I feel that it is important to share my experience on Pregnancy After Loss.
Some may think that it is a strange thing to say: a Dad being stressed about pregnancy because you don’t grow the baby.
That is indeed true but I stood side by side with my wife Emily while she was pregnant with Reuben (Roo) and I can tell you, hand on heart, it is stressful for both Mum and Dad.
Especially if you have lost a baby before, and we had – Poppy.
The first real milestone was our 12-week scan. I remember being at work worrying that something was going to go wrong.
I think I googled miscarriage rates in pregnancy weeks every day, read the same articles a million times.
When you have been through the worst, you are so aware of what can go wrong that you can spend your days worrying over every little thing.
Then my mind would switch and think that I’d lose Emily instead or both her and baby. For weeks that’s all I could think of, and it just terrified me.
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Emily and I went in for the scan, and our hearts stopped while they looked for the baby’s heartbeat. Maybe 30 seconds go by, but it feels like 30 years.
Then I see it, a tiny heart beating away in there. Little man is doing ok.
At this tiny moment, all is well, and I can relax for a small moment. But then my mind starts to worry, right we have to get to the next milestone.
I remember thinking, how can I do this for 7-8 months?
Worrying every day, scared that we’ll lose another baby.
The next few milestones were our private gender scan and the big 20-week scan.
We’d gone for a private gender scan with Poppy, and we wanted to do it again this time around. As well as finding out if Poppy was sending us a little brother or sister, it was also another scan to see if Roo was ok.
There was no sound on the scan to start with so that just freaked me out. I could see something beating but was it the heart?
Was it all ok?
I had a minute when I thought the dream was all over. It had happened again, we’d lost our baby again.
The heartbeat was good thankfully, and we found out Roo was a boy. We cried. Part of me wanted another girl because we wanted Poppy so much.
But it was a boy, a whole new experience. Poppy wanted us to be able to go out and buy boy things for him.
She wanted us to have all the moments we had buying and sorting things for her. I like to think she just didn’t want to share all the stuff we’d bought her with a little sister.
Every scan was the same. Dread on the drive in. We’d sit and wait to be called in. Partly not wanting to go in just, just in case we were going to be given bad news.
You’d go in and have the 30 seconds of worry until you’d hear the words “There is the heartbeat” – the best 4 words to hear.
Now every scan had been brilliant, and we were told every little thing. What was being looked at was always explained to us and we were made to feel so at ease in such a stressful moment.
We’d hit another milestone, another moment to relax for a day knowing all was ok.
But the stress and worry always came back.
We’d been here before, everything was ok, and then the worst had happened. One of the things that an expectant father can’t experience is all the movements baby does in the womb.
His movements gave Emily comfort, but she too would stress out worrying if they were normal. Swings and roundabouts I suppose. All the scans were a great way for me to see Roo was ok.
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Then we had one awful consultant appointment where our fears seemed to be brushed off.
How can you just brush off our fears that the same thing can happen again?
If you’ve not been through it how can you know what it is like to be going through pregnancy after loss?
Emily complained, and it ended up leading us to have weekly monitoring at the hospital. Every Friday for pretty much the last 2 months we’d drive in at 7 am.
Scared but also excited. I was going to hear Roo and see that things were ok.
We had a goal to hit every week. Emily would go on the monitor, and there was Roo’s heartbeat. I pushed the movement button for Emily.
A small token job but one I loved doing. It made me feel helpful where I felt helpless most of the time. This lasted an hour and then we’d go head off slightly at ease for another small moment.
Nothing though could really take away the stress and worry that you have in pregnancy after loss.
In pregnancy after loss, some moments require you to go into hospital. The biggest scare was a week before Emily’s elective section. She noticed movements weren’t as normal.
So off we went into the hospital. Scared that we were so close to Roo being here yet it still felt so far away.
All I kept saying was, “He’ll behave when we get there, it all be fine.” Inside I was so scared that at the final moments again we’d be coming home with empty arms.
A midwife we’d had at our weekly monitoring was there and straight away made sure she looked after us, making sure we were ok and had us on the monitor for a little longer than we should.
She wanted us to have peace of mind.
Just seeing Roo’s heartbeat on the machine was amazing. Each time I saw and heard it just made me feel so at ease.
Not being able to feel him move made hearing his heart on the machine such an important thing for me. It was my reassurance that he was doing good.
Having goals and milestones to reach was a big thing for us.
It breaks my heart to know that others have had a loss and then had another.
I hope that they can dare to keep their dream alive of being able to hold their own rainbow baby in their arms.
Pregnancy after loss is hard, and you get people saying it’ll be ok this time – don’t worry.
Unless you’ve been through baby loss you can’t say things like that. We’ve been on the wrong side of the odds before and nothing can stop the worry.
Get as much reassurance as you wanted and need.
Don’t be scared to ask for anything.
Don’t brush anything off, go and get checked.
Your peace of mind and mental health are so important.