Congratulations are in order — finally! A baby is on the way. But if you’ve experienced infertility as you’ve pursued your parenting dreams, you may be feeling more worry than elation. Here’s some advice about surviving—and enjoying — your pregnancy.
• Accept your anxiety. If it’s taken you months (or years) to get pregnant, or you’ve had miscarriages in the past, it’s normal to be scared. Talk to your mate, a trusted friend, or therapist about your feelings. If you’re still obsessing, set aside a specific time every day to worry— say 10 minutes — and then focus on the positives (perhaps that each day that goes by increases the chance that you’ll have a healthy baby).
• Roll with the changes of pregnancy, but don’t suffer in silence. If you’ve waited a long time to be pregnant, you may not fuss over morning sickness. Every pang of breast pain or wave of nausea means you’re finally pregnant. But feeling miserable won’t make you a better mom. Talk to your doctor about ways to quell your nausea and any other weird aches and pains that arise.
• Look for friends who understand how you feel. At the OB’s office, you may feel removed from the other pregnant women there, thinking that it was so easy for them. But every pregnant woman has her share of worries and scares. Your friends who are still trying to get pregnant probably won’t want to hear about the day-to-day ups and downs, so a friend who’s going through pregnancy can be invaluable. Prenatal fitness classes are a great place to meet one (or more).
• Decide how — and when — you’ll share your news. The well-known rule of thumb is to wait until after the 12-week mark to announce your pregnancy, given that many as 25 percent of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage before then. If you’ve had miscarriages before, you may want to wait until that point (or even later) to share your news. On the other hand, if you’ve shared your infertility woes with others along the way, you may want to tell those closest to you what’s happening now.
• If you have an unusual pregnancy—such as with twins or more—be prepared for more attention than usual. Being pregnant with multiples is often an obvious condition, even if you don’t reveal it to strangers. People may question you about it. Some are genuinely interested because they’re looking for information—after all, you can’t tell by looking if someone else is experiencing infertility. It’s up to you how much to share.
• Be prepared for emotional ups and downs. You have a lot going on. That doesn’t mean you should quit your job three months before your child is due, or make radical life-altering decisions right now (hey, you’ve already made one!). Thanks to hormones, your emotions are running high. Even if you’re filled with joy and anticipation, you may find yourself exploding with anger or sobbing hysterically for (practically) no reason at all.
• Enjoy your baby shower—or ask friends to hold off. If you’ve struggled with infertility, you may worry that it’s bad luck to have a shower before your baby arrives safely. If that’s the case, tell your buddies how you feel and request a “meet the baby” shower instead. Do what feels right and what makes you feel comfortable.
• Finally, let yourself enjoy this time. Boldly go to Babies ‘R’ Us. Go ahead and fondle the tiny booties you wouldn’t let yourself look at for years. Start a baby book for your future child. Read up on names. Talk to your little one about your hopes and dreams. Embrace the joyful experience in preparing your home—and heart—for your baby.
Kelly James-Enger is the coauthor of “The Belated Baby: Parenting After Infertility” (with Jill S. Browning, Cumberland House, 2008). www.belatedbaby.com