It’s not really a secret that stress can wreck havoc on your fertility. It can throw off your cycle, keep you from ovulating, screw with your hormones, and even cause you to miscarry in extreme cases. Stress can affect you in many more ways as well, I’ve heard that stress has the same effect on your body as smoking five cigarettes a day! (source) I’m not very good at handling stress, I never have been. I’m pretty sure that one of my cycles was sabotaged by stress.
I work at a senior community planning and running activities. My boss recently announced that he is resigning. None of my team is interested in his job which means we’ll all get a new boss. This also means that instead of breaking my pregnancy news to a boss I’ve known for more than a year and am comfortable with, I have to break it to a relative stranger who may or may not be so understanding. There’s also the stress of getting used to a new boss and new policies. My current boss has always been very flexible which was a comfort to me when I thought about dealing with a pregnancy at work. Now I have no idea how a baby bump will be received. There are laws to protect pregnant women in the work place, but I am not so naive to believe that discrimination can’t happen in spite of those laws.
In addition to that, some decisions have come from the top of the company that directly affect me, and they aren’t good ones. I won’t delve into it, but these changes will make it immensely more difficult to do my job. It also tells me that my job is not valued by superiors. It’s an extremely difficult place to be.
My husband and I live in a big city, and the reality of where we live means we pay more in rent for our one bedroom apartment than a lot of people pay for their mortgage. Our original plan was to move into a larger apartment when our lease was up. We prayed long and hard about the decision, considered our options, and finally decided it would be smarter to stay in our one bedroom for another year to save money. This means that we will (hopefully) be bringing our newborn home to our very small space. I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out how this is going to work.
To top it all off, my cat, who has always been sickly and was recently put on a special diet, refused to take her medication and stopped eating. She did resume eating, but we are having to find another method for administering her medication. Trust me when I say, we’ve tried everything. I’ve been pilling this cat for seven years and she knows all the tricks.
With all this hitting me at once I was incredibly stressed out, the entire week had been a rollercoaster of emotion. I was having trouble sleeping and focusing, I was restless but couldn’t find the motivation to do anything. My boobs were killing me and I started to have really vivid and bizarre dreams. It wasn’t normal for me so naturally I thought this meant I was finally pregnant. Then, that Saturday, I got my period several days early. It started with some spotting, rather than starting with cramping like it usually does. This made me think it was implantation bleeding which would confirm my suspicions. Throughout the day the cramps got stronger and the spotting turned into heavy bleeding. There was no baby implanting itself into the lining of my uterus and if there had been, it was gone now.
I had been so sure there was a baby. I cried hard over the loss of that hope. I skipped church that Sunday and called in sick to work. My husband was more than supportive. He saw how hard the last week had been for me and knew I needed a break. This was truly a mental health day if I’ve ever had one. I was so torn up I needed a day to put the pieces back together, to cry, to think, and to rest. There was so much running through my head. Disappointment, uncertainty, anger, sadness, shame. I was mad at and ashamed of myself for not knowing what was normal for my body. Sad and angry that we had to go through yet another cycle. Uncertain about what the future would hold for me at work. It’s been a few cycles now and there’s a tiny voice in my head that’s starting to tell me, ‘maybe there’s something wrong with you…maybe you’ll never be able to get pregnant.’
I’ll never know if we had managed to get a fertilized egg during that cycle, and whether or not my stress that week prevented it from growing. That knowledge won’t change anything, it won’t bring back the baby. We still have to try again. I have learned, and am still learning, that I need to trust God. Stress is a response to changes in life that are uncontrollable, but I believe God is in control and He will take care of me. It’s a struggle to shut out that voice telling me I’m defective and listen to God’s voice, but I know His is telling me the truth.
If you’re reading this and are in the same boat, here is my advice: It’s ok to be sad and to cry, it’s ok to need a mental health day, it’s ok to wonder what’s going on in your body and it’s ok to be wrong about what you think is happening. Things are always going to happen in our lives that we can’t control, but we can control how we respond to them. Whatever you’re dealing with, trust God, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself and don’t feel bad about it. This is hard, but you’re rocking it!