I was 16 weeks pregnant with my daughter before I even considered making any announcements. Sure, my mother, my siblings and a few close friends knew that I was finally pregnant, but after two devastating miscarriages and nearly three years of trying, I wasn't counting my blessings just yet.
In fact, I was just trying to survive. I was just trying to stay pregnant.
While most of my pregnant friends complained about morning sickness, growing pains, and food aversions, I spent my days begging my body to give me a sign that the pregnancy was still viable. While my friends glowed and looked positively radiant, I looked pale and tired. Sleepless nights full of worry left me looking a little less radiant than I had hoped.
The worry list
Miscarriage is soul crushing no matter when it happens. One day you're eating for two and the next day you find yourself overwhelmed with grief. It doesn't matter if you are six days or eight weeks into the pregnancy... it just hurts.
But because my first two happened at 13 and 11 weeks, time had lost all meaning for me. I couldn't count on the 13 week marker as a safe time to share my news, because I couldn't trust my body to do its job.
And so the anxiety set in.
I worried about miscarriage. I worried about preterm labor. I worried about every little thing I ate (are you sure this cheese is safe to eat?) I worried about too much walking, but I also worried about sitting around all of the time. And I worried about the pains.
Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that pregnancy is full of weird feelings and growing pains. Babies need room to stretch, grow, and move around. They make themselves at home. For most moms-to-be, these pains are no more than a minor nuisance — evidence that all is right inside the womb.
For me, every pain triggered anxious thoughts. I sat at my computer, searching for answers. When the answers were far worse than I even expected, I called my doctor for verification. The information I found online or in my pregnancy books never actually applied to me.
And so I learned to stop searching. Sometimes information is a powerful tool, but other times it leads to unnecessary worry.
Learning to cope
Five months into my pregnancy, I finally began to relax. My belly popped. My skin actually started to glow. I slept peacefully. I replaced late night worries with late night daydreams about the color of the nursery.
On occasion, the worries returned. But I had taught myself a few tricks along the way. I wrote down my worry list at night because often the act of writing down your feelings releases you from those feelings. I replaced each worry with a positive thought because you can retrain your brain to focus on the positive. And I practiced prenatal yoga to ease my growing body into relaxation.
When the signs of preterm labor emerged at seven months, I went into a panic. It was far too soon for delivery. But then a funny thing happened. As my doctor spoke of bed rest and weekly appointments, a calm washed over me. This was completely out of my control. All I could do was follow directions.
And so I did.
I spent a week in my bed and nearly three months on my couch. I showered only when my husband was there, just in case, and I watched a lot of Ellen DeGeneres. I wrote my worry lists and practiced my positive thinking. And I planned that nursery online. One day at a time, I kept my pregnancy stress in perspective.
And just like that, at exactly 39 weeks, my baby girl was finally in my arms.