I Did Fertility Treatments For A Decade. Then A Pregnancy Scare Became My Worst Nightmare.

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I Did Fertility Treatments For A Decade. Then I Had A Pregnancy Scare.
Self

For years, I lived my life as a mom to one little girl after years of infertility and loss. I had sex with abandon, no condoms, no birth control pills. For the first time in my married life, I wasn’t thinking about that next fertility cycle, that next round of hormones. 

It took another two tries to get it pregnant again, and last year I gave birth to our second and final baby. Another traumatic birth, perhaps even more so than the first. I had breakdown after breakdown, a baby in the NICU, an eleven-day hospital stay. I told my husband never again.

Because for me, sex never led to a pregnancy. In fact, for years, sex and getting pregnant were on two completely different planes. The only thing that ever worked for me was medical intervention by multiple fertility doctors in state-of-the-art clinics.

After seven IVF cycles and two traumatic births, I could safely say I was finished with my baby-making journey. I may have lived a long portion of my life wanting a baby more than anything in the world, but now I was confident: I never wanted to be pregnant again.

We talked about permanent birth control, which is still never an easy topic when you’ve been infertile, but never acted upon it. 

Getting pregnant on my own was the last thing I expected, but then one month my period was late.  

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My period had come back right away postpartum; the same thing happened the first time around.

Every 24-29 days, I knew to expect it again. After all, I’ve always been consistent in that area. 

Except this time was different.

First, it was three days late. Then it was a week. It was reminiscent of the days of waiting for my cycle so the fertility drugs could begin. I’d go to the bathroom, look at my underwear, and wait for the blood. Multiple times a day, I’d obsessively look for blood.

But blood wasn’t coming. Instead of feeling a weird sort of excitement that maybe I’d miraculously conceived on my own, I was terrified. I was six months postpartum, breastfeeding, and had an awful track record of spontaneous pregnancies. How could this possibly be happening?

One day, the dinner we were making suddenly sounded like the most disgusting thing I could put in my mouth. The next morning, opening the fridge to make breakfast made my stomach turn. 

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“Oh God, I think I’m really pregnant,” I said to my therapist. I hadn’t told anyone for fear of looking like an idiot once my period actually came. Since pregnancy tests didn’t exist in my house anymore, I knew I probably should go buy one. 

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I grabbed a three-pack at Target, along with some pads just in case which rewarded me a suspicious look from the cashier. I took it home, inspected my underwear once more, and took it. 

Negative. 

I held it up, squinting, a resident expert at pregnancy test lines. Was there a faint line there? Was I going crazy?

Another dinner of breathing through my nausea and aversions. I started feeling myself up several times a day. I had breast soreness with my other pregnancies. Maybe a third baby would be OK. Maybe this pregnancy would be different. 

No way. I couldn’t be pregnant again. Each of my births subsequently got worse as far as complications were concerned. Another pregnancy may very well be life-threatening. 

I was going crazy. Still no period. Still a negative pregnancy test. 

I took the last test a month after my period was supposed to start. One single line stubbornly remained. Clearly, I wasn’t pregnant, right? Why was I nauseous? Why did the thought of eating a hamburger sound so gross?

My period came one morning after I woke up, unapologetic and uneventful.

I felt lightheaded. I felt relieved. I felt even a little bit sad. Angry even. This rollercoaster of emotions. The redness that meant I wasn’t pregnant and never will be again. Infertility continuing to slap me in the face every month, even if the thought of going through another pregnancy wrought with complications scared me. 

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Struggling for years to have kids, it’s a strange place to be. We haven’t decided yet on a permanent birth control solution. There are a lot of mixed feelings I still haven’t dealt with.

I know I need to make a decision, but sometimes that seems impossible.

 It’s hard to bring myself to do it, even if I'm setting myself up for another stressful missed period.  

Risa Kerslake is a registered nurse turned freelance journalist from the Midwest and mom of two. She covers issues related to women's health, parenting, fertility, and mental health. Her work has appeared in Vice, Parents.com, Romper, HelloGiggles, Vox, and other publications. Find her at risakerslakewrites.com.