So… I wrote this post back in August, and now it’s January, and I’m 32 weeks, and realized I never shared it. Oops! I hope you all enjoy this post about conceiving baby #2!
Hi everyone! I can’t believe I’m writing this blog post, but yes, we are having another baby, and I’m still in shock. I didn’t blog about my pregnancy with Isla, but shared about going through IVF after she was born. This experience has been completely different, so I hope it can offer some comfort and hope to those who are in need.
This experience has been different first and foremost because this time we didn’t have to go through IVF again. We actually got pregnant on the first try. My Reproductive Endocrinologist told us not to be surprised if it happened on it’s own next time, and when we took Isla to meet the staff at the clinic, all the nurses said the same thing. Toward the end of my pregnancy my midwives asked me what our plans were for birth control after Isla was born. Each time I reminded them that she was IVF, and they always said, “Yes I know, what are your plans for birth control after the baby is born? We see natural conception happen all the time after fertility treatments.”
Of course I hoped it would happen for us, and in my gut I had a feeling it would, but at the same time I was really scared we would end up repeating the heartache we went through the first time, and tried to accept that we may never get to have another child. I never had a positive pregnancy test until after my embryo transfer with Isla. There was one IUI that I got a super faint positive, that seemed to be a chemical pregnancy, but besides that, it was always a big fat negative. I remember looking at other couples who conceived naturally and thinking, “how does it happen without fertility treatments? I don’t understand.” As I mentioned in my posts sharing about IVF, we were “unexplained infertility.” We both looked perfect on paper, but it just wasn’t happening, and I remember the doctor at the first clinic we went to going over my lab results and saying “so everything looks great, but you have 3% chance of ever conceiving on your own.”
I was so angry with her, and couldn’t understand how someone who had perfect labs had a 3% chance of conceiving on their own. We went through 3 medicated IUI’s, with one giving the slightest positive that never got darker (as I mentioned above). The third IUI didn’t work, and I knew it was time to move on. IVF was successful, resulting in our precious Isla, and we are forever grateful. Pregnancy with Isla was hard for me, but motherhood has been the best. It’s hard, and exhausting, and I’m pretty sure our house will never be clean, and I can hardly get any work done, but I love being her mom. It’s worth it all.
So how did we conceive on our own this time? That’s a good question. I have been joking that the Peloton and the covid vaccine made me super fertile, but it’s likely just that my body just knew what to do this time.
Speaking of the vaccine, I want to just touch briefly on why I would make that joke about it making me fertile. That was actually the first vaccine I had had since high school! When we started the pandemic, I felt like I aligned more with what the wellness space says about vaccines, and thought I might even go down a path of avoiding them all together for the rest of my life. I still don’t feel comfortable getting multiple shots at once, and I of course get nervous for immediate reactions, like I do with any medical intervention, but after opening myself up to listening to scientists, infectious disease researchers, and epidemiologists, I really changed my tune. I hear from many of you on social media who are frontline workers, and my heart goes out to you. I see and hear how hard you have been working through this pandemic, and the horror you have been facing, and I don’t think I have the words to fully express my appreciation for all that you do. None of us ever thought we would live through something like this, and those of you who wake up every day and face this virus head on, to try to help those who are sick are true heroes. Even though infertility and pregnancy loss are two of the most commonly used tactics for vaccine misinformation, I trusted the science, and took the vaccine. I’ve always said that I would never shame modern medicine again after doing all the things holistically and still needing a medication to heal from severe anxiety, and needing IVF to have our first baby. I believe that the combination of conventional and alternative medicine, optimizing food, and rest, and vitamins while going through medical treatments is a wonderful path for success, and I believe you need to advocate for yourself and your health in both alternative and conventional medicine. I’m also very aware of the privilege to be able to afford alternative treatments, holistic practitioners, and supplements, and that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in our society to allow for these options to be available to everyone. Even on a budget, it’s not an option for most Americans. I understand fears, and concerns about medical interventions, however, I’m grateful for my path, and I’m grateful I opened myself up to being educated more, and in a different way than I had before.
When we were trying for Isla and going through fertility treatments I did it all. Diet changes, supplement protocols, chiropractic care, acupuncture, guided visualizations, self fertility massage and castor oil packs. I was afraid to workout, because I thought it would stress my adrenals and screw up my hormones. This time I was still nursing a 19 month old day and night, with disrupted sleep, the only supplements I was taking were my prenatal and probiotics, I was doing vigorous workouts daily, and had spent my first experience as a mom going through a global pandemic, unable to see family or friends, and didn’t have any help. I can’t remember when I last went to the chiropractor, let alone had the chance to do something for myself like acupuncture. The only self care I was getting was my 30-40 minute exercise in the morning. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my stories of the hilarious Peloton rides I do. I am obsessed, and so grateful for that company (not sponsored). I hadn’t worked out consistently in years before we got the peloton app and a cheaper bike, and finally upgraded to the real deal, because I love it so much!
