My pregnancy story is a bit different than most. While there is a bunch I want to go into, I’m going to save some of it for later. I’m so excited to share some of the best details: trimester woes, surviving a twin pregnancy, what to buy (and what to skip), and how it changes your marriage. But for now, I just want to tell you about our pregnancy plan, what we did, when I found out I was pregnant, and that first life-altering appointment.
My husband and I got married in October 2018. We took our honeymoon the very next week to Turks and Caicos, a GORGEOUS island that you should visit if you ever have the chance. For a week we did nothing but drink, go to the pool, go to the beach, snorkel (I am an awful snorkeler, but that is neither here nor there), eat, and get our groove on, if you catch my drift. It was absolute newlywed bliss. During that time, we started discussing children more frequently than we had in the past. I was 30, my husband was 31, and we knew we wanted to start a family sooner rather than later.
I consulted with my GYN when we got back home to plan this new transition. I had been on birth control for nearly 16 years and was astoundingly nervous about the transition. Ladies, I know people complain about their periods. It’s inevitable. But mine…I can’t stress this enough…were awful. I went on birth control at 14 because when Aunt Flow came to down she’d last for 11 days, bringing with her crippling migraines, nausea, and non-stop life-altering cramping. She’d then pack her bags, only to return like clockwork 11 days later. It was excruciating, and birth control pills had been my only solace. They weren’t perfect: I still had severe breakthrough bleeding whenever I got angry or stressed (imagine that, writing for my PhD and trying to NOT be stressed), and my skin would break out feverishly the second I took the placebo pills. But I was happy on them, and the thought of coming off them even for a baby terrified me. But my GYN assured me I would be fine, that I would most likely ovulate quickly since my body didn’t seem all-too-happy to be on the pill in the first place, and I could go back on them as soon as breastfeeding subsided.
My GYN put me on a prenatal and told me I could start trying as soon as I was ready. Was I ready? That’s a question for an entirely different blog post. I won’t sugar coat it: the answer was no. But my husband and I made the decision to stop taking them in December and actively take no precautions against becoming pregnant. If we did: great! If we didn’t: that was okay too.
I know some women can’t tell when they start ovulating for the first-time off birth control (which can take awhile as your body is regulating its hormone level and trying to get itself back into “reproduction” mode) but for me it was not only astoundingly obvious, it also happened in my very first month, just like my GYN suggested. I will spare you all the details, because it does vary so much woman to woman, but I promise you, you will KNOW. Your lady bits will let you know they are ready for a baby. Your breasts will let you know they are ready for a baby. You will feel like a completely different human being in a completely different shell. I wouldn’t call it bad, just noticeably different. We took care to get our groove on a bit more that week. We already (humble brag here) had an active sex life, so it honestly wasn’t that big of a departure from our norm.
So fast forward to February. It’s important to note: I have never been late with my period in my life. Not. A. Day. Not when I was on birth control, not when Aunt Flow was vengeful. It was always, always, on time. Maybe a day or even a week early due to that breakthrough bleeding, but if the placebo pills started on Sunday, Aunt Flow came to town before midnight Sunday evening. February 2019 she was due on a Monday and, like clockwork, I experienced a tiny bit of early spotting on Friday. It tapered off quickly and didn’t come back by Monday at 3 pm when I was standing next to the isle for “family planning” in my local Acme, staring off into space.
Don’t ask me, even in hindsight, why I decided to buy a pregnancy test that Monday evening while picking up flounder filets for dinner. Aunt Flow wasn’t late just yet. But I had this overwhelming, inexplicable, NEED to buy a test. The cheapest one my grocery store offered. What can I say; I’m a penny pincher at heart. Suffice it to say you know how this story ends. 3 minutes after testing, the words “pregnant” flashed across the screen, and my life forever changed.
The next morning, a little anxiety-ridden and convinced I bought an expired pregnancy test or didn’t do it right (I know I know, you aim and pee. Not that hard!), I took another test. This time, with the magic that is first-morning urine, the words flashed across the screen in about 20 seconds. I was officially pregnant. I called my doctor, who had pre-warned me they wouldn’t see me until I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant and scheduled an appointment for 4 weeks later. Then the waiting begins. The excruciating, mind numbing, “is this actually real” waiting where you don’t touch a single glass of wine despite NEEDING one, question every single weird feeling you get or pain in your side, and snap your husband’s head off every time he brings up the sac of cells in your body that you are so desperately tying to not get attached to, just in case they aren’t viable. You talk in abstract to your partner and stare at yourself in the mirror. You run your hands across your belly in the hope of seeing a lump that you know in your heart isn’t there, and meticulously check your underpants to see if your period started. You grapple with emotions and read FAR too many miscarriage/chemical pregnancy stories. To date, I think those 4 weeks were almost the worst of my entire pregnancy. Almost.
My first trimester rolled forward through March, and while I’ll save the specifics (I’ll give you a hint, it was ROUGH) I didn’t experience my first symptoms of morning sickness until the day I went to board a plane for Chicago, exactly one week before my first appointment. It was the first inkling I was actually carrying a baby. Our vacation was good, but not remotely what I had planned: we did a lot less sight seeing and I slept at least twice a day.
A week later, I laid down on a bed in an ultra sound tech’s office (by myself, my husband couldn’t get off of work that day). She gloved up and slipped in an internal probe (first thing about pregnancy I absolutely didn’t know before going in) to show me the little blob on screen. I didn’t want to have that Rachel Green moment on Friends where she can’t see the baby, so I squinted real hard to make out the white blobs from the black specs and the two tiny flickers on either side of the picture.
Tech: “Oh look there’s the sac. And the heartbeat. 170. Sounds great. Viable pregnancy”
Tears started to form in my eyes. As I mentioned, I hadn’t QUITE started to attach to being pregnant, so this was the first time it felt truly REAL.
Tech: “Ok…and…here’s baby number 2. And the heartbeat…”
Me: “…You’ve got to be f****** kidding me.”
Yup. I dropped the F bomb in the middle of my appointment to an older, could have been my mother woman, who had done nothing but try to show me the cute BABIES growing in my belly. She laughed it off with great finesse, but you could tell she was perplexed. Queue the questions I would hear for the next seven months…
“Was this natural?” Yup. I just followed the doctor’s orders. Didn’t even try that hard.
“Did you know you have twins in your family?” Well I do now…but no, it didn’t dawn on me to think of that
“Are these your first babies?” First and second. Yup. Two
“How will you ever manage?” Tell you when I figure that out.
My husband and I hit some sort of genetic miracle. Our very first try.
We were fast tracked on a road to twin babies. I guess that’s where our story starts…