Hope for the anxiety-prone?
October 22, 2015 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Husband and I expect to get news a week from Friday (possibly sooner but a week from Friday at the latest) that may either be very exciting and happy or sad. Meanwhile, I am destroying my insides with anxiety. Help me not do that.

I'm sorry - I was really trying to keep this quiet for a little longer but, well, my husband is my best friend. My last menstrual period was six weeks ago but I've been having scary symptoms. About a week ago, I started spotting so I called my doctor. The receptionist said not to worry about it and that it was probably implantation bleeding. This weekend, I took it easy and had sex with husband while spotting continued.

On Sunday, I started not feeling well. Monday, I felt nauseous and had an upset stomach. I rode a bike to work and saw blood - not dark brown spotting like previous but bright red blood. I called my doctor and they moved my test to confirm pregnancy to Tuesday. I took it easy for the rest of the day Monday.

At the doctor's office Tuesday, they confirmed my pregnancy and drew blood - I'm supposed to go back tomorrow for another blood draw so they can see if my HCG levels are increasing or not. The doctor said, call us if you have cramping or bleeding. I said, I'm having cramping and bleeding (though only that one time on Monday) and he was like, well, call if anything changes. I kept spotting Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and today have been significantly lighter.

I felt a little better physically Wednesday and today, which makes me feel worse emotionally because it makes me think that the pregnancy is over. I feel like my boobs were bigger before. I worry that I don't feel bloated anymore, though I haven't been eating much since I still have a little bit of an upset stomach. I still have some boobs and I never really had lower back pain which it seems like is common with miscarriage which make me feel like maybe it's not over but I'm worried that I'm grasping at straws.

I'm going back to the doctor's office tomorrow to draw more blood and am scheduled to have an ultrasound a week from tomorrow. I'm so nervous. Part of me is ready to accept that this one didn't work out but part of me feels like I'm giving up.

Is it possible that riding a bike caused the bleeding I experienced Monday? Should I give it a rest with the home pregnancy tests? I feel reassured seeing the two lines but I know that doesn't mean that I'm still pregnant.

How do I prepare for the ultrasound? I'm so scared. Husband has been wonderful and pragmatic. I'm just so sad thinking this could be it. I know whatever happens happens and we'll be okay and lots of pregnancies end in miscarriage and lots of people who have miscarriages end up having health pregnancies afterwards. But I still really want this to work out. I was so happy about the idea of being pregnant and being able to tell people around Christmas. Plus I don't know when we'll get to try again if this doesn't work out - not until November at the earliest.

I know YANAD and I know this might sound grim but I kind of need to think happy thoughts right now so if anyone can offer any words of wisdom or advice or anecdotes about your friend who had the same thing happen to her and she and her baby lived to tell the tale, I'd really appreciate it. I haven't talked to anyone about this besides the internet and my doctor. I was so happy to hear the nurses say "congratulations!" the other day and I'm so worried that the next time I go in won't be as exciting. Thanks.
posted by kat518 to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It is so early that neither symptoms nor lack of symptoms should be taken to mean anything!

(And even if you end up getting bad news… the long-term consequences of your pregnancy being pushed back a few months will completely disappear by the time the baby is born.)

