Day 2: Six Things I’ve Learned During Pregnancy After Loss

{October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, join us with the #thismotherhoodstory as we journal our way through topics surrounding grief and life after loss.}

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – Journal Prompt:
How has your loss changed the way you view or experience subsequent pregnancies? What do you wish people knew about pregnancy after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss?

My husband and I had been married for a little over half-a-year when we discovered that I was pregnant with identical twin boys. I loved being pregnant: I floated through those first few months on a carefree cloud of pregnant woman glow. I watched my belly grow larger and rounder; stretched by little elbows and knees that wriggled and squirmed just out of sight. It was miraculous and beautiful and most of all, worry-free.

Because I was carrying multiples, the hospital slapped a “high risk” label on my medical chart and treated us to extra ultrasounds and doctors appointments, but this all seemed a mere formality. Never once, did I worry about losing my babies. As far as I knew, words like “stillbirth” or “miscarriage” belonged in history books or museums — I didn’t know that they were still a very real part of 21st century life.

Fast forward a few months, and I was being rushed in for an emergency c-section: one twin born still, the other literally described as “limp and floppy” and fighting for his life. Our firstborn, Landon, was buried in a tiny plot of damp, green earth, and our survivor, Alistair, came home from the hospital seven weeks later. My life had changed irrevocably and I was embarking on the long and painful journey of life after loss.

At my six week postpartum checkup, I sat in my obstetricians office and listened as she reassured me that this loss was solely a twin-related complication. “You shouldn’t have any problems with future pregnancies,” she said with a then-comforting smile. I clung to her parting words, firmly believing that a singleton pregnancy meant never having to say good-bye.

Twenty months later, I finally felt ready to open my heart to the possibility of another child. We became pregnant almost immediately and couldn’t have been happier; I felt that I was finally getting a pregnancy unstained by grief. While the threat of miscarriage loomed in my mind, I shoved it to the side and considered it the after-effects of my first, traumatic pregnancy. I didn’t dwell on the possibility of another loss, I simply didn’t believe that it could happen again.

I miscarried that sweet baby at eight weeks. As I watched the broken fragments of my pregnancy swirl down the toilet, I knew that my naivety had gone along with it. Over the following year, an additional three pregnancies ended in first-trimester miscarriage. Today, we’re still waiting on a baby and still searching for answers. After five pregnancies and six babies, I’ve gained more insight than I ever wanted into the world of pregnancy after loss.

Here are six lessons that I’ve learned along the way, things that I wish the world knew:

1. You lose your naivety.
I miss the naivety that came along with my first pregnancy: that unrealistic but comforting reassurance that no matter what, you’ll come home with a baby at the end. Pregnancies after loss means that you live with a hyper-awareness of the fragility of life and the reality surrounding pregnancy complications. Suddenly, numbers like “1 in 4” take on a whole new shape and understanding. While this reality-check reminds me to cherish each day and avoid taking these precious moments for granted, it also brings with it a slew of extra anxiety and fear.

2. There’s no assurance that you’ll ever have another baby.
One of the hardest things to hear after the loss of a child is, “Don’t worry, you can always have more,” or, “At least you know you can have kids!” Individuals usually offer these platitudes with the best of intentions, but regardless, it’s just not a true or helpful statement. There are no guarantees that you can have another baby. For some couples, this loss may be a traumatic end to a lifelong dream. Even if there is a future pregnancy, there are no guarantees that that one won’t end in heartache too. Yes, we try to live optimistically, but we also want to remain grounded in truth. Ultimately, our fulfillment cannot not lie in the “promise” of another baby.

3. Another baby will never make up for the one(s) you lost.
Despite five, consecutive losses, my husband and I are still hoping and praying for another little one. This baby will never replace the ones we’ve lost, or erase the ache of a still-grieved heart, but they will bring with them a surge of joy and a feeling of conclusion to an otherwise open ending. Another baby, doesn’t mean that you stop grieving or missing your lost babies: they don’t replace family, they simply add.

4. Fear is very real, but so is love.
Pregnancy after loss is synonymous with words like “fear,” “stress,” “anxiety,” and “nervousness.” As soon as you see that positive test, those ever present doubts and fears begin to creep in, whispering that you’re going to lose another baby, that you’re just going to get hurt again. It can be temping to hold off on bonding with the baby for fear of losing them and hurting more, but in doing so, you’re missing out on a very real opportunity to love them and mother them for as long as you’re given. The fear that surrounds a pregnancy after loss can be intense, but so can the depth of love.

5. There is no “safe zone” in pregnancy.
In case of a miscarriage, many mothers decide to wait until the end of the first trimester before announcing their pregnancy. Because of this, a lot of first-time mom’s subconsciously feel that once they make it through the first twelve weeks, there’s zero chance of loss. Sadly, this isn’t true. After my stillbirth, I was quick to realize that there is no “safe zone” in pregnancy; while it occurs less frequently after the first-trimester, a loss can happen at anytime. Getting pregnant again after a loss means that your worries no longer end in the first trimester.

6. You learn to live each day to the fullest.
Pregnancy after loss means no longer taking days for granted. Each day that I get with my babies is a treasured gift from above. Rather than living in fear of the end, I make a conscious decision to cherish each moment and live each day as if it was my baby’s last. Showering them with love and wrapping my arms around my still flat stomach, I know that this may be the only opportunity I have to mother them. I may have another seven days with them, or I may have another seventy-years, but no matter what, I refuse to waste it. This doesn’t mean that the days are all perfect (or even good ) it just means that they’re lived intentionally.

This time around, I live with no regrets.

 


{October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month! In this week leading up to October 15th, I am partnering with fellow loss mama, and author extraordinaire, Stefanie Tong, to help create discussion and raise awareness about this vitally important topic. Each day, we will be tackling a new journal prompt about grief and life after loss, and we encourage you to join us! Use the #thismotherhoodstory hashtag to share your journal prompts and help us build meaningful conversations about the reality of pregnancy loss! We don’t want you to miss out on any of these posts, so be sure to follow along on my Facebook and Instagram AND on Stefanie’s Facebook and Instagram.}

Missed yesterday’s journal prompt? Find it here:
Day One: A Letter to Your Baby

JournalPromptPregnancyAfterLoss

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Day 3: Postpartum Depression - ECEmom

  2. Pingback: Day 5: Helping Your Child Grieve - ECEmom

  3. Pingback: Day 7: Your Motherhood Story - ECEmom

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