• Alex Rathbun

The realities of getting pregnant


If you read the title of this post and didn't feel like it would appeal to you, you may just want to keep reading.


Throughout pregnancy and my postpartum experience, I realized that a lot of people (myself included) are pretty uninformed about the realities of pregnancy, birth, and having an infant. I think this is in part because the media portrays it in an inaccurate way. Women have also, traditionally, been shamed out of sharing experiences that are exclusive to womanhood (ie. having a period, talking about birth, etc.).


Because my blog continues to be a space for me to honestly share my own experiences in hope of making others feel less alone in theirs, I feel that sharing about getting pregnant, being pregnant, labor, birth and the recovery period are important. And as always, I definitely cannot speak for everyone's experience, but I can share what I know!



For us, the decision to try to get pregnant was not an easy one. I think most people who are privileged to be in a position of choosing when is best to start trying for a baby experience a lot of questioning when is best. Do we have enough money, time, energy, support and life-experience to have a kid? Am I in a spot in my career that I'm okay with taking a pause to focus on a baby? Are Eric and I in agreement about when is "best"? There was a lot of deliberation, tears, and frustration involved in this decision. It's a big choice and it was hard to make!


Prior to trying, I had not been on hormonal birth control, so thankfully I didn't have to wait for my body to adjust back to its regular hormones, etc. (clearly I am not an expert on this topic, but I feel it's important to note that birth control, an important and often necessary tool, is not so simple for a woman's body to get on and off of).


A woman needs to be ovulating to get pregnant, which only happens for about 24 hours, once a month. Not everyone can ovulate, but there are certain methods you can use to know if you're even ovulating. We used ovulation strips, which I peed on multiple times per day around the time I thought, according to my cycle, I was ovulating. Conception needs to happen within these 24 hours.


Next is finding out if it worked. Did that lil egg get fertilized? You have to wait 2-3 weeks to find out!


This waiting period was the hardest for me. You're not really "supposed" to share that you're trying, for fear of it not happening. Personally, I felt like I had this heavy secret that no one was allowed to know.


On the third month of trying, I knew we had timed sex correctly during ovulation. I waited two weeks, Googling every sensation I felt, hoping anything I was experiencing was the feeling of implantation. Then, on a very sad Sunday, I woke up to my period, my body's unfortunate, painful announcement that I was definitely not pregnant this month. I remember feeling extremely sad, down, quiet, discouraged and frustrated. Could I even get pregnant? With every month that passed, my baby would have a bigger age gap from his or her older cousins. Every month meant a longer season of uncertainty. And every month brought more intense sadness and discouragement.


And at the same time, I knew that three months was a very short time in the grand scheme of life. I knew people that had been trying literally for years to conceive. I knew some that could not get pregnant, and I had friends that had recently miscarried. Because of these things, my grief over not getting pregnant three months in a row felt invalid - that I didn't have a right to be sad about it. And throughout this, though Eric was extremely empathetic, he could not fully relate to the intensity of the feelings I was having. Here are some self-portraits I took on that Sunday:




And at least I could still drink my beloved margs. I tried to convince myself this was a good thing.



The next month, we went through the same steps: I peed on a little paper strip over and over until it said I was ovulating, had sex, waited two weeks, then started feeling the dreaded typical PMS symptoms that usually come a day or two before my period. But then it didn't come...


A pregnancy test is supposed to be taken during the first morning pee because it has the highest concentration of pregnancy hormones. But that Saturday afternoon, while we were at a baby shower of all places, I could not shake the feeling that maybe these pre-period pains were actually early pregnancy symptoms.


So that evening, I peed on a stick, nervously picked it up after waiting three minutes, and with disbelief read (faintly) that I was pregnant! What!? That second line was so faint, it must not even be accurate. (We later learned that no matter how faint that little mark is. If it shows up, you're pregnant!) I was pregnant!




(stay tuned for my pregnancy journey in next week's)


Brightly Alex