After two previous high risk pregnancies, a traumatic birth with my second son which culminated in me needing a blood transfusion, and a new pregnancy which has been riddled with pain, bleeding and much stress, forgive me for needing to get something off my chest…
Coming from a family of five children, and all of my siblings have children by age 21, I was under the assumption that having kids would be no big deal for me. So when I was diagnosed with PCOS and infertility at age 23, I was nearly destroyed. I was told that getting pregnant naturally would almost certainly never happen, and if I wanted to have any chance of getting pregnant at all, I should do it as soon as possible. My ex-husband and I took it to heart, and we began “trying” within the week. It didn’t last long, though. For many reasons that I won’t go into here, we were talked into waiting until our two year marriage was “more established” before going for it.
By age 25, though, I was starting to panic. I ended up on fertility medications to try and get my cycles regular, and I commiserated with my 40 year old co-worker who had been trying for years to get pregnant with no luck. We leaned on each other for support, and we both helped each other to not give up.
At age 26, I was told my best chance to help battle my PCOS and get things going was to lose a significant amount of weight. I had surgery and in a year, I lost well over 100 lbs. But unfortunately in that time, my ex-husband and I had come to the decision that we were no longer right for each other, and we decided to divorce. At that point, I lost all hope of ever having kids.
About five months later, I met Mark, and we began seeing each other. On our first date, we discussed having kids, and we both admitted to the fantasy of having three kids – two boys and a girl. But I felt the need to tell him that I struggled with fertility and likely would not be able to have kids. He admitted that there had been a time in his previous marriage where they, too, had tried for a baby with no result. He thought he might be infertile, as well.
You can imagine our surprise (and elation!) when we found out after 3.5 months together that we were pregnant. There were so many unexpected emotions in that first pregnancy. I was excited, obviously, but I was also scared out of my mind. We didn’t really know each other that well, and parenting is a big responsibility. I was struck with some pretty severe pre-natal depression. I self-harmed a lot. I was also struck down with many different medical issues and I spent a lot of time admitted to the hospital due to upsetting test results, hemorrhages and even going into labor at 32 weeks.
But it was all worth it when Pip came out perfect and healthy.
A year and a half later, I was pregnant again, and the experience was once again traumatic. I once again struggled with depression, but it wasn’t as severe. I did, however, experience hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that saw me vomiting continuously throughout my entire pregnancy. I actually lost a lot of weight during the pregnancy because of it. I was struck with a terrible bacterial infection which was resistant to antibiotics and necessitated me being on some medicine that was VERY unsafe in pregnancy. I was once again high risk, and in the many many scans we had during the pregnancy, we were given a LOT of information that turned out not to be true. We were told our baby had a hole in his heart that may need to be operated on as soon as he was born. We were told he had a high risk of having Down Syndrome. We were told he was not thriving and would be very small and sickly.
Once again, I went into labor early and had to be put on blood pressure medicine to stop the constant contractions I was having. I also was put on bed rest for the last three months of the pregnancy. When I was about 6 weeks from my due date, I began itching terribly all over and having pains. It turned out I had Obstetric Cholestasis, which caused me to itch unbearably. I had bloody scratches all over (especially my hands) and was driven insane by it. My doctor made the decision to do an emergency induction and have the baby early.
The birth itself was traumatic. It was incredibly painful, the epidural only half worked, and I was on oxygen. I remember VERY little of it, though the bits I do remember involve a lot of hemorrhaging, delivering my bag of waters in tact and an extremely quick birth that my doctor didn’t even make it to. Afterward, I had to have a blood transfusion because I was so severely anemic.
All in all, Cheerio was a perfectly healthy (if somewhat small) baby, and we were overjoyed. But there’s no doubt it was a rough pregnancy. Mark and I both actually agreed that we shouldn’t attempt any more children. It just wasn’t a good idea. But time takes its toll on a memory, and though it had only been a year since Cheerio’s birth, I was getting broody again. Mark and I planned to wait until the end of this year before considering the possibility of getting pregnant, but life sneaks up on you sometimes, and here we are once again expecting.
This time around, though I am trying hard to think positively and take things in stride. It’s been difficult. I’ve been once again struck down with some severe morning sickness, and I’ve had some bleeds and a hell of a lot more pain than I’ve ever had before. I am worried and sick and tired and still having to look after two rambunctious toddlers, one of whom I am STILL breastfeeding.
But every time I mention that I’m struggling, I am inundated with comments from people telling me to shut up because I’m being offensive to those who are trying to conceive. It turns out that I am not allowed to exude anything but joy and happiness because it’s not fair to those struggling with infertility. I keep being told, “If I could get pregnant, I would revel in the morning sickness and endure every pain with a smile on my face.”
Further, I’ve been accused by more than one woman of “rubbing it in [their] face” that I’m pregnant. I am told that I am selfish and bratty for daring to complain about the very real pain I feel. What gets me even more is that many of the women who have made these complaints against me already have at least one child themselves. Some of them have more.
And believe me, I get it. I get the pain of wanting a child and not being able to have one. I waited years. I felt hurt and betrayed by my own body. That I am so apparently fertile now shocks me as much as anyone. But I still remember what it was like to pine for a baby. But just because I am lucky enough to have children of my own does not in any way mean that I am not allowed to complain about the process of getting them.
If I am selfish for complaining about being pregnant, then so be it. No one more than I would like it if there was nothing for me to complain about. I expected pregnancy to be a glowing, happy time where I did nothing but admire my growing belly, enthuse in the every twitch of my fetus and delight in every stage of development. But for some of us, these nine months are a never-ending endurance test that only becomes worthwhile once the baby comes.
What say you? Is complaining about pregnancy offensive to those who struggle to get pregnant, or is is a normal part of the process and warranted in certain situations?
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