Are You Planning on Having Kids?
“Are you guys planning on having kids?”, is the typical, innocent-seeming question I get from well-wishing family members or friends who are just plain curious. “What is taking us so long to start a family?” After all, I’ve been married for nearly 8 years now. Isn’t it time to get pregnant?
Well, what most people don’t know is that I was, in fact, pregnant and I suffered a miscarriage in early 2019. It was a brutal experience, that broke my heart. I grieved not just for my baby, but for my dream of this perfect little family, I was supposed to have. I thought it was going to be easy. Once we decided we would conceive, we would have a baby with no complications. Isn’t it how it goes in life? First, you get married, then find fantastic jobs. You buy a house and lastly have a baby with no problems. The formula is simple, but what I came to find through my experience, it’s no longer the norm.
The thing is guys, life almost never goes as planned. I started to try to conceive because of the pressure of other people with fertility struggles and my parents' desperate desire to become grandparents. I was told multiple times from many different sources, that getting pregnant nowadays was nearly impossible. That I should start trying right away if I wanted to have a baby within the next 2 years. I didn’t feel like I was ready to have a baby. My entire body rejected the idea, actually. But that advice got to me. Hello, social pressure!
I listened and got pregnant on the first try. There I was with a pregnancy test in my hand bawling my eyes out. I always imagined the moment I found out I was pregnant as the happiest day of my life. I would find some cute Pinterest worthy way to break the news to my husband and my family. But when the day came, my reaction was the complete opposite of what I had imagined for years. It didn’t go that way at all. The tears falling down my cheeks weren’t tears of joy. They were tears of disbelief, fear and crippling anxiety that had overcome my body. On top of that, I was ridden with guilt. That beautiful baby chose me to be their mommy and I wasn’t ready.
After a few weeks of incredible nausea, anxiety and tiredness, my feelings started to dramatically shift. I was following along a growth progress chart on a pregnancy app. I learned about what size my baby was each week. What organs and bodily functions they were developing. It started to become very real and special. Despite still not feeling ready, I suddenly started to feel a little less anxious and a little more excited. Before I knew it, I was head over heels excited to be a momma. I began nesting and planning the nursery. I’ve picked out names in my head and began visualizing what my baby would look like, what they would be like. I started to anticipate when I would finally get to hold them in my arms.
I found an amazing midwife, Barbara, who took me under her wing only 2 weeks into my pregnancy. Having care from the beginning of this rollercoaster ride of fear and non-stop nausea, to answer all of my pressing questions and give me professional support when I needed it most, was a blessing. I was one of the lucky ones. Most women don’t even see an OB-GYN until they are 8 weeks along. To me that’s bananas! Especially for the first time mommas to be, who have no clue what’s happening with their bodies. The women who want validation on what they should and shouldn’t be doing. I can only imagine the guilt I’d feel if my first doctor’s visit came a week before I miscarried. I’d blame myself for it until the end of my days. Instead, I had the warmth, advise and expertise of a woman who had delivered thousands of babies in her career. Her wisdom and reassurance meant the world to me.
For those of you ladies out there with such beliefs, you need to know it truly wasn’t your fault. I learned that the hard way. Despite excellent care and doing what I could to care for my baby, I wasn’t able to carry it to term. I miscarried around 9.5 weeks. I found out nearly right after it happened, at a routine visit with my midwife. I didn’t have a sonogram up until I miscarried, because I was very afraid of exposing my baby to unnecessary testing. After Barbara tried to find the heartbeat with her old school pinned horn and failed, she immediately sent me for a sonogram the next morning. The testing only confirmed her prediction, the baby no longer had a heartbeat.
The amount of grief that overtook my body when I found out I lost my baby, was unbearable. I felt like my life as I knew it came to an end. A piece of me had died. Those beliefs of carefree and happy future full of kids laughing and running around the house was gone. A love like I’ve never known before died. My hopes and dreams were crushed. My once ordinary life, untouched by a major tragedy, vanished.
I can no longer dream of my perfect little family. I can no longer get pregnant and not have a worry in the world. I can no longer experience the beauty of having a human being grow in my body, without me anxiously awaiting my next check-up. I will never enjoy that beautiful time in my life, because of the crippling fear that will forever stay in my heart. Will this pregnancy carry to term? Will this be my rainbow baby? Will something go wrong? The questions in my head will be endless, in fact, they already are.
But that’s just my story. Many women miscarry everyday and carry that guilt and pain with them forever. Was it their fault? If they didn’t eat potato chips during their first trimester, which was the only food they could stomach, would they have had the baby? What about exercising? What if they were in better shape before they got pregnant, have taken better supplements? The questions in their heads can be endless. The truth is, unless you are doing something that is clearly harmful to the baby, it really wasn’t your fault.
In fact, 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. Some women miscarry before they even know they were pregnant. Although the cause of every miscarriage is unknown, a lot of them happen because of problems with genes and chromosomes. That was in fact the case with me.
I had a d&c procedure, which in medical terms is an abortion. My doctor asked me if I wanted to have the baby examined to find out the cause of my miscarriage. Without thinking much about it, I decided to do it.
After a few gruesome weeks with endless possibilities running through my head, I found out that my baby had Down’s Syndrome. That is currently the most common syndrome and it typically ends up with a miscarriage in about 50% of pregnancies.
Although many family members who were also stricken with grief were relieved to hear the news, I was devastated. My body decided for me that I wasn’t supposed to have that little angel. I didn’t get to make the decision. As a speech-language pathologist, I work with children with disabilities every day. Knowing that my baby was also going to have special needs, I know how hard it would have been to raise them and provide what was best for their needs. The amount of time and resources I would have to give up in order to care for my child would be tremendous. Although it would have been very hard, no matter what, I would have loved them with all my heart. But despite my attempt to nurture that little peanut, nature won.
I hope that this post makes you think twice before you ask whether someone was planning on having children. I know you may mean well, and may not think about the consequences of that question, but believe me, it’s a complicated one. Your plain curiosity may result in hurting someone, as they relive their heartbreak or make them feel guilty for not wanting children or not being ready. You never know what they may be going through and how that question may affect them.