I really thought I was over the two week wait anxiety. You’d think I’d have learned by now that there’s no rushing biology.
Speaking of which… has anyone else had the embarrassing experience of realizing how hopelessly naive they were about reproductive biology before they started trying to get pregnant? I know I can’t be alone… I remember seeing this study making waves in the media around this time last year.
The last time I received any formal instruction in reproductive biology — around 10th grade or so — it was mostly designed to freak me out about how easy it would be to get pregnant, how it might only take one act of unprotected sex, and BAM! A baby. (With the implication that my education and life would be effectively OVER.) In 8th grade we all giggled at the old condom-over-the-banana act, and in 10th grade we collectively blushed while labeling the parts of the male and female reproductive systems, but at no point do I remember learning about the mechanics of ovulation and the timing of baby-making sex. You’d think someone might have mentioned it.
As a slightly neurotic, academically oriented, driven and ambitious young woman, I was, I now realize, absurdly and excessively cautious about birth control. I insisted on condoms, even though I was on the pill (which is just good practice for preventing STIs, but honestly I was mostly worried about pregnancy). As a 26-year-old, my then-boyfriend convinced me that we should try sex without a condom — he told me he’d pull out in time (oh, what famous last words!). Predictably, one time he didn’t. I freaked out, and ran to the drugstore to buy plan B the same day. Did I mention I was on birth control pills? We hadn’t even had unprotected sex. But I was taking no chances.
Intellectually, I knew bad things happened with fertility and pregnancy… I just didn’t think they’d happen to me. People had been telling me my whole life how to avoid unwanted pregnancy, so I naturally concluded that once I wanted it, pregnancy would be as easy as falling off a log.
And that brings me to the two week wait. In our early days of trying to get pregnant, when I still wasn’t really sure how ovulation and implantation worked, I whipped out my first pregnancy test at 7dpo (by the way, I had no idea when ovulation was at that point… I still thought my cycles were going to be regular 28-day cycles and guesstimated accordingly). Eventually, as my cycles got weirder and waits got longer, I did some reading about fertility rates per cycle, sighed, and settled in for the long haul. I learned to relax and think about other things while I waited to get pregnant, knowing that it was normal for it to take a few months. I thought I was over the two week wait, really I did… until now.
I ovulated on Saturday. Every day, multiple times a day, I wonder if I’m going to get pregnant this cycle. I know I probably won’t. We timed sex perfectly (day of ovulation and one day before — thanks, OPKs!), but even so there’s only about a 30-40% chance it’ll happen this cycle. And that means that more likely than not, I won’t be pregnant, and we’ll have to try again. I fully expect it. And yet, there’s a treacherous little piece of me — OK, a big piece of me — that thinks, “Yeah, but what if…”
For better or for worse, I seem to be one of the lucky(?) women who gets an early hint from implantation bleeding. Before my pregnancy with our daughter, for both cycles using the OPK I experienced very clear implantation bleeding a week after ovulation (I suspect the first was a blighted ovum). That means that I’m freaked out for this weekend, waiting to see if the telltale smear of blood will appear on my towel after my morning shower. If I see it, I’ll be even more anxious the following week while I watch my temperatures every day and wait to take a test. If I don’t, I know I’ll keep thinking “Yeah, but what if…”
Why is this suddenly so much harder after loss? Part of it is good: I have hope again, finally! Now that we can try, I want to try! All of a sudden, our baby might be only nine months away! (If we get pregnant this cycle and it sticks, it’ll be a Halloween baby, in case anyone is wondering.) It feels like the early days of trying to get pregnant, when every cycle might bring our longed-for baby. But part of it is desperation: I’ve waited so long now, surely it must be my turn! What if I’m not as healed as they told me I was? What if there’s some lingering damage from my train wreck of a pregnancy that is keeping me from getting pregnant? Do I really have to wait another year before going back to the reproductive endocrinologist? I need help, people! To sum it up, there’s a lot of anxiety underlying the getting pregnant process after our loss. (And I’m sure there’ll be even more anxiety if we ever get to the being pregnant process again… but that’s a subject for another post or six.)
Anyway, that’s where we are today. In two hours, the calendar will flip to my birthday / due date. I’ve been weepy today, and I suspect I will be tomorrow. Also in the background is my worry that stressing over the birthday / due date combination is going to reduce my chances of implantation this cycle. But I’ve got a long (9am-9pm) workday ahead of me, so at least I’ll be staying busy.
Solidarity fist bump to those of you out there who are struggling through the two week wait after loss. If you’ve got any tips, please share!