Pregnancy, pandemics, loss and hope

I haven’t sat down to write this yet, because it feels like I shouldn’t. Not that I shouldn’t have the feelings I do, but that I shouldn’t admit that it’s not entirely easy – that my overwhelming joy of being six weeks from meeting our child is sometimes overshadowed by the grief of what we’ve been through and the fear of what we’re living through now.

But I’ve tried to share our story with sincerity, so here I am. I’d ask that you read this with the context that we are over the moon excited and in love with our baby girl. Know that we are so full of gratitude we can barely stand it. Know that we realize we could be like anyone else for whom this pandemic has delayed treatments to help them get pregnant and we’re deeply sad for them. Know that we read our daughter books at night and laugh at how she kicks when we do silly voices. Sometimes we cry happy tears sometimes when she’s kicking, because we really can’t believe where we are. The joy is always there, even when other emotions creep in.


It’s terrifying to be pregnant in a pandemic – to receive little or conflicting information about the specific threat to your and your baby’s health and to have to navigate the decisions at hand, trying to determine what is best for your child before you’ve even met her yet.

It’s a scary time and that’s an understatement.

Being pregnant in a pandemic after loss, years of failed attempts to get pregnant and long periods of thinking it would never happen is, at times, unbearable.

Grief doesn’t disappear. I’m not suddenly over the baby I’ll never meet because we have a new one we likely will.

The combination of emotions keeps me up at night. I tear up when I see the note to our first baby scrawled across the small white board in our closet – the note we can’t bring ourselves to erase – “we’ll love you always.” I bawl in the shower because I think of the tiny baby that we now lovingly say was here briefly to make a comfortable space for our little girl.

Loss is trauma.

It shows itself in many ways; in bouts of anger; in worries over things that aren’t a big deal but are more manageable to carry than those that are; in tearing up at little reminders around the house and on dates that should’ve been milestones.

In the midst of a pandemic, with little information about its effect on infants, grief manifests in fears that something will steal this new baby away before we really get to know her.

Any book on miscarriage will tell you it haunts future pregnancies. Even if you have healthy, happy children after a miscarriage, each new pregnancy has the nagging sense that something can steal the joy unexpectedly. It’s a natural part of the process.

And in 2020, there’s a concrete threat – a pandemic that could do a lot more damage than cancelling baby showers.

I’m long past being sad about a baby shower. I’m focused on the final goal of getting her here safely.

I would kill to know the first days and weeks of my baby’s life could be normal. I’d give anything for it to be like it would’ve been if we were able to get pregnant one, two, even three years ago when we first started trying.

I wish she could meet all four of her grandparents the day she’s born. I wish visitors could come to the hospital. I wish we could see a steady stream of our closest friends walk through our doorway to say hello to this girl we’ve waited years to meet.

But that’s not our reality right now. Our reality is that there are restrictions in place and recommendations that force us to make tough decisions.

I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck.

It does. It breaks my heart.

The strangeness of this year is hard for so many of us.

And we face the challenge in different ways. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how lucky I am that this pregnancy has been easy on me, physically. Getting here was hard, but the actual pregnancy hasn’t presented any concerning symptoms or emergency appointments. I wasn’t extremely nauseous at any point and I haven’t had any spikes in blood pressure. I count each one of those things as blessings, especially when fears creep in.

I navigate the weirdness of being a social person stuck at home by preparing for her arrival – I’m nesting, washing clothes, ramping up FaceTime calls, taking more photos along the way than I probably would have otherwise, reading more chapters in baby books than I ever planned to, talking with friends who’ve just had children in the pandemic and listening to podcasts on motherhood.

I’m reminding myself daily that “quarantine” means Russ, the baby and I will have quality time as a family of three that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

We’re still six weeks out (if all goes as planned) and we have no idea what things will look like when she arrives. Businesses are beginning to open back up around us and people are getting restless about being home. We hope it’s a sign that the world will start to get back to normal and that we’ll do so with a more controlled grip on the coronavirus.

Regardless, our days will stay the same as long as that’s the medical recommendation. We’ll soak in the extra time together and know that being here safe at home, however uncomfortable it can be to miss everyone around us, will be worth it if it means we can contribute to a healthier world for our baby girl.



Update 2

I swear we haven’t forgotten to update, we’re just in a waiting period.

That said, I couldn’t let Infertility Awareness week pass without saying something.

So here’s what’s going on —

The timeline has changed since the last time I wrote. We were originally expecting Russ to have surgery in late May and thought all of this would be behind us (provided there were no major issues) by the end of June.

As it turns out, that won’t be the case, but we’re lucky because the only reason the timeline has changed is scheduling issues. There are about a million little things that can extended the waiting period and many of them are far more frustrating than a doctor’s packed schedule. ((Full disclosure: this was not my attitude when we first found out about the delay, but I’m going to go ahead and blame that on hormonal changes and take credit for the fact that I realized relatively quickly that I was overreacting.))

In the meantime, we’ve been able to nail down some of the less exciting, but very important logistical things like…

-We secured our baby loan! We’re not big on carrying debt. We’ve been actively working to knock out a student loan and car payments and we cleared any credit card debt we had over a while ago, so adding a new loan isn’t the most fun thing, BUT we’re really thankful that these kinds of loans exist, because the payment is manageable for us and because a baby is going to be worth it – no doubt.

-We chose a sperm donor. This is still a backup option and we are still hopeful that we’re just paying for something that we’ll never actually need, but it was a necessary step and now it’s behind us. I’ll probably sit down and write about that experience at some point, but I’m not sure I’m ready to do that yet. It was surreal.

