You hear it all the time – women who had “pregnancy symptoms” every month they weren’t pregnant and then nothing the month they actually were. I try to figuratively weasel myself into that category, attempt to cleanse myself of the urge to symptom stalk: deny – contradict – repeat. But I’m hungry. I’m tired. And my CM…well, without going into too much detail (it turns out discussing CM is where I draw the TTC-blog line) matches what other women said they’ve experienced before they found out they were pregnant. Dangling a carrot of hope.
I’ve made some improvements – baby steps if you will. I don’t add “early sign of pregnancy” to the end of my searches, and I purposely seek out the threads where the end result is a not a pregnancy – affirming what I should already know: I’m (most likely) not pregnant. Yet I’ve also fallen further down the rabbit hole. I’ve begun to try to rope my husband into my madness by listing off symptoms nonchalantly, hoping I can transfer my assumptions over to him. “I’m tired…I’m hungry…my boobs hurt…I have a headache…” waiting for the lightbulb moment when he finally looks over at me and he starts to wonder what my symptoms could mean.
He’s yet to bite.
My so-called symptoms are basic and nothing greatly out of the ordinary when compared to a normal day, but if I were to post about them in my community app I’d be greeted with, “These sound promising!” and “I have the same symptoms but I’m on cycle day 42 and I’ve been getting negative tests for 17 days now – could I be pregnant?” Lady, I don’t even know if I’m pregnant. Anxiety is sitting heavy on my chest (or are those my maybe-pregnant boobs?!) and I know that the more worked up I get about my symptoms, the more likely I am to not be pregnant. It’s just a fact of (my) life. I’ve flung rationality out the window and even though these symptoms are noted on my “Things That Don’t Mean The P-Word” list (you know, in case someone breaks into my phone and goes straight for my notes section, they won’t know what I’ve been up to) – I’m still considering them.
- Hunger– I wake up hungry and if I don’t eat for four hours I feel absolutely starved. There’s nothing strange about the basic human need to consume food, but I’ve convinced myself that this hunger “feels different” – which is the kiss of death during the TWW. Any time something feels different, it ends up meaning nothing.
- Fatigue – Yawning as soon as I’m awake, exhausted by 10 PM. This should be called being an adult, or more specifically – being an adult with insomnia, but I don’t usually have a problem keeping my eyes open regardless of the amount of sleep I’ve gotten. I’m trying to remind myself that during Month 3 I was so excited to be tired enough to take a nap during the day because I was sure it meant that I was pregnant-tired. The verdict? Not pregnant.
- Boobs – Ah, this one wasn’t so fun when it started post birth control. When I first noticed that my barely Bs were larger during my TWW, I naturally rushed to the pregnancy conclusion. I’ve had slightly bigger boobs, kind of heavier boobs, weirdly tingly boobs, boobs that hurt when you take an accidental elbow to the chest (which, it turns out, is completely normal). None of those happened to end in a positive pregnancy test, but they did succeed in getting me worked up over nothing. Now, I’ve tried my hardest to accept it as a fun perk to my period starting soon – it’s the little things in life (literally…) The first sign of the slightly bigger Bs this month didn’t set warning bells off – that happened later when I started to convince myself that they’re even heavier than normal and a little bit ‘tender’ if you will. (Note: if you need to thoroughly grope yourself like a high schooler getting to second base for the first time, they’re probably not THAT sore.) They’re super noticeable when I’m sleeping, or any time I’m braless, but per usual – I can’t tell what’s actually happening, and what’s just wishful thinking.
- CM – Barely mentioned above, and not going into much more detail here, but I’m annoyed that this is the one new symptom that’s really tipping me over to the ‘pregnant!’ side. If you too have found yourself scouring the forums for facts about pregnant CM (the pictures…the horror…) you’ve probably learned that there is no such thing. There’s fertile CM, and a description of what you should typically see post ovulation, but nothing that says “if it looks like this – you’re probably pregnant!” And yet I did find several sites that said just that, so even though I immediately added this to my list of symptoms that mean nothing, it’s got me wondering….
- Lightning Crotch – This is a real thing! I only just now discovered that there was actually a word for it – otherwise ever since I went off birth control (what a joyful little side effect of using my own hormones…) I’ve had to search words like sharp, stabbing, electric shock feeling in cervix. You’ll see a lot about this happening to pregnant women, but I’ve experienced it for every single month I haven’t been pregnant (and the one time that I was), so it’s definitely not indicative of pregnancy. The unfortunate thing? I experienced this earlier than normal in this current cycle, and the only time that I tracked this happening around the same time was the month that I had my ectopic. I’m not jumping to the ectopic conclusion, but my pregnancy warning bells are going off.
- Acne– I hate this one, strictly because I’ve had acne my whole life (and now I have acne and wrinkles – isn’t life THE BEST?!) so I should never be looking too much into it. My skin looked bad when I was ‘pregnant’ in August, but it also looks bad when I’m stressed, at certain stages of my cycle, or if I’ve been on an acne-free streak for too long (don’t want me thinking that I finally caught a break in the good skin department!). Maybe you can read into this if it’s not usually something you experience, but I definitely should not be.
Also listed on my ‘Not P-word’ symptoms: sensitivity to smells, peeing constantly, backache, cramps, bloating, and headaches. All things that I’ve felt when I haven’t been pregnant, when I was ectopically pregnant, and any other day of my cycle. At least I’ve learned to stop reading into the cramps (my right side has been painfully vocal since the ectopic) and bloating. Bloating? Really? Burritos, carbs, period – I’m more surprised when I’m not bloated.
If I submitted the list above as evidence to the Pregnancy Committee, surely they’d tell me it’s not enough information to go off of. What’s more upsetting to me than the thought of my impending monthly negative, is the idea that I’m injecting myself with anxiety and could be driving myself crazy for absolutely no reason. Losing sleep over things that aren’t worth it is normal for me, but it’s been eleven months. How have I not learned by now that this isn’t going to work out? The worst is wondering, after getting a negative test, if you succeeded AT ALL this month. What I mean is – what level did you get to?
Level 1: Ovulation – Complete
Level 2: Fertilization – Complete
Level 3: Implantation – In Progress
How much more bearable would these weeks be if you could say “ah dang it – didn’t even fertilize this month, oh well!”, or to know that you’re chowing down on pineapple core for a purpose – gotta try to complete that implantation! I’m a bad role model for the TTC newbies out there.
If you’re looking for a little bit of hope in your own symptom stalking spree, you’re in the wrong place. Okay no – I can give you this: I conducted a poll a few months ago where I asked women what their symptoms were like before they got a positive test. The options were: tons of new symptoms, no symptoms at all, and that they thought AF was coming. Majority thought that they were just going to get their period like normal, because pregnancy symptoms = period symptoms = normal, everyday symptoms (most of the time). It’s crazy how being hungry on cycle day 8 means something completely different from being hungry on cycle day 28. Unless I’m ravenous for days on end, I’m not allowed to count it anymore.
At least with my list, I can lie when I see my one pink line and say “I knew that didn’t mean I’m pregnant!” Unless…I am?
Special thanks to Heather for nominating me for the Awesome Blogger Award! If you like my blog, you’re going to LOVE hers! Check her out at: The Cyster Story!