My Pregnancy Journey: Easy 40 Weeks Gave This Mama-To-Be False Sense of Preggo Bliss
It was Christmas 2010. Three friends of mine had babies within a two-week span. I looked at my husband and asked, "Are we going to miss the boat?" We had been married for a little over two years, but a lot had happened. The magazine where I had been an editor for three years folded right before we were married, so I had been unemployed for a long stretch. We had moved from Los Angeles to New Jersey in 2009 for my husband's job. I started a master's degree program at Rutgers University in Library and Information Science in an effort to embark on a new career as a librarian. But getting a second master's degree was so much harder than I expected. I got the worst case of adult-onset acne because of the stress. I was a full-time student, plus I had two part-time jobs: one at a public library in a nearby town and another at Rutgers, on a project the dean of my school personally had asked me to do. I was busy. My husband, whose career was flourishing, was busy.
But we weren't spring chickens. I was 37, and the clock was a' ticking. It was the most casual way into such a life-changing decision. We figured, "Let's give it a shot." We would start trying to conceive, but not gung ho-style. We'd poke our toes in the water. At this point I was the last of my married friends to start planning for a family. I had heard their battle stories, some funny in the ways that only life could be, but some tragic.
I told my gynecologist at my next doctor's appointment that we were going to start trying to to get pregnant and she gave me the most basic advice: wait until around 10 days after the start of my period and have sex every two days for about a week. That's it?
Right before our fourth month of trying — I believe it was in April 2011 — I was up late working on a term project, wondering how in the hell I was going to juggle a full-time course load, plus pregnancy, and then motherhood. So I sat down with an ovulation calendar and mapped out the most ideal time to get pregnant, one that would mean having our child during my winter break between semesters. It was the most idiotic thing. Like getting pregnant was going to happen just like that, perfect timing.
The thing is, it did. It's weird how — without getting too personal — I remember the exact circumstances under which our son was conceived. I don't remember all the other attempts, but I remember the ones that mattered. It was maybe five weeks later that my period was late, and I got this weird taste in my mouth. I called my mom back home in L.A. and, without getting her too excited, asked her about knew she was pregnant (she had four kids, so surely she knew something I didn't?). Did she get a weird taste in her mouth? Most definitely, she said.
I went to the drugstore to buy a pregnancy test. There was some no-name brand on sale, so, idiot that I am, bought that test. What, I couldn't spare a few extra bucks for something that would change the rest of our lives? The cheapo test came back negative, surprise, surprise. I got sad and discouraged. But my period still hadn't come, and the weird taste in my mouth hadn't gone away. How could I not be pregnant? I went back to the drugstore and got a First Response brand pregnancy test. Bingo.
Unfortunately, I don't remember how I told my husband I was pregnant. It's so weird. I remember so much about that time period, but not that one important story. Maybe my husband remembers. I'll need to ask him.
The ease with which we got pregnant was not lost on us. When we went and had formal tests done at the doctor's office, we got that whole pregnancy-after-age-35 talk, which is some of the scariest shit a mother-to-be could hear. For the first three months we were on the edge-of-our-seats scared that I'd miscarry. We prayed and prayed for a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Almost all of my friends had experienced a miscarriage. I don't know how they got through it. When we saw my son, looking like a little gummy bear during an ultrasound at five weeks — when we heard his heartbeat for the first time — who he was started materializing in our hearts and minds. I don't know how I'd let go of an attachment like that if I had to. Thankfully I didn't.
We were convinced I was carrying a boy and even had picked out his name, so as soon as we could, we confirmed his sex. I carried Salvador to term without incident. I actually had an amazing pregnancy; I never got morning sickness (something my mom, who had three girls and one boy, attributes to the fact that I was carrying a boy. "Girls are rough," she said.) I wasn't super active — that's one of the few things I regret — and my acne started clearing up, strangely. We cashed in our airline miles and hotel points and went on an amazing babymoon to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico when I was between four and five months.
I returned to school in the fall. Walking around campus was kind of fun. All the undergrads looked at me like I was a cautionary tale, an alien. And just as I was really starting to show, my husband got a job offer with a different company that would move us back home to Southern California. We wanted our son to be born back home so badly. He took the job, and at eight months I found myself unpacking boxes at the condo we rented in Orange County. I immediately set out to find a new OB, hospital and pediatrician, even as I continued my classes, which, thankfully all were online this semester.
Life was moving so quickly, I didn't have any real time to process the major move we had just made, or the fact that we were about to become parents. School was an interesting distraction. And just as I had planned so many months ago, I was able to finish the term before going into labor. I actually had about two weeks of mama-to-be-bliss — no schoolwork, no job — just me and Salvador, moving around in my belly. I went for a massage. I got a pedicure with glittery nail polish; I figured that soon enough I'd be on my back staring up at my toes while pushing a baby out of me. My toes might as well be pretty.
I'm so grateful for that peaceful respite I had before my water broke. I'll save my delivery story for another post, but suffice to say it was anything but easy. Considering how wonderful my pregnancy was, I figured something had to give.