Hang in there!
posted by metasarah at 11:19 AM on October 22, 2015

The #1 piece of wisdom I can offer you is to stay off the Internet, especially bulletin boards! Do whatever you have to do to stay busy and keep your mind off it. If it doesn't work out this time, know that nothing you did caused it not to work out, and nothing you can do between now and your appointments will change the outcome. Try, if you can, to think of the positives: your eggs and his sperms did their thing, and they can do it again. In your shoes I would just arbitrarily decide it's 50/50, keep as otherwise occupied as possible, and try to neither hope or despair. Neither is constructive for your anxiety and neither will change the actual outcome.
posted by bimbam at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Hang in there! My story: my husband and I were trying for a baby a year ago. It had been five weeks since my last period. I took a pregnancy test. The 2nd line was so faint that I didn't know what to think. Went in to see the doc. That very day I started bleeding. I was disappointed and assumed my period was starting. Kept the appointment anyway in hopes I was wrong. I was! I was pregnant and the doc said to find an OB and to let him know if the bleeding got heavy, explaining that if I had an extra-heavy period, it might be a miscarriage and to just keep an eye on it. (And he explained that even a faint line is a positive on a pregnancy test, duh.) The bleeding didn't get heavier and cleared up within a few days. The OB confirmed that I was still pregnant at week 7 and at week 8 we had an ultrasound and everything looked great.

At week 11, I went on a long run (which I hadn't done in awhile because I felt so nauseas from the pregnancy) and started bleeding soon after for 2-3 days. I freaked out. Called the doc and the OB. It was fine. I just stopped doing high-intensity cardio at that point and did other forms of exercise.

Result : gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 40 weeks 3 days!

Be kind to yourself during this time. I predict that everything will be just fine!
posted by Pearl928 at 11:31 AM on October 22, 2015

I am in NO WAY a 12-stepper but the answer to allllllllll my anxiety issues is the Serenity Prayer: Accept the things you can not change, and change the things you can.

Also, stay off the internet. For real.
posted by Brittanie at 11:41 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Please don't blame yourself or beat yourself up for anything; nothing you do or don't do this early will affect your pregnancy. Be kind to yourself, do something nice and relaxing, have a nice dinner out and watch a movie. The wait is so hard, I know, I had a bit of a long road getting pregnant myself and the delays felt eternal; looking back it was the blink of an eye. Breathe. My thoughts are with you.
posted by JenMarie at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm so sorry and I wish I could give you certainty and some promises, because that's what you need.

BUT I can tell you that I have been pregnant exactly twice and I have two beautiful children, Micropanda and Nanopanda, aged 5 and 2, and I had really frightening bleeding and spotting of exactly the sort that you describe for the entirety of both first trimesters. I even passed a chunk of tissue once. Like you are, I had the HCG draws, the early ultrasounds, the sitting silently and grimly on the couch feeling abject fear. Ultimately there is nothing to do but wait and see.

The more you can keep yourself mentally occupied, whether it's by zoning out and watching mind-numbing amounts of TV, or doing something really mentally challenging, the better. An idle mind has time to brood.

There are a finite number of hours until tomorrow, and a finite number of days until your ultrasound, and either things will be OK or they won't. If you can convince yourself, try to decide by fiat that things are fine until ABSOLUTELY PROVEN OTHERWISE. Whatever you need to do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, do that.

I had two pregnancies with bleeding and two healthy babies. I have friends who had a miscarriage after their first pregnancy but went on to have successful pregnancies very shortly thereafter. You are in the midst of a really tough time, but you'll get through. Hang in there, and we're rooting for you!
posted by telepanda at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't speak to the specifics of pregnancy, but my therapist gave me this great breathing exercise for the extreme anxiety I was having at the time, that might help you.

Every time I felt a panic attack coming on, I did this:

Take in a breath over 4 beats
Hold for 6 beats
Exhale slowly for 8 beats
Breathe normally
posted by raw sugar at 1:16 PM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Please don't blame yourself for any of this. The human body is a strange and mysterious entity - it has its own ways of protecting itself, and any other living thing that is a part of it. There are no hard and fast rules for why pregnancies may or may not continue.

Take care of yourself. This is not easy, but that includes trying not to stress about something that is out of your control. You may or may not receive the outcome you want, but I've known >10 women who had first miscarriages that went on to have multiple beautiful babies with ease.

