This vulnerable post was originally published on my Patreon page. A few updates have been added to keep this current. Please visit my Patreon for even more updates about my life and how this news will be impacting my sex ed career!
A few days after the first of November, I started feeling really dizzy and tired. I called my doctor, but she was out of the office that week, so I set up an appointment with the new physician’s assistant. He asked me all of the usual questions, took my blood pressure (which was mega low), took my temperature (which was slightly high, but normal), and had me pee in a cup and get some blood work done. He said that if the news was normal/healthy, I would just get the results in my online chart. If anything came up, he would call.
Content note: Things are about to get very personal.
8:00 the next morning, my phone rang. I was in bed sleeping next to my partner. We are not morning people, but I managed to answer by the third ring.
Physician’s assistant (PA): Hello, is this AJ?
Me: Yes, this is AJ. (I was suddenly struck with anxiety remembering that a phone call – especially one at 8 in the morning – meant something was not normal with my test results.)
PA: Are you sitting? I have some news for you.
Me: <trying not to panic> I’m in bed still. 8am is early for me. What’s up?
At this point I assume I am going to be told I have cancer, or maybe an STI. My partner and I had been having unprotected sex with each other for nearly two years, and we each had one or two other regular sex partners. We were strict about safer sex with others, but as an educator, I know that sometimes things happen even when condoms are involved. Truthfully, I crossed my fingers for gonorrhea. At least that was an easy one to treat.
What was said next though, was a sentence I had come to believe I would never hear.
PA: AJ, you’re pregnant.
<long silence of disbelief>
Me: Um, I think there may have been a mixup in the lab. Remember how we talked about my infertility and how I tried for four years? I can’t get pregnant.
PA: Well, I am almost certain this was not a mixup. Maybe a miracle? Why don’t you come back in today to confirm through a blood test?
AJ: Yeah, okay. I’ll be there in an hour. Is it okay if I bring my partner?
PA: I think that’s a great idea. This is big news.
As soon as I hung up the phone I started saying “ohmygodohmygod” and shaking my boyfriend awake.
Me: Babe. Oh My God. Wake up. It’s important.
BF: <mumbles and tries to go back to sleep>
Me: No! Wake up! I need you. I’M PREGNANT.
BF: <shoots up, now wide awake> WHAT?! HOLY FUCK.
Fast forward to the clinic. They get me in right away for another urine test and an hCG blood test. We wait what seems like hours for the results, but it was really only a few minutes. My partner can’t sit still, but I am convinced someone will walk into the exam room and apologize for a mistake in the lab.
I tried for years to conceive with my ex husband. We went through dozens of medical tests, hundreds of ovulation strips, boxes and boxes of pregnancy tests that were always negative no matter what we did. We had been on special fertility diets, used expensive lube that was supposed to help bridge the semen with the cervical mucus to increase odds of conception. We had spent thousands of dollars we couldn’t afford to try and make my dreams of motherhood come true. I had even taken fertility shots and had my ovulation perfectly matched with science for an intrauterine insemination in 2014. Still, nothing.
I had given up on the idea of pregnancy and childbirth. My identity was now as a sex educator, comedic storyteller, and polyamorous divorcée who was barren and embracing an adventurous childfree life.
I thought maybe one day I would foster or adopt, but I was certainly in no position to do that any time soon in my tiny basement apartment, barely making a living wage.
But the PA came back into the room holding a bunch of pamphlets and a very official looking clipboard. He handed me a print off from the lab.
PA: The results are conclusive. You are pregnant.
I don’t really remember what happened after that or how my partner responded. I think we just sort of half listened to what the nurses and PA told us, took the pamphlets, and left in a daze.
I was definitely in shock. Not only did I think I was forever infertile, but I hadn’t even missed my period yet. My period tracking app said I was supposed to start my period the next day…but the next day my blood hCG results came in and showed I was at least 5 weeks along.
I wanted to be happy and excited, but I still didn’t think it was real. Or maybe I tried to tell myself not to get my hopes up because miscarriages are common, especially for someone with a history of infertility and unexplained health problems.
However, it became very real within a few days of the news, when I woke up one morning with an uncontrollable urge to vomit. I spent that day stuck in the bathroom and couldn’t keep down any food or water.
I called my doctor and she recommended saltines by my bedside, sucking on sour candies for morning sickness, drinking ginger tea, staying away from strong smells, and getting out of bed slowly in the morning. I tried all of those things and a whole lot more, but my body wasn’t having it. My “morning sickness” was an all day spew fest. It went on like that for multiple days and I had to get admitted to the ER because I couldn’t even keep down water or the anti-nausea meds they prescribed.
I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum – a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance during pregnancy. I would continue to experience this condition for another 8 weeks. Early in the first trimester, on my best days, I could work from home next to the toilet for an hour or two and keep down plain crackers and ginger beer. When things were at their worst, I was throwing up 30+ times a day and unable to move more than a few inches. If I was having a very good day, I was able to leave my house for appointments and grocery shopping, but I felt horrible at all times and had to carry around my own personal barf bag.
My biggest and most badass achievement during those first few weeks was when I parallel parked my van with one hand while using my other hand to hold a plastic bag up to my mouth to catch my vomit.
I eventually started to come around. I haven’t thrown up in a couple of weeks but am still prone to dehydration and moodiness. I am constantly hungry but feel relieved about having any sort of appetite again.
Now that I am in my second trimester, I’m very much looking forward to eating for two and getting extra pickles on everything (which I have done for years anyway, but now people will think it’s cute instead of just weird).
When I first heard the heartbeat, I cried. It was really real. When my partner and I saw the baby move and squirm and wave on a screen, we both shouted things like, “Ah! Fuck! Whoa!” Fortunately, the technician was understanding and laughed along at our amazement.
I have had three ultrasounds at this point. We had a little bit of a scare with the second one looking abnormal, but so far everything seems to be going well (as far as we can tell). We do need to get a fetal echo to check baby’s heart just to be on the safe side, so fingers crossed everything is healthy.
The doctor told us last Friday what kind of genitals our baby has, but we will not be sharing that info with the public or even with friends. We know that a penis does not automatically equal a boy and a vulva does not automatically equal a girl, so we’re not going to be talking about the sex of the child with others. I have seen how early the gender stereotypes and restrictions start, and I am hoping to avoid that for as long as possible. Hopefully until our kiddo is old enough to let us know for themselves if they are a girl, boy, or neither.
Since I was so sick in the first trimester, I haven’t been able to work much. That means the podcast has been on hiatus and will probably remain on pause until March 2018, after all of the Valentine’s events of February have passed. I do have a lot of work coming up this month though, and am looking forward to getting back out there and teaching.
I am not sure whether this pregnancy qualifies as a miracle, magic, or just plain randomness in a wacky world. Whatever the reason, I’m excited and terrified and know my year is going to be very unlike any year I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to meet my mini Moosh in July!