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Great Expectations

Brenda Albano

July 16, 2019

Great Expectations

Getting beyond miscarriage; when infertility takes you by surprise.

“I won’t be looking for work because we’ll be trying for a baby right away.” This was the phrase I gave anyone who asked what I would be doing in Sweden once I moved there in January 1999. Because it’s that simple, isn’t it?

You decide that the time and circumstances are right for you, and then start picking out baby names. No problem. My teachers were very clear about it. Have unprotected sex, and you will get pregnant. So with this point of view, I left for my new country and started the baby-making process.

Ok, so it’s fun. I’m not going to say it’s not. But there gets to a point, at around the time your 4th period shows up that you realize that perhaps the teachers were a little bit sparing with the truth about this exercise. By the time your 7th appears, you think that there must be something wrong with either you or your husband and start thinking about what options you have available. When the 9th appears, you’ve all but given up hope of having a baby without some form of medical intervention, and start dealing with the fact that perhaps you weren’t intended to have children. You even convinced yourself that this was the Lord’s judgement on you, that you would be such a bad mother that you weren’t even to be given a chance to prove your worth.

This was the situation we found ourselves in. Heartbreaking sobs in my darling husband’s arms heralded the arrival of the monthly period. He would hold me tight and tell me that everything would be ok, and after a day or so of depression, I would stop looking at it as being the end of a monthly cycle, and start counting days for the next cycle, when of course we would be blessed with this much-wanted baby. I never got to the stage of temperature taking, but I knew my ovulation dates, and the date that AF was due on the doorstep was ringed in black on my calendar. I knew what cycle day I was on, how many days there were to ovulation, and how many days remained until the unwanted arrival of my enemy. My cycles were like clockwork, and the slightest thing out of the norm gave me hopeusually false. And then it happened.

I was pregnant! I knew I was. Right from the moment of conception. It was an incredible feeling. I told no one because no one would believe that I could instinctively know, but if you’ve had the experience yourself, you will understand what I’m talking about. I had this kind of inner glow. I succeeded at last. I was no longer a failure in my own eyes. I was a mother. When AF’s date came and went and no sign of her arrival, I waited and hoped once more. I told Mikael at this time, and when my period was four days late, we went shopping for yet another pregnancy kit, merely to find that the only chemist open had sold out and we had to wait until the next day. It wasn’t needed. The unthinkable happened throughout the night. I suffered an early miscarriage. Inconsolable doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of emptiness you can feel at such a time. Even my husband, the man I love with all my heart, and whose loss was as great as mine, wasn’t able to touch the pain and soothe it. For a few days and nights, I grieved. I was unable to stop the feeling of helplessness and depression within my soul. Then I looked into my husband’s eyes and realized that my reaction was hurting him, and I knew I had to pull myself together and stop being so selfish. We talked about our loss, we hung on to each other, and we got through the first week, and then the second.

After a while, I stopped counting how many weeks I would have been pregnant and started to pick up my pen and write again. By this time, I was starting to get work published on a freelance basis and I had commitments that needed to be attended to. The emotional pain was still there, but no longer sharp. It was a dull ache that was rooted deep in my heart. I tried not to think about babies at all. Just after the beginning of December, about 4 weeks after the miscarriage had done its worst, I started feeling a bit off color. I was exhausted.

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I would complete whatever task I had to do for the day and then sleep. Emotional traumatic stress is what I put it down to. Then I realized that my period hadn’t come on its anticipated 28th day. I ignored this for a couple of days thinking that it was because of the upset my hormones had received over the lost baby. When it didn’t show up by the end of the week as it was supposed to, I couldn’t take it anymore. I bought a test kit and as soon as Mikael left for work, I used it. A positive x came immediately into the result box. I kept looking at the stick with disbelief. It was unbelievable. A month after losing a baby, I found I was pregnant again. With the test stick still firmly in my hand (I was scared to put it down in case it changed to negative!), I phoned Mikael at work and told him to buy some decaffeinated coffee on his way home. At first, he asked why, and then after a few seconds of silence, he realized what I was telling him. “Are we pregnant?” he shouted down the phone. In some kind of surreal haze, I seem to remember nodding at the phone and smiling before remembering that he couldn’t see, and I managed to squeak “Yes” in reply.

We now have a precious 7-month-old baby boy to enrich our lives. He didn’t come into the world without first causing some problems, but he’s doing great now. To anyone who is counting those cycles off and wondering when their turn will come, I would say, “Don’t give up hope.” Things happen when you least expect them, and despite what we are told at school, not everyone gets pregnant the first time they have unprotected sex.” As Mikael and I have learned, babies come when they are ready, and not to order.

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