Monthly Archives: July 2017

Back on the Roller Coaster

It has now been two full months, or about 9 weeks, since my (2nd) miscarriage.  I’ve honestly been pretty numb to it all… except the last few days.

It’s a very different experience, having a 1st trimester loss after (1) a previous 2nd trimester loss, and (2) the birth of a living child.  Everyone’s experience of grief is different, and I know that if I hadn’t experienced those two key events in my life, this event would have been much, much harder for me to process.  As it is, I’ve mostly just been able to write it off as bad luck.  This is my 1 in 4 pregnancies that probably had some chromosomal defect that my body rejected.  We’ll move on and try again.  That’s that.

Until the last few days.

I’ve had highly significant ovulation pain every cycle since the birth of my son, so I’ve been able to tell pretty clearly when I’m ovulating.  I knew that I had ovulated about two weeks ago.  But as the days ticked by and my period didn’t arrive, I started feeling that roller coaster of TTC emotions that I remember so well.  It’s like there’s a constant subprocess looping in the back of my brain:

Could I be pregnant?  It’s too early to tell.  I could take a test!  No, that’s a waste of money — if I still don’t have my period by Monday, then I’ll be pretty sure and I can just take the test to confirm.  Let’s google when your period returns after a miscarriage.  Mine sure seems late!  But I think I know when I ovulated, and that was less than two weeks ago.  Let’s google about getting pregnant before you get your period after a miscarriage.  It’s a thing that happens to people!  But it probably won’t happen to me, because we don’t tend to get pregnant easily.  But we did this last time.  But I really shouldn’t get my hopes up.  Chances are I’m not pregnant.  But could I be pregnant?

And repeat, with increasing intensity, for three days.  UGH.

I won’t keep you hanging any longer — I got my period yesterday.  I’m not pregnant.  I didn’t really think I was.  But boy, did I hope!  I was so mad at myself for hoping, too — or really, for caring so much.  It was so nice after my son was born to just not obsess about my cycle endlessly, and I’m annoyed that now I’m back to doing it even though I really don’t want to.  I guess it’s a good thing that I got my period, since it hopefully means my hormones are back to normal (or my body’s best approximation thereof) and now we can really start TTC again in earnest.  But it’s also a reminder of just how much time it’s taken to go through this miscarriage — this is my first period since March.  Four months of lost time, and another lost baby (albeit a very small one).

Well, I knew that getting pregnant again was likely to be a long haul, so it’s good that we started trying early.  And we’re still in the zone of inconvenient timing relative to my tenure clock, so from that perspective it’s OK if this takes another 6 months or so.  Just not much more than that, please.  I’m not sure I can handle the emotional roller coaster for another two years.

Hopefully the approaching onslaught of teaching and advising and committees and meetings will distract me from the TTC roller coaster.  Hopefully I can just turn that subprocess down to a dull roar in the back of my mind while we keep pushing on with our quest for another living child.  Hopefully it won’t eat up too many more years of our lives and hopefully there won’t be too much more disappointment and heartbreak to come.  Hopefully it’ll be a smooth journey and another uneventful pregnancy.  That’s a lot to hope for, but hopefully at least some of my hopes will come to pass.

Talking about Family Planning with Students

Last week the senior faculty member in my department hosted his annual 4th of July barbecue for our department — all the faculty, their families, and all the students who are here doing research for the summer were invited.  It was quite a crew (for a liberal arts college), with 30 or more people hanging out in his backyard, munching hot dogs and (veggie) burgers, and splashing in the pool.  It was a beautiful day with some really great people, and I love that my department is such a welcoming and family-friendly place (this is one of several regular events throughout the year at which partners and children are explicitly encouraged to attend).

I was sitting on the grass with my son on my lap.  He was contemplatively munching on a veggie burger.  We were surrounded by students.  They were commenting on how much he’s grown since the last time they saw him, how long his hair is (it’s in these amazing platinum-blond ringlets right now since we haven’t cut it yet), asking what new things he can do, etc.  Then, one student busted out with “Are you going to have more kids?”

I gave my stock response: “We’ll see!”

Another (perceptive) student said: “It sounds like maybe you say that a lot.”

I laughed and said, “You’re right!  A lot of people are curious.  Almost as much now as when my husband and I first got married and we got lots of questions about when we were going to have kids.”

