I have had a harrowing day. A week or so’s uncertainty caught up with me. Thirteen days and four pregnancy tests later, I still had no idea why I hadn’t had my period this month.
Just over a week ago I was sitting at home working when it dawned on me that I might be pregnant. With this odd inkling I decided to check the potential due date of my imaginary future progeny. So I entered the first day of my last cycle into a due date calculating website and voila! It told me that mystery baby was due in mid-October. It also told me the date of conception and this made me hesitate a moment. Checking on my handy Period Tracker iPhone app, I realised that the day said potential baby was conceived was a day when Josh and I had accidentally had unprotected sex.
Now that might sound odd to you. How do you accidentally have unprotected sex? Well, when you’re us, and you love each other and know that you want to make another baby at some stage although not necessarily right now, you might occasionally not bother using a condom. I chart my ovulation — which I will say is absolutely NOT a good way to avoid pregnancy, but is an okay way to figure out when you’re most fertile. On that day, however, I hadn’t bothered to check where I was in my cycle and afterward when I did, I went “oops!” and thought, “I hope I don’t get pregnant. I don’t think we’re ready yet.”
So when I saw the date on my computer screen, my heart froze in my chest and I momentarily stopped breathing. I then got that feeling where you don’t know if you’re excited or freaked out, but you do know one thing: you need to know for sure and quick! So I excused myself from the online conversation I was having with one of my best friends and ran the two minutes up the street and around the corner to the pharmacy on Wellington Street. Test in hand, I ran back through the icy cold, down the street, minding that I didn’t slip and kill myself, and back into the house, shedding bag and coat and pants and tearing open the box to read the instructions as I stumbled into the bathroom. Approximately two minutes later I had my verdict: negative. Phew. Not ready yet, and just late. Who knows why my period hadn’t come? There are lots of reasons why women’s bodies get out of whack.
Long story short, between then and now, I did a few more tests. Test #2 was also negative. A few more days of waiting for my period. Yesterday I decided that at 12 days late, I ought to test it one more time. This time a very faint cross appeared on the test kit. A positive result. “Oh gosh,” I thought. I guess I should call Josh.
I tried not to get carried away. There is such a thing as a false positive. What I needed was confirmation. So after what felt like an eternity of waiting for April to wake up from her nap, we went to the clinic, also conveniently located just around the corner from my house. Negative. WTF?!?! Now I was just confused. Am I pregnant or not? I decided that 3 out of 4 negative results are indicative. I texted Josh and he told me how amazing I am for my ability to be positive about life no matter what. I thought, “We just like practicing making babies together.”
When I went to the bathroom, it looked like I was going to start my period. Okay — so I was 12 days late. Something weird going on, but that was my confirmation. In the morning, however, it turned out that it was just spotting. I recalled reading somewhere that spotting was normal in the first months of pregnancy. So I looked on the internet: I entered “late period spotting negative pregnancy test” into the search window. The results that came back were varied and interesting and made me realise that what had likely happened was an early miscarriage.
People don’t talk about this. 1/4 of all pregnancies terminate themselves, spontaneously, for some reason or another. Yet we have such a term — miscarriage — which makes women feel like they are faulty vessels, like somehow it’s their fault. The term spontaneous abortion is way more accurate but less commonly used except in the medical world, and there are even women who find this term upsetting because of the connotation of deliberate termination.
Regardless, we have a big problem. That we do not speak about early pregnancy loss makes women feel alone when it happens. Although I hadn’t planned on getting pregnant for a few more months, the idea that I might have had a little life starting to grow inside me that hadn’t made it was emotionally destructive. Intellectually, as I told Josh this morning, it was fine. I knew the stats — this was a normal thing. There’s a reason why it’s convention not to announce a pregnancy before the end of the first trimester. But emotionally, with a nice heavy dose of hormones thrown in and shaken up, it caused a meltdown, and I became a weeping mess at yoga and a scatter-brain for the rest of the day. I still didn’t quite believe what had happened. Maybe I was pregnant after all, I thought. So I went for another test at the clinic downtown. This time I believed the negative result, and with more spotting, started to hope that I would get my actual period. I still have not.
I feel about a million times better than I did this morning. But I also decided that I needed to write this post. I felt like I was going to lose my mind and my best friends were there for me. When I was completely uncertain about what the heck was happening inside my body, I had wonderful non-judgmental people telling me that no matter what happened, it would be fine: that I’m strong and that I’d get through it regardless of the outcome.
My heart goes out to all of the women who have lost their pregnancies. Although it’s a completely normal thing and has nothing to do with a woman’s fitness, ability to carry a child to term or worth as a human being, I can see why, with a crazy hormonal cocktail and a strong desire to procreate, the term miscarriage can rip a person apart from the inside. Women have enough on their plates without the misconception that miscarriage is abnormal. It’s a part of life, albeit a difficult one. And just think of all of the beautiful babies who are born because those other ones weren’t.