I'm tired, my back is killing me, my rib cage feels like it will burst at any second, and don't even get me started on how swollen my feet are. As I enter the final 6 weeks (!!!) of pregnancy, I can almost understand why I have heard so many pregnant women exclaim that they can't wait for it to be over. I know I am truly excited to meet my daughter and become a mommy, but despite all of the aches and pains I can't say that I am ready for it to be over yet. Not only do I still have a TON to do, I still absolutely love being pregnant! And oddly enough, I think I have infertility to thank for that.
At the beginning of this pregnancy, I had a hard time accepting it was really happening and allowing myself to celebrate. After 3 years of infertility and a miscarriage, my heart was very guarded and afraid. To be honest, it goes even deeper than that because so much of what I have experienced has changed me forever and I will always be a different person than I was before infertility, IVF, and miscarriage became a reality in my life. The good news is I like the person I am now, despite the scars, and I did finally begin to allow myself to enjoy my pregnancy, although I have stayed slightly guarded the entire time.
Some of the biggest things that helped me to accept and enjoy being pregnant were the very things I hear so many other non-fertility challenged women complain about. My first bout of gag-inducing, sitting in the bathroom all day, horrendous nausea was cause for extreme celebration! I happily texted and tweeted the world that I had almost lost my lunch. And although, I couldn't get my to-do list done to save my life, I was incredibly thrilled when the first trimester exhaustion took over my life as my sweet baby grew. With each new symptom came new reasons to celebrate. They have continually reminded me that my pregnancy is healthy and that my daughter is thriving.
My heartburn and leg cramps, while painful, have also allowed to have a little glimpse of what it would be like to be a "regular" pregnant woman. Granted, my pregnancy IS completely and totally normal. How I conceived has absolutely no effect whatsoever on how my pregnancy actually develops, but the world doesn't always know that. Many people assume I am high risk because of the fertility drugs or the FET itself, but the truth is my body and the medical community see my pregnancy as if it had begun the old-fashioned way. But even though I know that to be true, with everything I have gone through to be here and everything I know as a result, I very seldom feel "regular".
I can't imagine what it would feel like to be one of the blissfully unaware. One of those ladies that chucks her birth control and just lets nature take its course, and then have that actually work without any additional knowledge or intervention. How amazing it must be to experience pregnancy without all the worries and baggage that come along with surviving infertility, or to be able to share every teeny milestone and ultrasound picture without infertility survivor's guilt, or to have extra money to start your child's college fund instead of paying back IVF induced debt. I wonder how many of the families who experience a struggle-free road to pregnancy know how lucky they are. I also wonder if those who have never experienced loss know it too. What I wonder most though is what kind of pregnant woman I would have been if had never gone through what I did. Would I rejoice over back pain? Or would I be on Facebook complaining about my sore muscles at every opportunity?
I am in no way trying to attack or criticize anyone who has not dealt with loss or infertility, merely trying to explain how different the experience is for me because I have experienced these things. I think in many ways that what I have gone through to become a parent has been a blessing. My husband and I have developed a closeness and a connection deeper than I ever dreamed possible. I have found a wealth of love and support from friends and family and met new friends that have enriched my life beyond belief. I have learned more and more about the realities of infertility and become a part of the voice for advocacy in the infertile community. I am now proud to be outspoken and educate others on these issues. I have enjoyed every single moment of my pregnancy, even the difficult and painful ones. I also have a feeling that our experiences with infertility will keep Chad and I thankful later when we're dealing with the realities and challenges of parenthood. And even though I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have had an easier road to becoming a mom, I can't imagine my journey any other way, and for that I am grateful.