I actually wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to go through pregnancy again. I had a tremendous amount of prenatal anxiety and depression first trimester and into the second trimester with Isla, that took a lot of work to get through. I had really bad carpal tunnel in the third trimester, and a lot of swelling, and then ended up being induced on my due date with mild hypertension and then went onto develop postpartum preeclampsia. I wanted another baby, and I wanted Isla to have a sibling, but I didn’t know how I would ever feel the desire to be pregnant again. I even shared at 18 months postpartum that I wasn’t ready, and then all of a sudden it was like a switch had flipped.
Around 17 months postpartum I joined the pilot program of Zesty Gingers Health Transformation Accelerator, and actually had the goal of losing a few pounds, and taming my sugar dragon. When we started the self hypnosis guided visualization part of that program, I texted my accountability partner and said, “Hmm that’s weird. I kept trying to visualize myself feeling good in my body, and clothes, and just kept seeing positive pregnancy tests, and a pregnant belly. What the heck?” This happened every time I laid down to do the self hypnosis, and then right before I hit 19 months postpartum I was like, “we have to start trying for another baby.” Not to get too “woo”, but I think this baby really wanted to be here. Their energy felt loud. I kept feeling a baby around me, and although I didn’t think I was ready to start trying, it was like this little person was in my ear saying “too bad, I’m coming”. We have one frozen embryo left, so Bill and I decided we would try for 6 months, and then transfer the other embryo. We didn’t test our embryos, and Isla was the better graded of the two, so I’ve never felt super confident it would make it, but I think that’s always been because I couldn’t imagine we’d be lucky enough that the only two embryos we got would both result in healthy pregnancies. Statistically with IVF I don’t believe that happens, but again, look where we are now. Anything really can happen.
So month 19 postpartum (June 2021) we decided to give it a shot. And not to get too TMI here, but it wasn’t a very good effort. I very casually tracked ovulation just based on what my pregnancy app said was my fertile window, and also just knowing some signs my body gave me. I took a few cheapie ovulation tests because I had bought a giant box of ovulation and pregnancy tests (for the months and months I thought we’d be trying for #2). I figured we would just give it a shot (so to speak) every other day during my fertile window. We were actually out of town for a family event the actual day I ovulated, and I remember being at dinner and having really painful ovulation pains, and telling Bill, “today is definitely ovulation day, so there’s no point in trying anymore this month.” Bill said, “okay, we will try again next month.” And neither of us thought there was any way I could have gotten pregnant. Even though we timed it as best as we could while being pretty chill about it, and at least our every other day method hit the day before ovulation, after having to do IVF, we just thought, there’s no way that worked. We didn’t even have conversations like “if we are pregnant this month…” We thought for sure there was no way, and didn’t bring it up at all. Just went back to regular life. I told myself I was not going to take a test, and I would just wait for my period to show up. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and was trying to avoid the devastation I experienced month after month the first time around.
Two days before my period was due I was really wanting to take a test, and kept telling myself no. I felt like my period was coming because I was a little moody and felt faint uterine cramping, so I knew I wasn’t pregnant. I’m pretty sure Bill was expecting my period to arrive as well, because I was snippy with him that day (haha). That day I was putting Isla down for a nap, and Bill was about to do a Peloton ride. Isla fell asleep, and I laid down with her, and couldn’t stop thinking about taking a test. I remember laying there, and thinking “Why is it so wrong if I want to take a test? Why is it wrong if I get my hopes up?” I decided in that moment that what I actually wasn’t going to do this time was make myself wrong for getting excited and hopeful. I was already repeating the same pattern of thinking that it couldn’t happen for me, and thinking I was protecting myself by not getting my hopes up. So I decided to take a test. I got up from laying with Isla, and went to the bathroom and peed in a cup. Then she woke up, after a 20 minute nap. I thought, “crap, it’s a sign.” haha. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to take this test after all. I decided I had already peed in the cup, so I was taking that test. I let Isla just run around our room and entertain herself, and dipped the cheap pee stick, and waited. At this point Isla was in the bathroom, and going for the test wrapper in the trash can (thankfully it had just been emptied). I was distracted by what I thought was a line I was seeing on the strip, and before a knew it, she was running around the bedroom waving the pee stick wrapper around in her hand, yelling things in her babble that I didn’t understand, and I was in the bathroom in shock seeing two lines on a test. Umm, WHAT? I texted my sister and two of my best friends “umm I just got a positive pregnancy test.” and stood there not knowing what to do, before I finally picked Isla up, and went to go interrupt Bill during his workout.
