates and safety precautions. I never could have imagined that I’d give birth during such an insane time — and I’m constantly anxious that Adam (who can’t work from home) will get sick in the next few weeks and be unable to be there at the birth of his child. Seriously, this thought has me near panic every minute of every day. . So, yeah, what I thought would be a fun and calm-before-the-storm time pre-baby has turned into a mess. We had to cancel all our social plans and date nights — you know, the things they tell you to do “before baby comes.” Instead, we’re doing everything we can to stay calm and social isolate, not just for ourselves but also our baby who will be born with basically no immune system. It’s scary, y’all. . Other than that, pregnancy is wild! I’ve definitely reached the “everything hurts and I’m uncomfortable all the time” stage and finally understand why some moms are like COME OUT ALREADY! But, at the end of the day, #BabyGonski is healthy and will be here soon. That’s all that matters.
When I looked into the 12-week wait, it seemed that the main reason women were told to keep the news to themselves is precisely in case a miscarriage happened. But when I shared my news before, I only received an outpouring of love and support. I knew, deep down, if the worst happened again, I’d need even more love and support around me.
And so, I shared my pregnancy news at five weeks.
I hoped that things would end well this time. But I also dreaded if they didn’t. Being open about my hopes and fears online, though, gave me a very special sense of unity that I hadn’t expected. Plenty of other women came to tell me their own pregnancy loss and pregnancy anxiety stories. Many shared words of encouragement but, most of all, words of solidarity. It’s precisely that solidarity that can make social media an actually beautiful place to spend (some of) your time.
Although I still sought plenty of emotional support from my husband and therapist, it was also nice to know that I wasn’t alone in my fears of another miscarriage.
After sharing my news, I spent the next few weeks excitedly and fearfully counting down to my first ultrasound. Then, to my second. Then, until the first trimester ended. And each time I shared something that frightened me or anxieties that kept me up at night or worries I had that were plaguing my mind, another woman reached out and told me that she’s been through it too. And even though it was all online, it still felt like an incredibly warm hug.
Now that I am just weeks away from my due date, I’m sharing more about my excitement than my fears — but some of that anxiety is still there. And you know what? Knowing I’m not alone is still the best remedy to calm me down.
Here are the only pregnancy books you actually need to read.