Another student said, “It’s kind of a personal question, isn’t it?”

I said, “Yes, it’s personal.”

The student who asked in the first place apologized.  I told her I didn’t mind, that I was also very curious about things like that when I was her age.

It was a brief twinge of discomfort in an otherwise lovely day.  I kept turning it over in my head.  I almost wanted to tell them why it was personal — to tell them about the daughter we lost before our son was born, or the fact that I’ve been pregnant three times with only my son to show for it, but I didn’t want to spoil the festive mood.  On the other hand, I feel that we generally do our young people a disservice by being so closed-mouthed about the realities of pregnancy loss and infertility.  I teach my students lots of things, and sometimes they learn from me whether I want them to or not — I know that the students have been keenly interested in my life since I revealed that I was pregnant with S (the students were also keenly interested when I was pregnant with his big sister, although that generation has all graduated by now).  I also know that for all the young women, I am the sole example they have of a female professor in our field, which can feel like a heavy responsibility.  I want them to be encouraged by my example, not daunted.  But I also want to prepare them for challenges they are likely to face.  There were about 8 students sitting with me on the grass during this conversation — odds are that several of them will experience miscarriage sometime in their lives, and probably one of them will experience infertility.  Is it better to prepare them, or to let them find out for themselves?  I made a choice in the moment, a choice that felt right to me at the time, but I could imagine having handled it a different way.

For now, I educated them that asking questions about fertility plans is personal.  I’ll save the conversation about pregnancy loss for another time.

Update

It’s been a few weeks since I posted an update, so I figured I’d put up a brief post.  I think the two main pregnant-physicist-related news items are:

  • I’m still waiting for my period.  It’s been 6 weeks since I stopped bleeding, so I’m starting to get impatient (they say to expect your period 4-6 weeks after a miscarriage).  I’ve got a follow-up appointment with the OBGYN in August, so hopefully it’ll show up before then, but I’m still in limbo otherwise.
  • According to the pediatrician, S is officially a late talker.  He’s a 16+ months now, and we can self-refer to our state early intervention office anytime — the pediatrician recommended waiting until 18 months (even though he’s officially late already), so that’s what I’m planning to do for now.  Lots of people tell me it’s too early to really worry, that boys talk late, etc., etc… but I’ve got to say that unlike some of the other milestones, I really don’t see any signs that talking is even on the horizon.  He’s still missing things that he was supposed to be doing at 12 months — trying to mimic words that we say, babbling with a wide variety of consonants and vowels (if anything, I hear less variety now than I did at 12 months), no mama/dada, etc.  I’m not actually all that worried yet — his comprehension is great (so much so that we’ve had to start spelling certain words), he makes his needs known, including through a couple of signs, and he’s super-social.  If anything, I suspect it’s limited to a production problem rather than a comprehension problem or autism spectrum issue (I filled out the M-CHAT and he scored just fine).  But it’s one of those situations in which you’ve got to strike a tricky balance between being laid-back and letting your kid develop at his own pace while not missing out on opportunities to help out your kid if they need it.  Language seems to be one of those areas where early intervention can really help (and isn’t going to hurt), so I don’t want to wait too long, but I also suspect he’ll be just fine in the long run.

Otherwise, we’re having a nice, busy summer.  I just started parent-baby swimming classes with S at the YMCA last week, and I count it a success since he didn’t cry the whole time. 🙂 I invited a friend whose daughter is in S’s daycare group (she’s a few months younger) to join us, and I think that was a great idea — the kids clearly enjoyed seeing each other in this otherwise scary new situation.  We also took S to the beach when we visited my mom this weekend, and after some initial skepticism, he loved playing in the sand and knocking down the sand castles that we made by filling buckets with sand.  He is SUCH a happy kid these days — really goofy and giggly, still snuggly and velcroed to his mama in new situations but warming up pretty quickly, and I have to say that I am loving these early toddler months.  It is amazing how much he’s learning and doing, his sleeping schedule has settled into long nights and a chunky midday nap, and he’s still got a huge dose of baby sweetness combined with toddler curiosity, a sense of humor and emerging personality — there’s never a dull moment, and it’s so much fun (most of the time).

Well, that’s all I checked in to say… I hope I’ll have more news to post here sometime soon once the miscarriage waiting game is finally over.  Happy summer to all!