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Chapter 12

When I was finishing my PhD, I got this book called The Academic Job Search Handbook. I skimmed the whole thing, then read the first couple chapters on preparing your materials and so forth. I figured I’d never get past those chapters. (In fact, the first time I opened it, I happened to find myself in the section entitled handling negative feedback, and I expected to spend most of my time right there.) But then I got interviews! So I read the chapter on interviews. And then I got an offer! So I read the chapter on offers! And next year I may get to read the section on changing jobs after you don’t get tenure!

When I became officially infertile, I got Mel’s Book. I skimmed the whole thing, then read the first couple chapters on being diagnosed and the section on IUI and so forth. I figured when the time came, I’d read the section on IVF. And perhaps later the chapter on adoption and the one on living child-free. Unlike the job search book, I expected to have need of most of the sometimes grim territory Mel’s book covers. Except for chapter 12, the chapter on pregnancy. But after my third beta, I had the amazing experience of skipping ahead to that chapter. (And it genuinely felt like skipping ahead, like I might get to read some fun stuff now, but I’ll for sure have to come back and read the chapters on pregnancy loss, IVF, etc…There might be a quiz, you know.) As with the rest of the book, there is some sound advice to be had. The part that struck me the most was this. Mel says that while it’s normal to feel a crapload (paraphrasing…) of anxiety, you don’t want to look back after your pregnancy and think If I’d known it was going to work out fine I’d have spent more time enjoying the experience. And that while it’s normal to feel deeply reluctant to believe it might work out, if you lose your baby, it won’t be the happy memories that hurt you, it will be the loss itself.

I don’t know if the latter is true. It seems like those of you who have had losses suffer extra when you think about those happy moments. So maybe she’s full of shit. But her general suggestion is to live your life as though you’re going to have a healthy baby. It seems like a reasonable approach to take, and I might try it.

Meanwhile, can I just note how totally bizarre it is to have people giving me advice on something pregnancy-related? Really, really, really weird. And, today: no bleeding, no cramping, no reason to think Bun Bun is dead. Long may it remain thus.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. cgd #

    Interesting. This entire idea of looking back is interesting, you know what they say about hindsight afterall. I just think it is impossible not to get so caught up in the what if's.I have only had and lost one pregnancy so I cannot speak to the horror that must be RPL. For me, I actually feel sorry that I did not enjoy my pregnancy more, even though that baby did not make it. Plus, I am not sure that not enjoying your pregnancy actually protects you from the pain that comes with loss anyway.So my point is, enjoy every second of this, but do not be hard on yourself for the moments of anxiety, panic, and freak outs.P.S. i am so glad that all is running smoothly for you!!! YAY baby bun!!

    September 24, 2010
  2. i like her advice and i, myself, the most pessimistic, jaded person i know, am going to try it myself once i get a bfp. have been thinking that (once i get there), i might as well enjoy it, bc if it is taken away, it's not like having enjoyed the pregnancy for however long it lasted will make the loss hurt any more, right? vs living in constant fear. the "i knew it was too good to be true" can't possibly make the loss any better. when i think of your baby, i keep picturing a bunny rabbit in your belly :o) i'm serious. a little grey one with pink ears, and ever so cute!!!please please please try to enjoy this experience bunny. there's nothing to indicate that you'll have a problem *staying* pregnant. the *getting* pregnant was the hard part, and you've passed that hurdle, and a few others since then. i know the fear is natural, but i want bunny to be happy and carefree please. or as much as can be, given that we all know too much :o) xoxo.

    September 24, 2010
  3. D #

    Commenting for the first time (always awkward) but I had to weigh in on this one. I've lost one baby, and for me remembering the happy moments definitely doesn't make it worse. Telling my husband, telling my parents, the first ultrasound – I cling to those moments like beacons of hope that it will happen again. I agree with Mel, cut yourself some slack for feeling anxious and enjoy the hell out of everything else. Even if the worst happens (I feel bad even typing that) I promise you won't regret enjoying your pregnancy.

    September 24, 2010
  4. That is an interesting comment she makes about enjoying the pregnancy. It makes me think of mindfulness and how much it has to offer us. I mean, if we stop bullshitting ourselves, we really only have this moment. A bus may come to hit us as we cross the street at lunch, and that will be it. We don't know what's going to happen to Bun Bun, but why not live as if he's on his way to childhood, because today, that's what is going on. You have a healthy embryo inside of you.I remember how, when Mr. August and I first started our fertility treatments, I was hopeful and happy. Sure, once the treatments failed, I was in a dark pit of despair, but I thought a lot about how fulfilled I felt going through the treatments. I don't believe that this happiness made my despair any worse. It could not be taken away from me, that I had been happy for some months and expecting that the treatments would lead to a baby.

    September 24, 2010
  5. You seem to be doing really well at avoiding the terror. I'm glad.I think that saying 'try not to be terrified' is pretty pointless, and people who ARE terrified and try to follow this advice will only end up feeling bad about themselves for not succeeding You can't try not to be terrified!! Either you are or you aren't. And when the baby comes, you'll be happy about the baby, you won't be sitting around regretting any first trimester emotions that you might have experienced.

