I always knew that pregnancies after infertility felt extra long. Over the years I have counseled countless people to be prepared for a very slow start to their pregnancies. I took to reminding them that the old dictim, “you can’t be a little bit pregnant” doesn’t really apply to ART pregnancies. You do feel “a little bit pregnant” when there is an embryo and a bit more when it is transferred and more still with a first pregnancy test…. “Be prepared, “ I said, “for the hours and days to crawl by at the start. It will feel like forever going from five and one-half weeks to six weeks.” Little did I know…
My daughter’s experience with surrogacy taught me just how long an ART pregnancy can be. What I hadn’t really taken into account before was what I have come to call the “pre-mesters.” Before your gestational carrier starts her first trimester, there has been so much lead time. You have waited to see how many follicles there are, how many eggs are retrieved, how many fertilize and how the embryos grow. You have waited to find your GC and for her to pass all her screening. Together you have slogged through lawyer’s meetings and psychologist appointments. All this before day one of the first trimester.
The good news is that time does not crawl by throughout the pregnancy. Round about Week 18 or 19 or 20 things begin to pick up—or at least that was our family’s experience. I can remember it clearly because at the beginning, we lived from Thursday to Thursday—the day in which the number of weeks changed. Round about Week 18, Thursdays started to pass by like every other day and within weeks I actually had to pause for a moment if someone asked how far along she was.
So what can you do with this information—with the knowledge that the pre-mesters make the pregnancy feel so much longer? My advice, as both counselor and grandmother, is to maintain as much privacy as you can during the pre-mesters and throughout the first trimester. It is hard enough dealing with the snail’s pace of time and I think that having others looking on, asking questions, trying to help would make it all the more difficult. Your family and friends mean well but you may face some ups and downs during the premesters and having others involved can only make those times more challenging. It came up for me when our long awaited first transfer resulted in a negative pregnancy test. The news was crushing. Expressions of sympathy from others made it worse.
Now here’s the good news: it feels great to wait to share your joy. Since your family and friends will most likely not be seeing your GC during the early months of her pregnancy, you really do have the option to wait until you feel pretty confident that a baby is on the way. Imagine how different it would feel to tell a close friend that your GC is in her sixth month than that she is six weeks along. I know what you are thinking, “I could never keep quiet that long!” That may be true but you may find it a lot easier than you think to wait until Week 14 or 15.
And here is the very good news. Those long pre-mesters prepare you well. When you have waited so long and wanted so deeply, a baby’s cries at 2 am or a poopy diaper just after you’ve changed one may just fill your heart with joy.