[Interview with the author’s sister, who prefers to remain anonymous.]
Trying to get pregnant for the first time felt like firing in the dark. After eight months of peeing on sticks, I was at my wit’s end, and fertility kits were of little use since my hormones were all over the place. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) made sure my cycle varied between 30 and 70 days.
Months passed before I eventually turned to the doctor. She advised that I take Metformin to regulate my insulin, and Orlistat to help me lose weight. I stopped drinking alcohol, changed my diet, and got more sleep. Sex with my husband became functional and matter-of-fact, while “not pregnant” became my identity.
Months passed, and still baby did not turn up. Or so I thought.
Why can’t I get pregnant?
My emotions were running high, along with my stress. I’d all but given up. In fact, I did give up for a week or two. One night, after several glasses of wine, my husband and I decided to give ourselves an ultimatum. If nothing had happened after three more months, we’d explore other options, such as IVF.
That’s when sex became fun again. All tension and seriousness were gone, and we simply enjoyed ourselves. A lot. We had no idea at the time that this was precisely the energy needed to make new life. It was because I’d relaxed, opened up physically and emotionally, that I conceived. I’d needed to get out of my head and into my body.
How do you know you’re pregnant?
Several weeks later I still didn’t see or feel any physical signs of pregnancy, but instinct told me to take a test. I did, and it was positive, but I still didn’t believe it. So I took another test, and another. After the fourth I decided to go to the doctor who confirmed the pregnancy for the fifth time.
Irregular periods meant I needed a dating scan, which showed that I was seven weeks’ pregnant. Inside my womb was an embryo the size of a grain of rice. Finally I began to notice the pregnancy symptoms I’d been blind to before.
How does it feel to be pregnant for the first time?
I suddenly felt vulnerable. I had this tiny life growing inside of me that I was now responsible for. My sensitivity was heightened to everything going on inside and around me. Emotionally I was all over the place. Physically I was bloated. It was a rich and new experience, even if I was a little sore.
What can you expect during the first trimester?
Since it had taken me so long to get pregnant, I still had doubts, especially as my body didn’t change that much externally during the first trimester. I couldn’t wait for the 12-week scan so I could hear my baby’s heartbeat.
The embryo is so small during those first few weeks that you can’t feel it moving, especially if you carry more weight like I do. This only added to my impatience, but I did experience abdominal pains and some spotting. This isn’t common, and can be a side effect of taking Metformin during early pregnancy.
Things really began to change for me physically as I moved into the second trimester. I felt as if baby was taking over my body, but we weren’t always in sync. When I slept, he moved. When he slept, I moved. I was so cautious, so protective of the two of us, and yet I was enjoying all of it.
How to get pregnant
I’d got so hung up about taking tests and peeing on sticks, which all serve a purpose, but I wasn’t reading the physical and emotional signs that were already there. I would recommend checking your discharge, tracking all your sensations, noticing how your hips feel, and your breasts. Don’t be shy about it.
I was looking outside of myself for the answers my body already held, simply because I was so convinced I would never get pregnant. I’d made up my mind about what my body could and could not do without giving it a chance to prove me wrong. Even before I got married, I told my partner it might never happen.
There is a certain amount of social pressure on women. Her body is expected to do so much, and for it all to be so easy. If you absorb this pressure, you start to question your fertility, so you feel less feminine. That’s when the stress starts.
If you trust that your body is doing exactly what it is designed to do, however, without your head interfering, you begin to relax. The barriers to your pregnancy may not always be physical. Ready yourself mentally and emotionally to welcome new life, and stay open to receive it.