Congratulations on your pregnancy! It’s such an exciting time and an experience you are going to love and cherish forever. It’s not going to be like your first pregnancy – unfortunately loss changes you – navigating the new anxieties and challenges in pregnancy after loss is not easy.
Image adapted from Dave Newman | Flickr
This pregnancy, unfortunately, won’t be like your first. The innocence is gone and you know all too well how quickly things can change. How life doesn’t always line up the way we wish and hope for and that can bring a lot of anxieties, fears, and worries that you likely didn’t feel during your first pregnancy.
I just welcomed my fourth child – after an 18-month battle with infertility and a long history of pregnancy loss. Thankfully, my pregnancy made it to full-term and my baby is healthy and thriving, but the worry and anxieties were with me through the entire pregnancy. It can be hard to understand for someone who has not been through loss, – those fears never really go away, but it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t enjoy your pregnancy.
During this time, it’s important to be open and honest with yourself. Ignoring your fears and anxieties won’t make them go away – but it can make you feel isolated. I didn’t filter my thoughts when it came to talking to my partner. Sometimes that meant sharing the brutally honest and ugly fears, it meant I wasn’t always positive, but being able to say the words that were in my head – without judgement, helped kind of release the fear. At the very least, just having him say “yeah, I understand” or “I worry about that too” took that feeling of isolation away.
In my experience, ultrasounds are an appointment many pregnant mamas look forward to, but for me – these appointments brought so much anxiety. I would worry for weeks beforehand, I would stress and stress about them and it’s all related to my previous losses and one of the ways pregnancy after loss changed me. To make it easier, I made sure to have a talk with all my ultrasound technicians to let them know I am anxious and to be gentle with me. Those natural silences while the exam is being done would just turn my stomach and having them say right away, “There’s the heartbeat” would ease it and I could breathe again. Be sure to find a supportive doctor who knows your history, respects your fears and anxieties, and can help be there for you. My doctor would allow me to come in whenever I needed to ease my worries and hear the baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t need to do it during my pregnancies, but I think that knowing I could at any time I needed, helped so much.
Bonding with your baby and your pregnancy may take longer than you see other’s experience. Don’t worry about that because it’s totally okay. I was worried I wasn’t going to be the mother I wanted because I didn’t bond like other mother’s had with their baby in utero. I know now for that to be untrue, and be sure not to compare yourself with others. You may be trying to guard your heart – but trust me, it’s not going to hurt more just because you allowed yourself to feel happy if something does happen.
Pregnancy after loss is unique for each mother, but a unique situation for loss parents. Finding others who have been through it and leaning on them for support, understanding, and a sense of normalcy can go a long way in helping to have a positive pregnancy despite the anxieties. Be kind, gentle, and understanding with yourself and take things one day at a time.
Sending you much love and light,
Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief , which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss.
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