I wish that this were talked about more. The experience of being pregnant after loss is something that is hard to describe.
I’m sure it is different for everyone, but for me, the loss I experienced prior to my rainbow daughter dictated how I experienced that pregnancy.
I spent the entire nine months I was pregnant with my daughter terrified that something would happen. Every moment was filled with anxiety. I spent many nights and early mornings waiting to feel her move, and all day worrying that something was wrong. I remember feeling relief when hearing her heartbeat, or seeing her on the screen during an ultrasound, but this relief faded quickly within minutes of leaving the office and were replaced with fear.
The issue was compounded by having some complications with her umbilical cord and placenta that required extra monitoring. The chance of a cord accident was increased, so I spent the last trimester obsessively counting movements and encouraging her to move by jabbing my stomach to get a reaction.
It was maddening to spend so much of my time being scared. When I look back at her pregnancy, all I remember is the fear.
The anticipation of something going wrong, and the self-preservation in an attempt to protect my heart. I called the OB at least once a week during those last two months because of the anxiety that was dictating my life. It was miserable and exhausting. So many people told me that the real worry would start after she was born, but they had no idea what I was going through. To me, having her in my arms would be significantly less terrifying than having her inside me.
And it was much of the same with my son during his pregnancy. Even though I had experienced a successful pregnancy that resulted in a living child, I still felt overwhelming fear with my son’s pregnancy. The first 13 weeks were fine. I felt like this was out of my control. Like whatever was going to happen would happen and I would be fine either way. But at 13 weeks, I started spotting a little, which was the first sign of my previous miscarriage. I rushed to the OB’s office and a poor nurse tried to reassure me that spotting was normal. I broke down, catching the nurse off guard, and relayed my history.
In just a few seconds, everything shifted for me. I felt completely connected and committed to this baby inside of me. And with this feeling came the fear.
And again, I spent the remainder of the pregnancy worried every single day about the things that could happen. Not once during either of my successful pregnancies did I feel confident that I would have a living child at the end.
This feeling of fear, mixed with absolute love for the person inside of you is remarkably difficult to navigate. It is nearly impossible to feel happy or excited because the fear just eats those emotions up and keeps you in a perpetual state of anxiety. When I think back at both of these pregnancies, I feel dread and I hate that this was how I went through those pregnancies. It doesn’t seem fair and to be quite honest, it makes me angry. I’m angry at my body, at my mind, and sometimes I am angry at all the women who have pregnancies without complications or a level of fear. It doesn’t seem fair to me that some people experience pregnancy as a joyous and wondrous time when I spent the entirety terrified and barely on the edge of a mental breakdown.
Despite this anxiety and fear, I do feel something else about pregnancy at this point. I feel like it truly is a miracle when it all goes okay. When the end result is a happy healthy baby. Because so many of us know that this is not always the story, and not all pregnancies end in a happy result.