Reinvention Co - Dusti Arab

I’m still reeling from Wednesday. Making good on a campaign promise, Biden’s administration provided student loan relief to millions – including myself.

As a recipient of Pell grants, meaning I was very poor when I went to college, $20,000 of my student loans were effectively wiped away with the stroke of a pen. I had to explain to my husband (whose parents paid for college) what a Pell grant even was.

For the first time in my adult life, getting out of debt finally looks feasible, and I’m so grateful. There’s more work to do around student loan relief and predatory interest rates, but for me and millions like me, this is a lifeline moving into next year.

But student loans weren’t the only thing on my mind Wednesday.

After two weeks of bizarre health issues that sounded awfully similar to the long COVID stories of folks I know, my doctor told me I’m 8 weeks pregnant. Again.

If you’ve missed the saga there, I just had my 5th miscarriage in two years June 21st. The dates on this pregnancy mean I managed to get pregnant literally the first time my husband and I banged post-miscarriage, and I’m just shaking my head.

Of course I knew it was possible, but up to this point, I’ve had at least a period or two in between without birth control. Then again, we already knew getting pregnant wasn’t the problem.

Yesterday, I went back into the doctor for my 4th appointment in two weeks. The obgyn ordered an ultrasound to make sure my miscarriages weren’t from structural issues.

If you haven’t had the experience of a first trimester ultrasound, allow me to introduce you to the term “transvaginal”. Basically, you get a plastic wand up your hoohah while a tech takes photos of you from the inside out, and it’s about as much fun as it sounds.

The sonographer was quick. “How many pregnancies? How many live births?”

I had to think about it a moment. “8. 2.” Jesus.

A few minutes after I’d arrived, she turned the screen around and said, “Eight weeks and one day. Heartbeat is healthy. Congratulations – the radiologist will follow up with you with more information.” Then she pressed a print of the images in my hand.

My breath caught in the back of my throat – I wasn’t ready for that. I walked out of the hospital in a daze, sitting down on a metal bench outside to wait for Jon.

When I got in the car, I tossed the string of images over to Jon, and I sobbed uncontrollably the rest of the way home.

How dare they make this feel this real this soon. Why congratulate me on a pregnancy I’m already so sure is going to end in the next few weeks I ordered a kit so we can test the tissue for whatever chromosomal abnormalities are potentially there?

Never mind how irritated I was finding out I was pregnant this week in the first place. With heavy travel coming up and the specter of morning sickness and exhaustion that I’ve already lived with long enough at this point to have had a baby, this all feels wildly unfair (and selfishly inconvenient). I’ve become so familiar with being devastated by grief in starts and fits like this that, like the rest of my life, I’ve gotten rather good at compartmentalizing it in a way that I am aware makes others awkward and uncomfortable when they attempt to give me their condolences.

So now we wait.

I lose precious hours to nausea and sleep while my body builds something I’m afraid (and assuming) I’ll find myself passing at home, dealing with the bloody and painful consequences of yet another false birth.

I waver between hoping it happens quickly so I don’t have to be sober in Italy with my best friend next month (like I said selfish, but can you blame me?) and accepting my pregnant hormonal mess of a situation and the infinitesimal chance that this time anything is different.

Mostly, I hope that I can occupy this space of gratitude and grief with some semblance of grace.

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