Today I am going to ask something that has the potential to be rather controversial, and very painful for some. And I'd like to apologise in advance if this upsets any of you because of your own personal experiences, but it is something that I have been thinking about a lot and that I feel is worth discussing even if it is difficult.
So before I begin, I'll just leave this quick warning that if, for whatever reason, you find the discussion of pregnancy difficult right now, then you might want to skip this post.
I'd also like to say that I really hope that as many people as possible can get involved in answering this question with their own personal take on it, no matter what angle they are coming from. The very reason I am writing this post is because I want to know how people truly feel about this, and to find out the range of thoughts, feelings and opinions there are regarding this. So please do leave a comment, if you feel you can, and perhaps even pass on the link to anyone you think might be interested in having their say too. As always, any comments left will be unmoderated (unless, of course, they are abusive to others or simply spam!) so it's pretty much a case of "whatever you feel, please do write it and know it will be read". I fully expect there to be differences of opinions, and all I ask is that you respect that this is the case and try to remember that there are many people out there for who this subject is extremely painful.
So, on with the question... it is in several parts, so please bear with me!
Would you consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of your life, no matter what difficulties you faced either getting pregnant or getting through the pregnancy itself?
Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?
Are you still with me? Confused? Let me explain a bit more about this question and where it came from.
If you've been following my blog for a while you will know that this time last year my husband and I were unsure whether my Endo would cause us fertility trouble. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that now I am pregnant I would consider pregnancy to be one of the best experiences of my life. After all, with so many couples facing infertility, the very fact we conceived the second month of trying should mean we are overjoyed by our luck.
So let me first say that, yes, we are overjoyed, more than I can say. There was a time a few years ago when I thought my Endo would be so bad I wouldn't even feel able to try to conceive. So for us this pregnancy is a real blessing and has actually run very smoothly in terms of the health of the baby (i.e. we never had any bleeding scares, all our scans have shown normal growth etc). But, in terms of my health, pregnancy has been one of the hardest experiences of my life.
And that is saying something, because with Endometriosis I have struggled through years of pain, heavy bleeding, surgeries, hormonal ups and downs, and many various treatments. I am not new to nausea, pain and emotional turmoil, but pregnancy has taken me to new limits. Hyperemesis Gravidarum meant that for the first 3 months I was unable to even get out of bed without retching and putting almost any food in my mouth made me gag. I won't go over this again, other than to say that I lived in my own personal hell, where the simplest of functions such as even talking to someone could make me sick and so it felt like the world was continuing on its normal route through life and I was somehow apart from that.
If you've never been that sick then you probably can't understand that during those first few months I actually resented being pregnant. I felt immesely guilty for such, because I knew how lucky we were to be expecting a baby, but I still resented being so ill. My sickness continued at a slightly less intense level but still enough to stop me gaining weight and doing everyday things long past the halfway point of pregnancy and even now that I am anti-sickness medication I still suffer from daily nausea and extreme exhaustion. Added to that is the pain of hypermobile joints and an unstable pelvis (causing PGP), meaning I find moving around very difficult, and the sudden appearance of period-like pains and stabbing pains, we think are caused by adhesions or scarring from the Endo being stretched and you'll begin to see why pregnancy is far from the best experience of my life!
So when a friend of mine commented recently that she considered pregnancy one of the best experiences of her life, I had to stop and think about how I really felt about it all. I have been saying for most of this pregnancy that I would never, ever do it again. And that has been hard because I would have loved to have a second child in a few years time and I feel robbed of that opportunity because there really is no way I could do this again. I know my limits, and although I possibly could go through it again, I actually don't want to. It's not a matter of whether it is physically possible for me, but rather that emotionally and mentally I am not willing to go through such dark times again.
For most people that is impossible to understand. In fact I feel incredibly guilty for grieving the fact that I can't have an "easier pregnancy" when for some people pregnancy itself is impossible. And in that respect I also understand when people say that I will forget all about this once the baby is born and once my broodiness sets in again I will be willing to go through it again. But at the same time it irritates me that people assume that I don't know my own limits and think that I am just naively reacting to a difficult situation. There is no doubt that I am reacting to a difficult situation, but there are so many reasons why for us another pregnancy is not really an option we are willing to consider.
Which leads me to the second part of my question: "Given the opportunity, would you rather skip the "pregnancy experience" if it were possible to have a baby without 9 months of your body being pushed to (and beyond) its limits, and the many months before and after pregnancy that just add to the emotional and physical challenges?"
Tim was always certain he only wanted one child and I always felt that I wanted more. It was something we were going to face in the future, deciding when the time came. But since going through this pregnancy I actually fear falling pregnant again and having to face it all again with a young child in my care. And although I have started to accept that maybe we will be a one-child family, Tim has started to think maybe we shouldn't rule out expanding our family in the future. Which has led us to look at alternative routes.
Thankfully, we are both very open to the idea of adoption or fostering, if we find ourselves in a place where this is possible. And although we know that taking that route will be very different and may mean that our relationship with an adopted or fostered child will be different to that with our own child, especially if we end up with an older child who comes with challenging past experiences, we feel that we could love and cherish and nurture such a child as much as we will the one I am currently carrying.
But I know that for some people the absolute ideal is to have their own biological children, and adoption is not really something they would choose over pregnancy. And to be fair, had I had an easier pregnancy I would have liked to have tried for another child naturally. But if we do decide to look at adoption in the future, it will be a choice we have made rather than our only option as it is for some people. And in that respect I am much happier to say "yes" to the second part of my question than some people might be.
Yet I still find myself wondering about the relationship you build with a child and how and why for many people (including ourselves) trying to conceive is such an important part of our dreams for our own family. Despite being happy to consider adoption, I do feel sad that never again will we see our baby on an ultrasound and this is the only time I will ever experience a baby wriggling around inside of me, helping to build a bond before it is even born.
I asked this same question on a pregnancy forum I am part of and several people said that an easy pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean a stronger bond, and a harder pregnancy can still be completely worth it in the end. And with the advances in fertility treatment over the past couple of decades, more and more people are being given that chance to try and achieve that ultimate goal of experiencing pregnancy themselves. And I completely get that, because although we had considered adoption as an option previously, I still wanted to try for a baby of our own. It is a very instinctual thing.
But, still, I know that if we do decide to expand our family in the future, I would much rather choose the adoption route next time than face another pregnancy like this one. For many people this is completely incomprehensible, and the only thing I can think of that makes is an easier thing for us to consider is that we had previously discussed adoption as an option because we wanted to give a child in need a chance of a family life so it isn't something we have come to because it is our only option.
Of course, this is all completely invalid for many people. I have read too many infertility blogs to know how expensive and difficult adoption can be for some. And I have read too many heart-breaking posts from those who have faced cycle after cycle of fertility treatment in the hope of having their own child, only to end up childless or with only one child when they wanted a bigger family and are totally wiped out financially because of having to take the route they have.
Which is why I ask these questions in the first place. I want to know how others feel about pregnancy and what level of sacrifice they are willing to go to in order to have the family they always dreamed of. And as I said at the very beginning of this post, I know it is a difficult question and may well bring out some controversy in terms of answering it, because it is an entirely individual and personal choice. But I would still like to know how you feel about this.
And, again, I apologise if this is a deeply painful topic for you, as I know it is for many. I don't ask to hurt anyone, simply to know more about what we so often think is such an easy and natural thing, but is actually very complicated for so many of us.
Thank you for reading, and if you do feel you can comment, please do.