With my first child, I got pregnant quickly and naturally. The next nine (errr…ten) months were relatively uneventful, resulting in my healthy baby boy being born exactly on his due date. Everything like clockwork.
Then, I went on to struggle to get pregnant and ultimately resorted to fertility treatments, IVF to be exact. I got pregnant twice, only to lose each of these babies to unknown causes.
Which brings me to where I am today. 27 weeks (as of the date of pending publication) pregnant– via fertility treatments– with another relatively “normal” pregnancy.
Except this time is different. This pregnancy follows miscarriage. It follows heartache, shock, postpartum depression, hormone imbalances, grief, and so many other things…times two. This is pregnancy after loss, and let me tell you, it is just not the same.
Whether this is a situation you have found yourself in, or perhaps someone you love and care about, here are some things I wish I had known about pregnancy after miscarriage:
The TTC (trying to conceive period) is different now
After losing a baby, you don’t get to choose when you want to “try again.” Gone are the days of “let’s drink too much and see what happens.”
A loss takes a physical toll on the body, and it needs time to normalize following the trauma. Perhaps you had to have surgery following the miscarriage, and even if you didn’t, losing a baby naturally disrupts your body’s monthly rhythm. It can be weeks and even months before your cycle returns to normal, and your body is even physically capable of conceiving again.
Some may find the emotional aspect even more challenging– I know I did. I actually experienced a very scary period of postpartum depression following my first miscarriage. The hormonal upheaval paired with the grief of losing someone that I had wanted for so long proved to be too much. I turned to friends and family, therapy, and eventually medication to regain control of my life and my happiness. Even then, it took several more months before I was emotionally ready to consider trying for a baby again.
The two pink lines are not just a source of happiness but also major stress
Yes, of course you’re thrilled to finally be pregnant again! But that excitement soon shifts to anxiety as you find yourself back in that same, previously comfortable spot. You know all too well that these two pink lines are not the end all, be all of bringing home a baby.
Perhaps you become compulsive about POAS (peeing on a stick). Every day (or even every hour– trust me, I know it can get out of hand), you are testing to see if the lines have gotten darker. You’re using magnifying glasses, photo filters, and posting on online message boards to compare and contrast your test pics. Despite the variety of factors that can affect the “lines” and how dark they may appear at any given day or time, you throw logic to the wind and become obsessed. Until you have an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat for the first time, the stick is life. And so, you cling to it.
Speaking of obsessions, you become symptom psychotic
While the idea of morning sickness, fatigue, and aversions to taste and smell aren’t typically on your list of “my favorite things,” that soon changes. After a loss, you yearn for symptoms, any and all of them, and the worse, the better. The symptoms give your new pregnancy tangibility during the early stages when nothing else can.
Not only do you pray to feel miserable and bedridden as early as possible in your pregnancy, but ANY cramp, twinge, or gas bubble becomes something for doctor Google.
“Is this normal?”
“A sign of implantation?”
“A sign of miscarriage?”
“Is this GOOD or BAD, DOCTOR GOOGLE? PLEASE ANSWER ME!?”
As the old wives tale goes, the worse the sickness, the healthier the pregnancy, right? (For the record, this is actually factually untrue). I’ve done my research.
And, going pee will never be the same
The standard “Sit, Wipe, Flush” protocol now has an added step. Every time you go, you will, whether consciously or not, check for blood. You pee, you wipe, you look for blood, and carry on with your day. Even if your miscarriage(s) didn’t involve bleeding (many don’t), this new protective instinct will appear as naturally as if you’ve been doing it since you were potty trained.
Getting invested in the pregnancy may also take some time
With my first successful pregnancy, seeing the heartbeat on the screen for the first time brought tears to my eyes. I was overwhelmed with emotion and pure, unaltered joy. This last time…eh, not so much.
After all, I had seen and lost a heartbeat before. My mama bear instincts started to kick in. Except it wasn’t my son I was protecting; it was myself. While a lot of this was subconscious– as I truly did want to feel that warm, body-filling elation I had before–, I simply wasn’t feeling it.
Not only that, I wasn’t acting like the pregnant woman I had known in the past. I wasn’t taking (and sharing) “bumpies” every week and getting excited about what fruit or veggie my little bean was growing into. I wasn’t scouring Pinterest for nursery decor or shopping for 0-3 month onesies. My pregnancy obsessions were less “OMG, is it a boy or a girl? Let’s buy both!” and more “Will this baby stick?” Sad, I know. But true.
But this doesn’t mean I am any less in love with this baby
Nor, does it mean you are, either. As the weeks SLOWLY ticked on, the pregnancy did become more “real.” My anxiety eased with each passing milestone– the heartbeat, the continued growth, the “all normal” abnormality testing, the end of the first trimester, and even the first bits of fetal movement. I am proud to say I was finally able to stop using the at-home heartbeat monitor I purchased to keep my mind at ease between appointments. Oh yes, I went there.
For some women, I know connecting emotionally to the baby– whether in utero or even once they are born– can be challenging, especially after a loss.
“Is it OK to feel happy again?”
“Does this mean I’m a bad person for ‘moving on?’”
“How can I ever love this child after losing another?”
All totally normal emotions, and each woman will experience them differently. I find that being open with loved ones or even a third party– like a counselor– can be incredibly helpful in working through all of these conflicting feelings. Just know, you are not alone in this experience, nor should you have to face it by yourself.
Because you deserve this and you are worthy of all the love and happiness your rainbow baby will bring
Now personally, I am not there yet– I am not holding my double rainbow in my arms–, but I can feel it. I know it is coming, and I know that God is holding us all together in the palm of his hand as I anxiously await welcoming this addition that we have long prayed for to our family.
Is my fear of complications or loss completely gone? Of course not. But, is it running my life on a daily basis and causing me (and my growing nugget) undue stress? Also a no.
I will never “get over” the losses I have experienced. I am a changed woman now. My husband is changed. My family is changed. We will never be the same, but that is OK. We are stronger for it and even more thankful than ever before for what truly is the greatest gift we could ask for.
Now come on May, get here already!