When I was going through fertility treatments prior to getting pregnant with my daughter, I was so scared. I had no faith in myself, in my ability to either conceive or carry a child to term. Every step of the way with our IVF treatment, I was thinking negatively, partly out of self-preservation but partly because I genuinely believed it: the egg isn’t going to be fertilised. The fertilised egg isn’t going to grow. It isn’t going to stick. I’m going to miscarry. Something is going to go wrong.
And so it wasn’t until the day of my Inu no Hi ceremony and the moment sitting on the train bound for Enoshima when I felt the popcorn-jump of her tiny kick for the very first time that I finally, truly believed that I was really pregnant. But by that point I was almost four calendar months along and, as things would turn out, only another four months away from giving birth. Not only was the novelty of being pregnant gone, but I was already so tired from all of the depression and anxiety (that had been part of the buildup to pregnancy) that I was in no real state of mind to do any kind of special announcement. The theoretical rush of congratulations from friends and family, while deeply appreciated, would have felt so distant from my mental state that I didn’t have the enthusiasm for it. It was only when ‘that virus’ started making its presence more widely known on an international stage that I felt comfortable bringing my pregnancy into the conversation, and even then it was related to how little we knew of covid’s impact on unborn babies.
And yet, part of me wonders how fair that was, to myself and to others in a similar position. Not speaking about my situation or fears earlier on adds to the general feeling of taboo surrounding the topic. Not mentioning my pregnancy earlier meant that I also suffered the loss of my daughter’s identical twin in relative silence (I know I’ve mentioned her on this blog and elsewhere since then), and that also feels like a disservice both to her and to other parents who have suffered similar losses. There’s still a feeling in many places that one “shouldn’t” talk about pregnancy before the first trimester is over, just in case it turns out that the foetus is unviable, in case the baby doesn’t make it. How stupid is that? How heartless is that?! For people who want a baby (and I am deliberately leaving people who desire terminations out of this conversation because while that is absolutely their right, this is not about them), a baby is a baby, the tiny beginnings of a human being from the moment the second line appears on a pregnancy test strip. While every person responds to different life events in different ways, any loss of a wanted child is a loss, regardless of when it happens.
I’ve found myself still buying into it, too, despite technically knowing better: in recent years when friends have shared news of their pregnancies at 8 or 9 weeks (so perhaps less than a month after a positive pregnancy test result), I caught myself thinking, “that’s bold, to be announcing it already”. But why not? Why not! Why not share what news you want to share, and when you want to share it! Why not trust in your support network instead of trying to shoulder everything alone! Especially in these times when many people are so far from their families and expected to push through so many other hardships without support.
Encouraging people not to discuss the early stages of their pregnancies is one of the myriad tools used by a patriarchal society to get minority genders to be smaller, be quieter, and to inconvenience fewer people with their struggles, their exhaustion, their vomiting, their sudden terrifying bleeds and medical scares, and their emotional turmoil from rapidly changing hormone levels. Encouraging people not to discuss difficulties with conception and fertility treatment options is more closely related to ableism: the inability to conceive naturally is a form of disability, and disabilities, as we know, make people uncomfortable.
I know that, yet I believed that, and now I don’t want any of that. I reject it.
Your discomfort at my expansion is no longer my problem.
I am very open about the fact that my daughter was conceived through IVF. I don’t have great eggs, great quantities of eggs, or great hormone levels. My body is not designed to successfully allow me to get pregnant without help. But with help, I can! I gave birth in April 2020 to a beautiful, healthy, wonderful child, and I want to give birth again! I want another baby! Knowing now that I can do it helps enormously. This time, I don’t want to crush my mental health, to doubt myself into a tiny ball, taking up as little space and making as little noise as possible, like I did before.
The treatment cycle for IVF starts at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Since we have no access to childcare and my clinic does not allow small children to accompany their parents to consultations, my husband is going to be more proactive about coming home at a reasonable time or taking time off from work when necessary to allow me to attend appointments (hooray). Will another miracle happen? Last time we only managed to get one single egg from my useless ovaries. Are there any eggs left?! Let’s see how this goes.