That said... it looks like there's many women that have had similar pregnancies to yours, so things will probably be just fine. Fingers crossed for you and your best friend. You are indeed fortunate to have such an amazing partner to go through all of this with!
posted by Everydayville at 1:19 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm currently holding the 3.5 month old whom I was so confident I'd miscarried that I went to a friend's kid's bounce house birthday party and jumped around for hours because what did it even matter. Then the tests were still coming up positive when my next period should have come around, and I still only went in for an ultrasound because I decided it must be a molar pregnancy (if you don't know what that is, DON'T LOOK), but there was a teeny little embryo with its heart beating away and even though I continued to have spotting/bleeding all through the first trimester, it apparently it didn't mean a darn thing. I really hope this works out for you and I'm sorry it's so scary. The only thing that ever worked for me (besides my bizarre levels of fatalism) was long naps to help pass through the bad times.
posted by teremala at 2:16 PM on October 22, 2015

Oh and at one point my cramps were so bad that I seriously thought about calling 911 because I was working alone in a basement and was worried they might actually be cardiac in nature. Again, nothing ever came of it and nobody offered any theories about what was going on or why the problems all cleared up after about week thirteen.
posted by teremala at 2:27 PM on October 22, 2015

I can't speak about pregnancy but I do have experience with worrying menstrual activity and anxiety. Use your own judgment to decide if this activity will help you or harm you at the moment, and only do it when you have support nearby, but writing everything out systematically can really help me.

First I write out the big repeating things that won't let my brain shut up, both good and bad. Then I spend some time pinpointing which of those are truly irrational and not going to happen (for instance, when I was nearing panic attacks about some monetary issues, I knew I wasn't going to go to jail, but I was irrationally terrified of it, and being able to cross that out and write "not possible" in big letters was really helpful) and then for the remaining points I write out my gameplan for each contingency. You would write down what you ideally want to do depending on your results as well as different interpersonal worries like who you would tell what, and when. Then repeat this activity with less and less pervasive concerns until you have a sort of map of everything that is getting to you and all your hopes, too.

Look it over and try to determine patterns. Often there will be an underlying stressor for me that I don't really acknowledge, like my fear of isolation or need for perfection, and maybe you have stuff like that, too, that you can work on that is related but not dependent on the pregnancy issue. That way you feel productive and like you are doing something (you are!) but also distracted from the thing you just have to wait on.

This is the kind of activity that can tip someone over into a panic attack if they aren't careful, but for me it is much more helpful than trying not to think about something. Also good is if I can write a list of allies who can help me or just be supportive with this issue, so if I start freaking out I can look at where I wrote down something like "my mom will still love me" or "my best friend's sister has professional experience in this field". So, be careful, and best of luck, and I am glad that you are married to your best ally.
posted by Mizu at 2:35 PM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Did you buy the book I recommended in the earlier thread you linked to? It probably addresses your concern. This is EXACTLY the kind of freak-out that it's good for, and you have years of them ahead of you.
posted by intermod at 3:15 PM on October 22, 2015

I've heard so many stories of first trimester anxiety (so there's a positive symptom right there!). You may want to try to detach from your anxiety just enough to feel lots of sympathy for yourself as a person feeling lots of anxiety now. Less "I feel awful because I might've miscarried and I'm so worried," more "I feel awful because I'm having a big flare up of anxiety now." I'd assume that with pregnancy, there are a lot of chemicals in your body now causing anxiety, and even after you get those test results, the anxiety may well transfer to some other thing. Anxiety is awful. Be kind to yourself and try to stay distracted.
posted by salvia at 9:35 PM on October 22, 2015

Folks, these are basically the perfect answers. I'm still anxious but feeling better. I haven't Google'd stuff or looked on the internet for anything pregnancy related since hearing from you. I'm trying to tell myself that when the urge strikes, I should look for stories about puppies or bunnies on Buzzfeed instead. I napped and rewatched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night. Listening to music on the bus helps me not worry because my head can only contain so many things.

