You are so brave. I know you probably don’t think you are, but please know that you are braver than you realize. If you’re anything like me, your pregnancy after loss is the hardest thing you have done since you said goodbye to your precious baby. I became pregnant just ten short weeks after my daughter was stillborn. Never had I felt such a strange mix of emotions – I was elated to know that at least one of my children was alive but I was so very scared that I was going to experience another loss. It takes courage to have another baby after loss; it takes bravery to face each new day. Pregnancy after loss is a long journey and you, sweet mumma, are the bravest of all mothers.
It wasn’t until I reached the end of my pregnancy that I realised just how much it had affected me. I look at photos from those 38 weeks and cannot help but notice the glazed look and bags under my eyes. I’m not sure that there was even a single moment of that pregnancy when I felt at peace. There were glimpses of hope but they were always tainted with worry and instead of finding joy in moments such as hearing a heartbeat, all I felt was relief. It felt as though I could finally let out my breath, but only for a moment, because I knew there was no guarantee that the heartbeat would be there the next day. To be pregnant when you know there is no guarantee of a living child at the end of it makes you so very brave.
I wish I could give you some advice, some words of wisdom to help you along this difficult road. But I don’t know that I can. I wish I could say that I thrived during my pregnancy, that I bonded with the baby straight away and made the most of each moment. But I can’t. I wish I could say that my Christian faith and trust in God was enough to give me peace and comfort during those long 38 weeks. But it didn’t. All I did for 38 weeks was survive. Sometimes surviving looked like an anxious mum-to-be, calling my midwife because something small had me concerned or going to hospital to be monitored for peace of mind. At other times, surviving looked more like collapsing in a heap, running into my bedroom to curl up on my bed and hide from the world and while crying endless tears on my husband’s shoulder. I suppose the only advice I can offer is to do what you need to do. If you need to hear a heartbeat, call your midwife or go to the hospital. Don’t worry about inconveniencing them, it is their job to help you through your pregnancy. If you need to fall apart emotionally, give yourself the grace to do so. Visit a special spot, go for a walk, listen to calming music or curl up on your bed and don’t feel guilty for allowing yourself some time. A pregnancy after loss does not take away the pain or grief from your loss and there is no need pretend that it does. Be honest with what you need and then meet those needs. I know that above all, you need your baby to be with you safely. But since we cannot know that until they are born, try to meet your other needs. You are strong. You are brave. You can do this.
As I sit here and gaze at my three week old son, I cannot help but think that the stress, sleeplessness and anxiety were worth it. A precious baby boy safely in my arms; a child of my own who is alive. And my hope is that you too will have a living child at the end of this pregnancy. Hold on, dear mumma, one day at a time, your baby is getting closer.
Larissa is a wife to Marcus and a mother to two sweet babies – Ariella Jade in Heaven and Levi William in her arms. She loves eating chocolate and ice-cream, but despises chocolate flavoured ice-cream. Larissa writes at Deeper Still and can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loveisdeeperstill.