    September 24, 2010
  6. Gosh Bunny, you and my hubs would get along beautifully (clearly with Mel, as well!). This is just the sort of wisdom he's bound to give me when I am shaking with fear (pretty much most of the time). It's a lovely perspective and I appreciate the advice. xo

    September 24, 2010
  7. Thinking about happy pregnant moments does make me sad– how could it not?–but not sad that I ever *was* happy, just sad that I'm not happy *now*. Thinking about the sad moments makes me sad, too. It's just a sucky sad thing and I can't think of much that would make it easier or worse. Still, I wouldn't give up those happy weeks to be a little less sad now, so that must mean something.Despite my PhD from Google U, I don't have any books on IF at. I guess I'm still in denial. Do you recommend Mel's book to someone in my position?

    September 24, 2010
  8. R. #

    The advice is good, just easier said than done.

    September 24, 2010
  9. First, I'm sooooo glad you got to skip ahead in the book. Pregnancy after IF is such a strange place. I have never been happier since finding out I was pregnant, but at the same time I've never experienced such fear. Yes, I was scared when my AMH results came back so shitty…but to be so close with the possibility it can be taken away is overwhelming sometimes. I really do try to truly enjoy these moments. And there are times when I live in complete and utter bliss with just the thought of the two babies in my belly. It's so true, that those are such precious moments, it makes sense to take advantage of them now, no matter the possible future outcome.Hang in there these next few weeks – not too far from the 2nd tri now!

    September 24, 2010
  10. AL #

    I have to second what Sloper said, I'm sad looking back no matter what, not extra sad that I was happy and dreaming of a my September '10 baby and thinking it was a sure thing…it's just sad in general but not necessarily extra sad.I think it's good advice…but I'm not sure how possible it is for me to trust that things will work out…I'll try… :-)Sounds like you're doing a good job keeping the fear at bay (unlike moi) and I can't wait til you're out of the first tri and firmly in that safe zone. So glad things are going well for you, bunny!

    September 24, 2010
  11. It's really true. Being totally anxious and not telling anyone you are preganant because you're afraid you will have a miscarriage will not prevent one ounce of pain. But it sure is understandable once you've had a miscarriage to do just that. I think the thing that helped me the most was going to medical appointments and being told "everything looks normal" you hear this enough times and you start to believe it, at least a little.

    September 24, 2010
  12. Long may it! I think there's something to what Mel says. I happen to believe (when it's convenient) that thoughts do not change physical outcomes. I also happen to believe (when it's convenient) that they do. But what I'm getting at is that *not* savoring and delighting in every moment of this pregnancy doesn't make it any more likely that you will carry a healthy Bun Bun to term. Unfortunately. If it did, think of the wretched, fearful thoughts we could conjure up in order to hold on to our wee ones! But given that this doesn't seem to be the case, why not enjoy every moment of what you've got? Because it's pretty awesome.

    September 24, 2010
  13. Catching up on my blogs, and I'm so incredibly happy that everything is looking fabulous for you! I think that's great advice from Mel – definitely try to enjoy every moment you have.

    September 24, 2010
  14. Though I've not experienced a loss, I keep thinking about a line in a song that says these are the moments that you'll remember most. And remember them for a good reason in spite of the heartache and pain. I don't know if I'll ever get pregnant. But if I do I imagine I'd be thinking the same things you're thinking. xo

    September 24, 2010
  15. The latter advice is true. The loss itself hurts more than the happy memories. The happy memories are a blessing, that my husband and I can reflect upon, although along with that comes sadness that the pregnancy did not come to term. Yet I am so so glad that this last time we decided to enjoy it and be hopeful and not live in fear, although we well knew the odds, but it isn't going to change the outcome one bit. You have to live in the present, not the past or the future, and right now you are pregnant. Try to enjoy it as much as you can. It's normal to be anxious so give yourself a break. All your appointments have gone well so I think that soon you will be reading books about How to Decorate a Nursery Bunny Style and How to Deal with a Baby and Get Tenure at the Same Time. 🙂

    September 24, 2010
  16. Worry gets you nothing and steals so much joy. Too bad it is such an integral part of our lives.Live in the moment when you can. I think you can do it. I agree that you have been doing really well. Rock this pregnancy Bunny. Rock it.

    September 25, 2010
  17. Yep, yer one of those pregnet peeple! Get used to it! 🙂

    September 25, 2010
  18. There might be a quiz — you're brilliant, Bunny!And thanks for the reminding me of Mel's book. I have some on having kids and being a scientist, from the good times when I thought it would be difficult once they were there… ha.

    September 27, 2010
  19. I think it would be impossible not to worry and to completely live in the moment. That said, I agree with the advice. Try to shoot for happiness and expectations. It's better not to regret.

    September 27, 2010
  20. barfingrainbowsandunicorns #

    I can see this both ways. Thinking back on the happy moments of my lost pregnancies are the hardest part for me, honestly. But then I think about my wedding – I was so anxious and stressed during it that I didn't have as much fun as I could have – and I wish I could go back and tell myself that it was going to be fine and just relax.

    September 28, 2010
  21. I don't suffer thinking about those happy moments. I'm actually glad for them (though, just wistful that they couldn't continue). I think Mel's advice makes a lot of sense. Being happy, being miserable…it's not going to make a difference in the long run. I'd always rather be happy.

    October 5, 2010

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