Choosing Joy

A few months ago, I miscarried. It was early, but I’d known somehow that I was pregnant. When we got the positive result, Casey and I were ecstatic. Thanks to cancer, we weren’t sure we’d even be able to have another baby, so the fact that we got pregnant on the first shot was kind of a miracle. Naturally, we were unable to contain our excitement – we went a little crazy and told our families and a few friends.

I lost the baby a few days later.

I was devastated. We were devastated. I kept trying to think positively, reminding myself that at least we could get pregnant. But it was hard. I blamed myself. If I hadn’t had that cup of coffee… If I hadn’t gotten that wax… If… If… If… The anxiety that I’d managed to keep under control for the past few months returned in full force.

I stopped writing. I couldn’t stomach it; the thought of writing anything that was circulating in my over-anxious, slightly depressed head made me feel physically ill. Instead, I hyper-focused on the next time we could try. I couldn’t think about anything except getting that stupid smiley face that meant it was go time.

We went a few rounds with negative results, forced smiles, and reassurances that it would happen eventually. And then somehow – magically, blissfully – it did. About 8 weeks ago we found out I was pregnant. I was determined not to waste this pregnancy whining, like I did during my first pregnancy.

But fear took over. For the first two weeks, I couldn’t stop worrying that I was going to miscarry. I Googled miscarriage constantly, looking for odds and statistics, for symptoms, for anything to reassure myself. I worried because I wasn’t sick. Maybe I’d made it all up – a hysterical pregnancy, all in my head because I wanted it so badly.

Then the morning sickness kicked in and I was happy, really happy, because it meant the baby was growing and things were progressing as they should. That lasted approximately three days before the constant nausea began to interfere with living. I was miserable. I would have to stop myself in the middle of a downward spiral of woe is me to remind myself that the baby was growing and things were progressing as they should. I’d do this in between bouts of dry heaving. I’d remind myself that things would be better in the second trimester if I could only ever get there. 

On top of the sickness and fatigue and general pregnancy woes, my doctor put me on progesterone because the cyst that feeds the baby in the first trimester was shrinking too quickly, so then I worried that I’d lose this baby too. I’ve spent the last four weeks trying not to think about it. I take the pill in a hurry, careful not to dwell on its use, and when the nausea rolls through and my body expands, I remind myself that the baby is growing and things are progressing as they should.

And I feel guilty all of the time because I haven’t enjoyed any of this. The initial excitement was almost immediately lost in a mess of anxiety, fear, and illness. I try to remember back a few months, when we thought Zoey would be our first, our last, our only baby, and how devastating that news was. I try to think of the women I love who are having trouble conceiving. I try to feel grateful, but all I feel is guilt as I pray to move past this moment.

Everyday I struggle to remember the good, to fight the urge to cry because I’m so sick and so tired and so nervous. Then, last night my sister made me a second dinner when I couldn’t stomach the first. Casey quietly left the house with Zoey when I fell asleep on the couch and then took her out for ice cream when I didn’t feel better. Zoey took my hand, led me to the toilet, and held my hair when I got sick. And this morning, I got to see the little beast who’s causing me so much distress.

Suddenly, the fear and pain? It was all worthwhile. And I realized I have a choice – I can choose to let fear cripple and debilitate me. I can let it ruin precious moments. Or I can choose to laugh through tears. I can be happy in the pain. I can choose joy.

So I will.

Even when I’m sick and tired and nervous. Because right now, the baby is growing and everything is progressing as it should.

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