I put Isla down, and held the pee stick in front of Bill’s face as he was on the Peloton, and he almost fell off the bike. He quickly unclipped from the bike, and held the pee stick, and was like “are you serious?! is this real?!” HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? I don’t understand, and I’m still in shock. We are both still in shock. I still have no idea how this happened. Each day the strips got darker, and I couldn’t believe we were here again. But different this time. We got an early ultrasound at 7 weeks, and we were so relieved to see a healthy baby measuring on track in there.
Pregnancy has been different this time. I have had anxiety again, but this time it was more of dealing with PTSD from postpartum preeclampsia, and I’ve had to up my tools to work through that. I’ve definitely had a similar emotional path of complete excitement seeing the positive test, then fear and panic during the start of the first trimester and never wanting to be pregnant ever again, and then calming down and thinking I could do this again, and might even want to. Haha. It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me, but this time it wasn’t as debilitating, thankfully. Sickness has been pretty similar, although I feel my worst in the afternoon and evening, but it eased up around 10 weeks like it did with Isla, and I never threw up, same as my pregnancy with Isla. I’ve had some different cravings, but some similar aversions, and also some similar cravings. It’s been so nice to not have to do shots this time, but I’m still nursing Isla A LOT, so that has been hard on me with the fatigue and nausea. Thankfully I feel good in the mornings, so I’ve been able to keep up with my Peloton workouts, I’ve just lowered the intensity, and listen to my body. Being able to workout through pregnancy this time has done wonders for my headspace, and I love feeling fit and strong. I know complications are relatively out of my hands, but it helps me feel like I have a little bit of control with trying to avoid preeclampsia again.
I’m 36 now, so I opted for the NIPT blood test at just about 12 weeks, and we found out we are having a healthy baby BOY! Talk about another shock! Based on how similar this pregnancy felt, I was 100% positive we were having another girl, and Bill kept joking that he would only have girls. It’s funny though, going back to my intuition, when we had a 9 week ultrasound, I was looking at the baby and thinking the baby wasn’t a girl, but I just told myself I was being weird. We have never wanted to do a sex reveal with cupcakes or balloons, but I do wish we would have this time, because the looks on our faces when I saw “fetal sex-MALE” in my email were priceless. It was like a repeat of the day I got the positive pregnancy test. Bill had taken Isla up for a bath because she had gotten so messy from lunch, and I checked my email, and the results were there. Bill walked downstairs with Isla, and I said “OH MY GOD. We are having a BOY.” It was a pretty hilarious interaction.
I also consulted with Maternal Fetal Medicine since I had preeclampsia last time, and am now considered “geriatric”. I’m still being cared for by midwives, but switched from our midwife center, to the midwives at our women’s hospital, because our freestanding birth center is no longer taking prenatal clients who don’t plan to birth at the birth center. I miss them so much, but after going through the induction with Isla, and preeclampsia, I felt pretty strongly that I didn’t want to add extra stress by trying to make sure I didn’t risk out of care at The Midwife Center, and decided to just be cared for by midwives where I knew I wouldn’t risk out of care.
Hopefully all continues to go well, and baby and I stay healthy. I really hope this baby comes out as easily as he went in. I’d love to avoid another 30 hour labor this time around! I’m hoping for an easier time all around, but I know if it’s not, I will get through it. “It’s temporary” has been my mantra through this pregnancy, and I’m trying to focus on holding that sweet baby, and being a family of four!
Thank you all for being here, and supporting us along the way with what we have shared. If you are struggling right now, try to keep hope. So much is possible, and even when everything feels like it’s falling apart, it just might be coming together. I know it’s hard to believe it can happen. I was there for a long time, and that trauma sticks with you. If you don’t feel like you can stay positive in this moment, that is okay, too. Sending so much love to those of you who need it right now.
Update at 32 weeks: All is still healthy and well. I am happy to report that besides back pain, fatigue, and the expected “holy crap I have a human in my abdomen and it’s really uncomfortable, and my body hurts” feelings, I’m feeling pretty good. I don’t have carpal tunnel this time, and I also don’t have any swelling in my feet! I’m still doing my peloton workouts just about daily, and feeling strong. I’ve started doing some pelvic floor work with a local physical therapist, and have been able to get back to the chiropractor to help my body in pregnancy since I have scoliosis. I’m incorporating Spinning Babies exercises into my day to try to help baby get in an ideal position for labor, and spending lots of time on my birth ball. I’m getting everything ready for baby boy’s arrival, as well as stocking up on everything I need for the postpartum recovery. I will be posting about what is in our hospital bag, as well as postpartum essentials in the coming weeks!
We went for a 4D ultrasound last week, and got to see baby boy’s sweet face. It was a such a treat. We can’t wait to meet him.