Out of the Woods?

Being "successfully" pregnant after three miscarriages, surgery and fertility treatments is an interesting thing. It's at times exciting, scary, lonely, bizarre, anxiety-provoking, calming and blissful. It's complicated.

Yesterday, I graduated to my obstetrician. She practically screamed in delight and hugged me when she walked in the examination room. She treated me before and during each of my miscarriages, and hasn't seen me since (as I'd been getting treated at my fertility clinic). I had my third ultrasound of this pregnancy. Ultrasounds are so different when they don't bear bad news. They are both fascinating and comforting, and I am awestruck at the miniature human in my uterus as well as the technology that allows me to experience him or her. My baby has a strong heartbeat and is growing exactly on target for his/her gestational age.

The first two ultrasounds were at my fertility clinic. Once they had confidence that the pregnancy was proceeding well, they had me go on my merry way to my OB, transferring all my medical records in the process. Today, I'm 10 weeks and 1 day. And yes, I know I'm breaking the cultural rules of announcing my pregnancy well before the first trimester (14 weeks) mark or the commonly agreed-upon threshold for a significantly diminished chance of pregnancy loss (12 weeks). But, as Abigail Rasminsky eloquently explains, maybe that's a rule that's worth questioning. And, anyway, if something tragic were to happen to my current pregnancy, I'd likely write about it. As I've written before, it benefits no one to continue to shroud this topic in shame or secrecy.

The most discouraging thing that my doctor said to me yesterday was when I sat in her office, and with great optimism, she looked over the ultrasound results and told me "Your risk of a miscarriage is very low. It's there, but it's low." While it was thrilling to see her so excited when she first saw me, this assessment comforted me more than anything else she said or did during my visit.

Because, when you have a history of pregnancy loss, you are hyper-aware that you're never out of the woods. You know that anything can happen in the first trimester or after. You know that you could have a stillbirth. You know that your non-invasive prenatal test could indicate that your baby likely has a chromosomal abnormality. You know that there could be complications with your child's birth. You know that there are no guarantees.

In a strange way, this can be beautiful. When you know you're never truly out of the woods, you can appreciate the moment of watching your beautiful growing baby's heartbeat. You can be present to what's here right now. You can watch the anxiety or fear wash over you at times and just let it be, knowing that it's here for a good reason and it will dissipate. You no longer need to fight it. You can hear and be aware of the deeper layers, as well-meaning friends with their own painful life experiences refrain from telling you that they are excited for you, but instead that they are keeping their fingers crossed for you... when they would never say that to the friend who has had a history of healthy, successful pregnancies. She's not out of the woods, either. None of us are.

Paradoxically, knowing that I'm not out of the woods and letting that take up some psychic space when that part of me comes knocking, is one of the most powerful practices that lets me be emotionally and spiritually "out of the woods." At the same time, when I allow myself to feel genuine excitement, bliss, magic and joy about my pregnancy and my baby, instead of pushing those feelings away, or telling myself that they're "too much" -- the positive emotions and sensations become even more powerful and profound, in a way that feels both undeniable and visceral. By letting all my sometimes complicated feelings co-exist and even welcoming them, I am free.

For more information on Tamar and her work, visit: www.curveballcoaching.com
If you are experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss and are looking for emotional and spiritual support, join Tamar and Wendy Obstler on February 21 for "The Practice of Practical Surrender. Information and registration here.