So, I’m pregnant again. I have two beautiful children, but this is my fifth pregnancy. I’ve miscarried a baby between each of my children-one at ten weeks and one at nearly fourteen weeks. Pregnancy can be a wonderful, joyful time, but when you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, it can also involve anxiety, fear, and a whole host of other emotions. Here are my top five reasons why it’s difficult to be pregnant after a miscarriage:
1.The fear that often overshadows the joy…
As soon as you see that positive pregnancy test, you are overcome with excitement, but it also comes with a cloud of immediate fear. You worry that your body won’t sustain the pregnancy. You try not to get your hopes up (as if that would make you any less devastated if you lost the baby). You are a bundle of constant worry until you see or hear that precious heartbeat. Now that I’ve lost two babies, I think back to how naive I was during my first pregnancy. We invited family to hear the heartbeat for the first time with us and I had zero doubt that we would hear that sweet sound. Thankfully, we did, but I’ve since learned through experience that it could have turned out differently. Here are some thoughts from other moms on the subject:
“I struggled to connect with baby during pregnancy for the first few months. I had three miscarriages between my son and my daughter and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to have more kids. So even though I was excited, I also didn’t trust that my body would take care of my baby.” –Laura S.
“I lost my first after seven years of infertility. Once I got pregnant again- a year later- I wondered if I’d ever carry to term. I was afraid of repeating the heartbreak again and again. Thankfully, I didn’t have to.” –Jennifer S.
2.That awkward question…
Inevitably, when you’re pregnant, you get asked numerous times about what number child this is. This is a question most people don’t give a thought to, but when you have experienced a miscarriage, it can be very awkward. I usually give people the straight answer that this is our third baby, but then I feel a little guilty. I have been pregnant five times. I have two babies here on earth, two in Heaven, and one on the way. But, people don’t want to hear uncomfortable things, so I just stick to the basics and think about all my precious babies.
3.The constant anxiety over every bodily function…
After I became pregnant with our first rainbow baby, I was nervous about common pregnancy occurrences. Now that I’m pregnant with our second rainbow baby, I am plagued by anxiety and worry every time something feels weird. Is that a cramp or is it just gas? Did the baby move today? Is the toilet paper normal when I wipe after going to the bathroom or will I find blood? I felt the first tiny flutters of baby movement around 11.5 weeks with this baby. That’s obviously pretty early and the baby is still very tiny. That didn’t stop my anxiety-ridden brain from tracking movements and freaking out a little when I thought it had “been too long”. Even after hearing the heartbeat at two appointments so far, I don’t think I’ll be calmer until I can feel movement every day.
“I was hyper aware of every little twinge and pain in my body, worrying it was a sign I’d lost the baby. I would check my toilet paper for blood and would always assume it would be there. I didn’t trust my body again until I safely delivered that baby.” –Cheryl A.
“I peed on a stick religiously each morning for like a month to make sure the line continued to get darker. It was ridiculous, but I couldn’t fight the impulse.” –Hailie W.
4.The guilt if you are not constantly grateful…
When you’ve lost a baby, it seems that society thinks you should be forever grateful for the gift of being pregnant again. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely thrilled to be able to carry a child and hopefully birth a healthy baby, but that doesn’t mean that pregnancy is all sunshine and roses. It’s the mentality that someone always has it worse than you, so you should be happy with what you have. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Well, that mentality stinks in this regard. Some women have terrible pregnancies and their bodies go through tremendous strain to grow a baby. Other women are shamed for feeling loss in the first place. I generally enjoy pregnancy, but I am always sick for the entire first trimester and I’ve had some even more unpleasant experiences during this pregnancy. I should be able to complain if I want to!
“The hardest part about my pregnancy after loss was feeling like I couldn’t complain about my current pregnancy. I had severe HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) and the pregnancy really took a toll on me emotionally and physically. I think part of that was feeling like I couldn’t open up to anyone for fear of being accused of insensitivity or lack of gratitude. Just because I struggled during pregnancy doesn’t mean I was any less grateful!” –Amanda S.
“I had a very interesting situation. I got pregnant with my first and it was twins. I am a twin and twins are rampant in my family. I lost the other one around 12 weeks. It was so hard because I felt like everyone was saying, “well at least you have one baby”. I had the worst experience ever with an OB. I had an ultrasound where I was fairly certain the second didn’t have a heartbeat and the doctor just walked in the room and said, “well at least one of them made it”. I wanted to storm out of there and just start crying. I am so thankful for my son, but I still grieve the loss of his twin and felt like no one even acknowledged that it was a real loss because I still had one baby.” –Bethany M.
5.The feeling of utter helplessness…
This one obviously applies to all the women who find themselves pregnant after a loss for all the reasons already mentioned above. You have no control if something were to spontaneously happen to that baby. However, this one is actually directed a little bit more to the spouses. The worst part for my husband (other than the loss of our baby) was the feeling of helplessness. He was completely unable to do anything about the situation and it was so hard for him. When I actually miscarried the second time, I was out of town with our kids. He describes it as one of the worst times of his life. He wasn’t there to help me physically and it was terrible for him. He was worried and terrified about what was happening to me. Many men have a tendency to want to fix things and this is one thing that unfortunately can’t be fixed.
I have to say that I do love being pregnant and I am excited about this future addition to our family. But, I’m still plagued by fear and anxiety, I still miss the babies that I do not get to hold in my arms, and it’s hard on our whole family. My five year old asked me the other day if the baby was still alive. That was heartbreaking to hear because it affects everyone. When we heard the heartbeat for the first time, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, God did it!” So the next time you see a pregnant woman, don’t ask her awkward questions or chide her for complaining. Just say, “you look beautiful” because she is and you never know what she’s been through.