Pregnancy after infertility is the answer to a prayer. You are living your dream, and it’s time now to sit back and enjoy the fruit of all your hard work. Right? Oh, if only wishing made it so.
OK, let’s be honest. When you finally got a positive pregnancy test after all the infertility treatment and miscarriages, did you find yourself waiting for the bleeding to begin, waiting for the silence of no heartbeat on the sonogram, waiting to be infertile again? Were you scared spitless when you were released from the infertility clinic to your regular obstetrician? You are not alone.
I’m 9.5 weeks pregnant after 3 years of trying and 4 miscarriages. I still cannot express the joy and fear I feel everyday. We have just been released from our fertility specialist to now simply see our normal OB. I am terrified, but I really want to enjoy this pregnancy.
Oh boy, are you ever not alone.
Let Your Obstetrician Know You’re “High Maintenance”
Chances are good that you’re not going to be able to hide your anxiety, nor should you. If you’re pretty sure you’re going to need more reassurance and hand-holding, let your obstetrician know at your first appointment. Ask what might be done to help you trust this pregnancy– perhaps more frequent appointments and sonograms, at least until you start feeling the baby move. Given your history, I would hope that the obstetrician would understand. It is important for her to be on-board so that the sonograms and more frequent visits are covered by insurance. It is also possible to go to an independent sonogram center and the costs are not too high.
Home Dopplers? Home Sonograms?
Home dopplers are considered safe, but are hard to use, and the cheaper home versions are not nearly as sensitive as the professional dopplers in your doctor’s office. Even trained professionals often have a hard time finding the heartbeat early in pregnancy. By the time the heart beat is reliably easy to find by an untrained person, the pregnancy is far enough along that you are likely feeling movement so you don’t need the doppler for reassurance.
It is possible to buy a home sonogram machine at a reasonable price; heck, it is even possible to get one that connects to your smart phone and sends the sonogram to your doctor. But should you? I come from the philosophical background of less is better when it comes to pregnancy. I can understand the hypocrisy of talking avoiding too much technology when your child was conceived with the highest technology available, but I still question whether very frequent sonograms are advisable. But since I’m not a doctor, what do I know? Do me a favor though, and check with your obstetrician before you buy a home sonogram machine.
Find Other Pregnant Women
One of the little discussed aspects of infertility, is that often when you do succeed in getting pregnant you are out of step with your friend group because they are already past the pregnancy stage. You need to find other pregnant women for comparing notes and endlessly talking about every ache, pain, and movement. Join a exercise class for pregnant women, attend the pregnancy or baby care classes offered by your hospital, stalk other pregnant ladies at Starbucks. And don’t forget the wonderful 27/7/365 power of online pregnancy/baby forums. Nothing like company to relieve anxiety, or at least make you feel less alone.
How Does Anxiety Affect the Baby
One of the most irritating aspects of anxiety is that just being anxious can make you more anxious, especially when you are pregnant. As your brain starts to spin about the health of your baby, it’s pretty darn easy to start worrying about how all this fear is impacting your baby. That’s the very nature of anxiety-one fear leads to another and to yet another. Argghh! STOP.
Plenty of women have been stressed in pregnancy – think women whose husbands are being deployed or women considering making an adoption plan. I posed this question to Dr. Charles Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard University and Director of Research at the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. I figured he would know more than anyone about the long-term impact of a mother’s anxiety in pregnancy on the child. Dr. Nelson said that research has not found that maternal stress has not found a negative influence on the baby. At least that is one thing you don’t need to be anxious about.
If your anxiety does not improve after you start feeling the baby move or if it becomes too uncomfortable, get yourself to a therapist who can help you cope for the remaining months.
Were you afraid when you finally got pregnant? Did it get better when you felt the baby move? Was your obstetrician understanding? What helped to relieve your anxiety?Image credit: liquidindian