I think one of the tough things has been that I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this yet. My dad just visited and my husband wants to visit his sister and her baby after the ultrasound (I told him that might not work for me depending on how things go), plus there's a big family thing with my family in week 8. I like my boss and my colleagues but I can't tell my family this so it would be rough to tell them first, plus I'm still in my probation period at my job for a few more weeks. I saw an article that suggested telling one friend who has been pregnant early on just so you can talk to someone. I'm tempted to do that but I don't know. And any other time when I was anxious and trying to distract myself, I'd try working out but now I'm worried that could be a bad thing for the pregnancy.

I also feel hesitant to describe myself mentally as pregnant so I don't know whether I should do things like take B6 for nausea or try prenatal yoga or glare at people who take up too many seats on the bus (well, that's always okay, right?). When I wasn't bargaining with Flying Spaghetti Monster yesterday, I was trying to come up with things I could do/would do if this doesn't last. Fancy sushi dinner is not a fair trade but that would help me deal.

Anyway. You all are the best. "Thank you" seems small and inadequate at a time like this but I really mean it.
posted by kat518 at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2015

Not feeling like you can talk to anyone is one of the absolute worst things about early pregnancy, and I think part of why AskMe is full of threads of the form "I'm in my first trimester and $thing is awful and WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN??"

Early pregnancy is a fraught and secretive time for lots of women, and there are about a million reasons why people often just don't talk about how hard it is. The anxiety and worry you're feeling is a very real part of the milieu. Also the uncertainty about whether to -be- pregnant: I remember having just gotten the positive pregnancy test a few days before and staring at the form in the dentist's office and being like.......am I pregnant? What do I write on this line? Fuck-all if I know... (I eventually wrote 'yes') Don't sign up for any prenatal yoga classes yet, but maybe start taking some folic acid? Folic acid is a good thing to start even before you're pregnant, so taking it doesn't commit you to feeling pregnant.

I'm very much on team tell-someone-if-you-can. Is there someone that you'd want to know if you did have a miscarriage? It might be your mom (but it might not!), it might be a friend who's been pregnant. If you have that person in your life, you should go ahead and talk to them. Because you'd be telling them either way. If you don't have that person in your life and you'd just like to correspond with a semi-anonymous person on the internet, meMail me or any of several other people in this thread.

You're on totally the right track to aggressively seek out kitten videos when you feel twitchy. And try to do the CBT style stuff like saying to yourself "Yep, feeling anxious. Totally normal to feel anxious, everybody does at times like this. It'll pass." and go watch a dancing hamster or something.

Take some deep breaths and keep on keepin' on. You're doing great.
posted by telepanda at 9:36 AM on October 23, 2015

Letting yourself be pregnant now, whatever else may come, won't jinx it. I promise. Prenatal yoga is more for when/if regular yoga becomes uncomfortable and you might feel a little left out at this stage, but some extra B6 wouldn't hurt anything if you don't feel great. If you feel fine though, awesome, enjoy it. I didn't have much appetite while pregnant but otherwise hardly suffered, even in the late stages.

I do think you're right about not visiting the baby though. If you are still pregnant and not telling it'll feel awkwardly like lying, and if you're not, well, I won't drag a bunch of sadness in here but I can't see that being a good situation unless maybe if the sister has had a miscarriage and is a compassionate person you like talking to.

And yes, if an Internet stranger would do, I'd be happy to chat.
posted by teremala at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2015

I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you right now. Sending love and support for whatever the day has brought.
posted by Ruki at 8:48 PM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi all, wanted to offer an update. The ultrasound went well in that we saw a heartbeat :-) We also saw a pair of ovarian cysts which is not ideal but we're not going to worry about that for now.

The doctor said the person is the size of a grain of rice. This morning, my husband woke up, rolled over and said, "Good morning, wife. Good morning, rice." I'm hopeful about this person but whatever happens next, I'm going to try to hold onto the warm, fuzzy feeling that gave me. Ditto the warm fuzzies I have for all of you.
posted by kat518 at 4:58 PM on October 31, 2015 [11 favorites]

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