My road to pregnancy was not an obvious one. I was never one of those women who feel they are born to be a mother, born to have babies. After being diagnosed with a DVT due to Factor V Leiden in 2004, I thought I would never want to actually become pregnant. Testing revealed that my clotting status is normal when not under the influence of estrogen – birth control pills had been the trigger for my blood clot – and I was told that if I ever wanted to become pregnant, I would have to undergo daily or twice daily blood thinning injections for the duration of the pregnancy and several months afterward. While normal pregnancies carry a small clotting risk, mine would be as high as 10% even on the medication, and FVL also significantly raises the risks of, among others, the more serious maternal conditions – early onset pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, late-term miscarriage, and yes, stillbirth.
My enthusiasm and willingness to become pregnant took years. The road had twists and turns. I went to individual therapy for my general anxiety, where we talked a lot about my specific medical anxieties. This thought haunts me that I will always end up on the wrong side of a medical odd, no matter how small. The number of unlikely things that have happened to me make it hard to believe otherwise (and in fact I wonder if there wasn’t some small part of my therapist that thought surely I was playing a terrible prank when I wrote to tell him we’d lost our baby at 23 weeks, something that was so unlikely to happen it doesn’t even seem real). We went to marriage counseling, where after several sessions it became clear this was The Issue. He tried to get excited about surrogacy. I tried to get excited about pregnancy. We went to, literally, dozens of doctors, to discuss and assess our risks, our odds of making it.
And one day, it happened. I wanted to make a family with this man more than I was afraid of the risks. I felt like the risks were real, but that most likely I would be okay. I felt like my husband really understood how scary this was for me, what it meant for me to say yes, let’s try to make a baby. And so we did.
I wanted to have a baby, create our own little family. I never wanted to be pregnant. Being pregnant scared me. Being pregnant annoyed me. I can’t tell you how many mornings I woke up, knowing I’d have to endure another painful shot, and just laid there crying, feeling trapped. I couldn’t go anywhere for two months for fear of puking. I was uncomfortable traveling far from home; we even gave up our planned trip to Costa Rica to avoid being far from medical care. I would think wistfully about how this would be our last anniversary as just the two of us. I hated having to ask other people to lift things for me, assemble furniture for me. I said, on more than one occasion, that it would be okay with me if the baby wanted to come a week or two early – fewer injections. I kept a calendar counting down the days and injections until due date. Some days I downright resented the pregnancy.
I wish I could take it all back. I would give anything to still be pregnant right now. Heartburn, queasiness, shortness of breath, discomfort – sign me up. I’m so sorry I ever thought, god, how long till this is over. If only we’d known.