When I was first pregnant, I saw a book by that title in the store, said, “HAH!! There’s no such thing!” I still sort of feel that way.
My first pregnancy, I got a faint positive pregnancy test some 4 days after my first missed period; then the next day, a second pregnancy test yielded a negative. I immediately got on the internet to find out why I might have less hCG 24 hours later, instead of more. At the time, I thought hCG doubled every 24 hours; now I know it’s more like every 48 hours. Of course, the most common reason for a negative pregnancy test when you’re actually pregnant is that your urine is just not concentrated enough, and doesn’t have enough hCG in it to make the test register a positive — you drank too much water and/or didn’t hold your pee long enough. But, of course, another common reason is that you might be having a miscarriage, and your hCG levels are dropping. Oh, yeah, worry-free! Not!
Then, the midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat at either 9 weeks or 13 weeks! I didn’t realize that the baby could hear or otherwise sense the Doppler, and was swimming away from it as long as he could. But I cried on the way home from that appointment, and was relieved that the midwife suggested I come in 2 weeks later, instead of the typical 4 weeks of early pregnancy. And at 15 weeks, we heard the heartbeat. Relief!
Much of my second pregnancy was not exactly filled with worry about the baby or pregnancy itself, but had its share of other worries (finances, and my husband being an over-the-road driver at the time). In fact, I waited until the midwife could hear the heartbeat with a fetoscope, assuming everything was fine until proven otherwise.
Now, with this pregnancy, I had the spotting in early pregnancy, which has, of course, been worrisome. Even though I knew that many women spot in early pregnancy, it had never happened to me. The spotting at first was worrisome; but the red bleeding several days later made me say, “Okay, I am having a miscarriage.” Then it stopped. But the worry has continued.
Somehow, worry and pregnancy seem to go hand-in-hand, and I don’t see that it’s possible for a mother not to worry, unless she simply doesn’t care about her baby. How could you not worry about your baby if you think you’re miscarrying? I’m not saying that every caring mother spends the entire nine months on pins and needles, constantly chewing her fingernails in fear and worry — that would be very non-beneficial to the baby, and not helpful to the mother either. But I think everyone has some level of concern, hoping that the baby is okay now and will be okay all throughout pregnancy.
When I was spotting and for the first several days after that, I was very tuned in to my uterus. Every twinge I wondered, “Is this the first menstrual-like cramp of the miscarriage… starting for real? Or, is it just my uterus growing because there’s a baby in there?” The little feelings of stretching or other twinges in my lower pelvis in the side made me think, “Is it an ectopic pregnancy? Is this the first sign of the fallopian tube swelling, prior to breaking?” Of course, the twinge would stop quickly, and if not, I did the old “round ligament pain” trick of pushing on the area with my hand and leaning into the area where the pain/twinge was, and it went away. [Update — I did end up miscarrying soon after writing this.]
When I was first pregnant, a sister-in-law expressed a little worry that I hadn’t experienced morning sickness yet; then a week or two later when I had been nauseated and/or thrown up at least once, she expressed relief. Why? Because she had known one or more women who had had miscarriages in pregnancies when they didn’t get morning sickness, but had morning sickness in every pregnancy they carried to term. There may something behind that — it’s possible that once the levels of hCG rise to a certain point, it induces nausea in some women; and if a woman’s levels don’t reach that high, it either causes or indicates a miscarriage. However, not all women get nausea; and not all women get it in every pregnancy. My mom and both my sisters had very low or nonexistent morning sickness; my paternal grandmother only got sick when she ate potatoes. So, I could have been one of those women, and not gotten sick at all! Yet my sister-in-law would probably have been worried for me until I reached the end of the first trimester, over my not being sick. And in this pregnancy, one of the first questions many people have asked me, when they found out that I had some spotting and bleeding, was, “Are you sick yet?” I know they’re worried that my hormone levels may not be as high as they ought to be. But I’m able to relieve them a bit by saying, “No, but I didn’t get sick until 8 weeks with my first, and I’m not there yet with this pregnancy.”
Another sister-in-law had nausea during her first pregnancy, but not during her second — at least at first. I found out recently that she had had spotting or bleeding during the second pregnancy, so she thought she might be having a miscarriage. So her lack of nausea was a real concern to her, because she too thought that it might be a signal of an impending miscarriage. She actually prayed that she would get sick. And she did. Be careful what you wish for!! I think she ended up being worse sick in the second pregnancy than the first, but she oddly felt better about it, because to her it was a sign that she was not miscarrying.
I can understand that. In one sense, in the “logical” part of my brain, it doesn’t make sense — to be thankful for nausea, vomiting, discomfort, or pain; but in another part of my brain, it does. Because with the fear of miscarriage looming in the not-so-distant past (and I know I could still miscarry, although I have no symptoms for it now), I get a twinge of worry every time I realize that I haven’t noticed that my breasts are sore and/or tender. Then I kinda gently push on them a bit and get a reassuring “ouch” that they are still just as sensitive as they ever were during pregnancy — in fact, perhaps more so — I don’t remember them being this tender for this long in my previous pregnancies, but I might be misremembering.
So, I don’t think it’s possible not to have some level of worry about some aspect of pregnancy or other, in the face of certain uncontrollable factors. Sure, a lot of women worry about things that they shouldn’t — things that are either normal, or are not necessarily a sign of something bad. Many women worry about labor, and (especially if it’s a first baby) face the fear of the unknown. And if a woman has a rough experience in a previous pregnancy or birth, she may fear a repeat of the first time. Which would be a normal reaction.
But worry isn’t healthy and much of the time it isn’t helpful. What is healthy and helpful is to face the fears, see why you have these fears, and what you can do about them. There may not be anything you can do to stop a miscarriage; but you may be able, through learning and educating yourself, to avoid a repeat of a bad birth experience. You may look to tests to reassure you that everything is fine (blood tests to make sure your hCG levels are rising normally; amnio or ultrasound to make sure that your baby is developing normally) — but often the knowledge gained from tests is not helpful in one sense. What if your hCG levels are not rising normally? You can prepare for a miscarriage, but you probably can’t do anything to prevent it. If an amniocentesis shows that there is a genetic problem with your baby, you cannot change that — you can prepare for a baby with a genetic disorder, or have an abortion; but the amnio won’t change what is (except it might cause a miscarriage that you wouldn’t have had without an amnio). Worry-free? I don’t think so.