-We requested the necessary time off for all of these things. It looks like mid-June we’ll have a nice week of vacation with a side of everyone going through major medical procedures then watching a billion hours of Netflix on the couch.

On top of all of that, I’ve recently had two different in-person conversations with women I know who’ve been or are going through this process and those were incredibly uplifting.

One of them is an old friend I haven’t seen in roughly a decade who is just a month or so ahead of us in the process at the same clinic. We got coffee and spent an hour or so just talking through the strangeness of the process. It was an awesome chance to be candid with someone face to face and just share the ups and downs of all of this. It is also cool to be able to be a cheerleader for someone else’s process. I feel like I’m rooting for her success as much as I’m rooting for my own and I’m really looking forward to the day we both can share great news.

The other was a friend who successfully went through the IVF process twice more than a decade ago and has healthy, beautiful, happy children. She’s one of those people who just glows with positivity and a genuine appreciation for life. As someone whose optimism has waned a bit over the past few months, it was great to be able to talk with her about how she handled it. I left our lunch feeling like Russ and I can totally handle this – That’s an incredibly valuable thing to feel. I’ve been saying it, but to really feel it is different.

OH… AND… it turns out the nurse who will walk us through the IVF orientation process is a friend of a good friend. A familiar face is going to be so helpful, particularly when she’s giving me all of the details of the injections I’m going to have to give myself.

So that’s where we are. That’s a lot of good things! Plus we’ve reached a point where we’ve had long enough to process our situation that we’re feeling pretty calm about it right now.

It’s sort of nice to be in this quiet waiting period where all we have to do is make sure I take one daily pill and we continue to have honest conversations about this whenever either of us needs to.

There’s plenty ahead of us, but right now feels pretty good!





Fertility stuff: Update 1

If this seems like it’s out of left field, you might’ve missed my last post. This is an update.

We had an appointment today to get the process started and we both left smiling.


After having a few weeks to process what is ahead and realizing that we are emotionally equipped to handle it, we’re feeling very optimistic.

The genetic odds haven’t changed, but we’ve been able to talk through just about every outcome and process it together.

Not to mention the fact that we’ve had a few weeks of knowing there is literally nothing we can do right now to make this happen on our own and that’s oddly freeing. We’ve just been having fun and enjoying each other’s company – the way it should be and usually is.

Did I mention three years ago today Russ asked me to marry him? Engagement anniversaries aren’t really something we celebrate, but given our appointment happened to be today, it feels worth noting that saying yes to everything that comes with this partnership was and still is a good choice.

Now we have a timeline. In a couple of weeks, I’ll start a process of drugs that, oddly enough, begins with birth control and is followed by a couple of weeks of hormone injections. That part sounds really terrible to a person who just a few years ago cried before getting a tetanus shot (I’m not proud of that, but in the interest of keeping it all way too real…)

Honestly, the injections just sound like an opportunity to finally grow past my way too extreme fear of needles.

Other than that, my job is far easier than Russ’s, at least leading up to the pregnancy (we’ve chosen to believe that it’s going to work out at this point). He’s the one who has to have surgery and that won’t be any sort of party, but the recovery time is short and we really do believe it’s worth it to have a final answer on whether we can have his kids or not.

The biggest bummers (barring the things that *might* go wrong during surgery/implantation/pregnancy that we’re choosing not to dwell on) as we go through this are:

  • Not knowing how I’ll react to the medicines. I’m not a medicine person. I don’t even like to take headache medicine if I can help it. I’m sure my hormonal changes will make me a party and a half to be around for the next couple of months. I’ll do my best to keep those in check…
  • Not being able to run – I’ve gotten back into a really good routine of running about 6 days a week and it’s put me in a great mental space. The doctor says I’ll have to cut that out beginning the month leading up to egg retrieval and then again in the month leading up to implantation. This is a bummer because it means I’ll lose whatever stamina I’ve built up and likely have to forego running for the whole pregnancy since you shouldn’t pick something back up that you haven’t been doing lately. This is honestly probably my biggest loss in the whole process (provided the pregnancy actually works out), so I’m sad about it. But light to moderate activity is okay, so I’ll just start swimming more often, plan on more walks with friends and ramp up my yoga class attendance. And then post-pregnancy, I’ll start running again… from scratch.
  • Cutting alcohol – we’re not heavy drinkers by any stretch of the imagination, but we enjoy the craft beer scene and breweries/taprooms are common hangout spots with friends. Both of us will have to cut this out for the month leading up to retrieval (essentially end of April to end of May). The nice thing for Russ is he can get back to enjoying some beer after his surgery. As for me, hopefully I’ll have to hold off for another 10 months after May… because that would mean everything went as planned. That’s a price I’m definitely willing to pay… in addition to the actual $ price $ we’re having to pay.

So that’s the latest. If all goes as planned, we’ll start meds later this month. By the end of May surgery and retrieval will be behind us and a month after that we’ll start cooking up a little baby, barring any major speed bumps. The timeline is kind of cool actually, because it works out so that we could potentially have a positive pregnancy test almost exactly a year after the original positive pregnancy test that turned out to not be so. It would be nice to finally put that darn ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ book Russ bought me to use.

Like I said, we’re feeling optimistic. We’re choosing to believe this is going to work out and it’s incredibly nice to be moving forward with a plan.

And we’re beyond grateful for the huge amount of support we’ve received.

To the people who’ve asked if we’re doing a GoFundMe or if they can give us money. We so appreciate your support and that you would want to help in such a way. The weight of that gesture is definitely not lost on us, but we’re also very lucky people. We are blessed to be equipped and supported in ways that we recognize many couples are not.We hope that you’ll understand that, while we so appreciate the gesture, what we want most is for you to keep being the amazing, loving, supportive people that you are.