People get pregnant every day. Even while doing everything in their power to prevent it. Me, I spent a year peeing on sticks, counting days, obsessively documenting the smallest symptom. And it still took three tries before anything stuck.
At times, I deeply resented those fertile people. Why, I wondered, did I have to lie perfectly still and take my temperature while the alarm blared at me? Why did I have to spend time and money on ovulation prediction tests, schedule sex (how sexy!), and completely overhaul my lifestyle just to accomplish this one thing -- something my body is made to do? Other people have a good time on a Saturday night and poof!
And why, for all my efforts, did my first two pregnancies end before they'd really begun? That question will drive you crazy if you let it.
It's been an informative year, to say the least. After that first miscarriage, my periods leveled out; in fact, the only cycle I had after that which didn't run like clockwork was in November, when I had my second miscarriage.
Things I've learned this year:
1. It's possible to know you're pregnant before you get a positive pregnancy test. In the case of my first pregnancy, I started having symptoms three days after ovulation. And of all my pregnancies, that one was the worst in terms of symptoms. (It was also the shortest, ending before my period was even due.)
2. It's also possible to be pregnant and not know it. Something I doubted after pregnancy 1 and 2 (which lacked the violent symptoms but was hardly a stealth pregnancy). The only reason I took a pregnancy test as early as I did the third time around was because the date of my expected period came and went, and like I said, I'd been running like clockwork up until that point. Plus, I had all the usual period symptoms: cramps, bloating, zits, moodiness...everything but the blood.
3. The OPK tests say the test line must be as dark (or darker than) the control line to be considered positive. Not true. According to them, I ovulated once last year -- during a month in which I did not get pregnant.
4. A line on a pregnancy test, no matter how faint, can be a positive result. Home tests look for a much higher level of hormones than your doctor. If you've got enough in your pee to make a line, you've likely got enough to kill the wabbit (or set off the preggers alarms at the doctor).
4a. Just because the pee stick says you're pregnant and the doctor confirms you're pregnant doesn't mean you'll stay pregnant. Levels can go down as well as up.
4b. This type of miscarriage happens more frequently than most people know -- if you're not obsessing over cycles and charts and days on a calendar, you'd most likely never even know you were pregnant in the first place.
4c. Just because it's a common occurrence doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.
5. Compared to my normal periods, those miscarriages were nothing. Physically, anyway. The flow was lighter and shorter than my standard period, and the cramps were much more manageable. Which is kind of horrifying, when you think about it.
6. It's possible to get pregnant immediately after a miscarriage. My doctor advised me to take the month off from trying...a week too late. The week of my miscarriage, I was out of town. The next available appointment was a week from the day I returned home. My boyfriend had missed me. I had missed him. We're due in August.
7. When you have one miscarriage, it's business as usual. When you have two, the rules change. The third time around, they make you stick progesterone bullets up your hooha. For three months.
7a. Progesterone does different things to different people. It gives me backaches. And headaches. Acne to rival my teen years. And makes me retain water.
7b. Which is why I'm never going on the pill again.
8. While pregnancy carries with it a host of other symptoms, it is a welcome relief from endometriosis. And PMS in general. At least for me. My backaches are gone -- in fact, the heating pad burns have all but vanished. While my breasts hurt for other reasons, the fibrocystic tissue has calmed down considerably; I've not found a single lump since I got pregnant. My skin is clearer than it's been since junior high. No mood swings, no bloating unless I binge on salty foods (and even then it's minimal), and very few headaches. I feel...normal. Exhausted, but normal.
9. Pregnancy suppresses your immune system. I spent three days recovering from a flu shot in December (my first...the doctor talked me into it). Spent most of January and February sick with sinus/ear infections and bronchitis from two separate colds. I'm still congested. I don't know if there's a connection between the suppressed immune system and the lack of endo/FBD symptoms, but it's certainly food for thought. (I'm not sure what's worse, though. I don't miss the pain one bit, but it sure would be nice to be able to breathe.)
10. The human body is an amazing thing. I don't know why the first two pregnancies didn't last. I don't know why this one did. I'm not entirely clear on why getting pregnant (which the pill is supposed to mimic, on a chemical level at least) cleared up my symptoms. And I don't have any clue what to expect once I give birth and begin having periods again. What I do know is that for the first time since I began having periods, my body makes sense to me -- I can look at my symptoms and see the logic behind them. After so many years spent at the mercy of my own wonky reproductive system, I finally feel in sync with my body. It's doing what it's supposed to do, and for once everything works just fine.