After years of waiting, frustration, and tears, you finally got that positive pregnancy test. Congratulations! You're probably feeling more excited, overwhelmed, and nervous than you ever imagined possible. As the days go by and the news starts to sink in, you might start to feel a little adrift - you aren't considered infertile anymore, but much of what you're reading about the experiences of early pregnancy don't necessarily apply to you either.
Your excitement is tinged with ever-present fear of something going wrong, and you start to suspect that you're the only woman in the world who is crossing her fingers that the morning sickness won't go away.
When I first saw those two little lines on a home pregnancy test after several years of waiting for a child, I could hardly believe my eyes. Even after several more tests had come up positive and my blood work a few days later proved conclusively that I was pregnant, I couldn't convince myself that it was really happening. As my first trimester slowly passed by, I waited anxiously for each ultrasound to make sure that our miracle baby was still doing well.
I found myself struggling to identify with the carefree, easy happiness I heard from other pregnant women. Going shopping for baby clothes or painting the nursery seemed completely out of the question. Even the idea of buying new shirts to hide my rapidly-growing baby bump felt like it might be tempting fate.
Although my fears were never realized and eventually I was able to let go of my worries and enjoy the experience, pregnancy after infertility was a surprisingly hard adjustment.
Here are a few tips to help navigate the waters of pregnancy after infertility:
It's okay to take your time
It might be, that after all this waiting, you can't wait to run out and tell all your friends and family your good news, or start stocking up on onesies and baby toys. But if you find yourself surprisingly hesitant to share your news or start preparing, that's okay. Give yourself time to let the pregnancy sink in a little.
Pregnancy isn't a cure for infertility
I had heard this said before I got pregnant, but I didn't understand it at the time. After all, wasn't pregnancy exactly the cure for infertility? Didn't all the previously infertile mothers I knew seem wonderfully healed of their past hurts? When I got pregnant myself, however, I came to understand this phrase a little better.
I was surprised to find that, contrary to what I might have expected, becoming pregnant didn't immediately resolve the hurt, frustration, and anger that I felt about my infertility experience. If you find that seeing women with cute pregnant bellies or catching a glimpse of a sweet newborn still brings on feelings of insecurity and resentment, that's okay. Be gentle on yourself, and remember that healing is a gradual process.
You'll probably still find it hard to relate to your fertile friends
While they're complaining about their morning sickness and wishing nine months could just be over already, you're probably cherishing those long, nauseated days and experiencing secret delight every time a new pregnancy symptom appears.
You might find yourself feeling that you still don't quite fit in with friends who haven't shared in your fertility struggles. That's okay, too - remember, it's only natural that after everything you've been through, your pregnancy experience is going to be a little different.
Everyone's experience is unique
Rather than being afraid to buy anything, you might be rushing to the store after that first pregnancy test to pick out your baby's first outfit. Maybe you've scoffed at your friends' pregnancy complaints for years, but now you're surprised to find that you're really struggling with the physical hardships of pregnancy.
Whatever your experience with pregnancy after infertility is, remember to give yourself an extra measure of compassion. Like any new adventure, it will take awhile to feel like you've really settled in. Until then, be gentle with yourself - and don't beat yourself up if you find yourself taking that tenth pregnancy test, just to be sure!