It wasn’t until Thanksgiving, and at twenty-six weeks pregnant, that I finally felt comfortable to announce on social media that we would soon be welcoming our beautiful rainbow baby into this world. It must have taken me three hours to come up with a post that I felt truly exemplified my experience. I wrestled to find the right words to best celebrate the precious little man I was growing within, while also acknowledging and honouring the undeniable struggle I continued to face with the loss of my last pregnancy.
This is the post that I shared on my Facebook page:
Once it was posted, I remember shaking; both because I felt I had finally exposed a part of myself I had been hiding for the better part of a year, but also because I didn’t know how my vulnerability would be received. To say that I was completely humbled and touched by the immediate outpouring of love and support that followed would be an understatement. Within minutes, I had friends, old and new, sending me personal messages of their own struggles of love and loss that had affected them in a similar way. Suddenly, this intensely personal and lonely experience I had been holding onto became a shared experience of strength and resiliency that we could all draw from.
In speaking with each of these women, I realized very quickly that we had so much more in common than our losses. We shared a collective grief, often accompanied by a range of emotions such as fear, loneliness and guilt. And, for many of us, despite being able to conceive again, there remained this looming worry and uncontrollable anxiety that took over our new pregnancy, making it difficult to truly embrace and enjoy the experience — no matter how much we wanted to.
In order to process my own feelings, as well as to help any other women going through a similar experience, I have compiled a list of how pregnancy is experienced differently after a miscarriage. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it clinical, it does offer a glimpse into the effects of a loss like this.
#1 Fear of Another Loss
Whether you have experienced one loss or multiple, when you become pregnant after a loss, there is always a fear in the back of your mind that another loss could happen at any moment. You begin to worry about literally everything that has to do with the beautiful life growing within. For me, this meant that even when I should have been excited to see my growing baby on an ultrasound monitor, I would get sick to my stomach in the days and minutes leading up to those appointments. In fact, it was often difficult for the technician to read the baby’s heartbeat over the anxious palpitations of my own. No matter how far along in your pregnancy, there’s always that little voice in the back of your mind whispering a fearful tune, when all you want is to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy every moment of the miraculous process.
#2 You Worry About Every Ache and Pain
No matter how little, every ache and pain you experience is felt as a potential threat to your pregnancy. In the early days of pregnancy, you begin to question if this pain felt like anything you experienced in your last pregnancy; if this is a sign or a symptom of an impending miscarriage. If you?re over 20 weeks pregnant, you have your hospital’s birthing suite number on speed dial just in case you have to call them for reassurance. In my case, I had never experienced a pregnancy that went full-term to know what was “normal” and what wasn’t. Not to mention, every pregnancy is different, so, no matter who you talk to about your concerns, they will undoubtedly have had a different experience from your own.
#3 You Find it Difficult to Get Excited
This is where the guilt comes in. Given that planned pregnancies and excitement typically go hand-in-hand, you really find it difficult to navigate the delicate space between being excited for the life you are creating, and not getting too excited where another loss would be catastrophic. For me, this meant that we held off on sharing the news with anybody (other than close family and friends) until I was well into my third trimester. It also meant that I didn’t download any pregnancy apps or join any mommy groups or blogs during my pregnancy as I wanted to avoid any information that might make me paranoid or anxious. In addition to this, I hardly have any “belly pics” documenting my growing belly over the past eight and a half months. When most women are reveling in being pregnant, I was too nervous to take any pictures for fear that I’d have to once again delete them from my phone so as not to have the painful memory of loss.
#4 You Continue to Remain Hopeful
And yet, despite our loss, we continue to remain hopeful. We continue to keep trying, no matter the odds given to us by our doctors. No matter how scared we are, we keep trying. You know why? Because determined women are freakin’ warriors! Because we know, deep down inside, that once we are given another opportunity to carry life within us, we will treat it as the most precious gift we could ever be given. And once we meet that beautiful baby we have finally created, we will cherish every damn minute spent with them; because no matter how long or how difficult our journey has been up until this point, we would do it all over again to experience that perfect moment in time where we transitioned into motherhood.
To those of you who have experienced a similar kind of loss, please know that you are not alone. It is my belief that if we speak openly about our experiences, when we feel ready and willing to do so, we have the opportunity to educate others and remove the stigma of shame and guilt that has surrounded prenatal loss for far too long.
Beauty and blessings to all of you who have gone through or are currently going through a similar journey. Please feel free to share your story or comment below. We?d love to hear from you!
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