When I had my first ultrasound during my first pregnancy, I knew something was wrong. By my calculations, I was sure I was six weeks and four days into the pregnancy, yet the midwife was measuring the embryo at a mere five weeks. My heart sank. The midwife asked us to come back in a week to see how things were progressing. Although she didn't say anything was wrong, I could tell things weren't right.
Never having been pregnant before, the experience was completely new. And until that point, I never read a book or did any research on fertility, conception or pregnancy. After my husband and I left the doctor's office, however, I became obsessed with learning everything I could. What could be wrong? Was this small measurement a sign of something bad to come? Was it a possible mistake? How likely was miscarriage based on the information I had? For the next week, I searched the Internet for every possible clue as to what was happening inside my body. Dozens of articles later, I self-diagnosed the impending miscarriage as a blighted ovum. Sure enough, as I waited in the doctor's office the next week, I started to bleed and knew that was the beginning of the end.
The experience of miscarriage is heartbreaking. Many women go through it, yet it leaves many of us scared and fearful for future pregnancies. For so many, conception seems challenging enough; miscarriage seems like a cruel joke.
In the next few months as my husband and I tried to conceive, I would look at other women who would achieve pregnancy successfully without any issues and envy their seemingly naïve outlooks. They appeared invincible, as if the possibility of a miscarriage was a myth or urban legend. I WANTED that feeling. I WANTED to have that optimism. Yet, I felt as though my experience, coupled with my hyper-awareness, jaded my perspective, impacting my ability to achieve authentic optimism.
As a result, when my husband and I conceived this time, I made a pact with myself: No more reading about all of the things that could go wrong on the Internet and no more trolling community forums where I could read about other people's experiences. As much as I was glad I was well-informed and somewhat prepared for the reality of the situation the first time, I realized that in the end, ignorance was bliss. And so, in some small way, I was hoping to recapture my innocence regarding pregnancy by shutting myself off from information overload.
Today, 13 and one-half weeks into my pregnancy, I've kept my promise to myself, and it has helped get me through the first trimester. Although there were most certainly moments of fear of an impending miscarriage (and there will continue to be, I'm sure), resisting the urge to research every little thought or possibility kept me from obsessing over it. Moving forward throughout the pregnancy, I plan to continue this approach: reading only those articles which provide information that is important to viable pregnancies, not obsessing over what can go wrong and most important, trusting in my doctors to do the diagnosing and assessing of how the pregnancy is progressing.
I believe in a positive and optimistic approach to life. When we focus on the negative, somehow, negativity manifests and builds on itself. Staying positive can help us overcome our fears. It keeps us based in reality, instead of in a place of worry. It helps us live in the moment instead of in the past or future, where so much of our fear and worry lie.
Studies continue to show that when we worry and feel stressed, it directly impacts the fetus. Being a smart mom-to-be is so important. But I now realize that staying smart also means staying calm and relaxed. The health of my baby-to-be depends on it.
Have you suffered through a miscarriage? Did you find yourself consumed with the Internet? How did it impact you?