No two pregnancies are the same, and each birth and delivery is different. The same is true when you have lost children – whether you had natural childbirth or surgery, recovery after a loss is difficult and different each time. This post highlights the five untold truths after a 2nd-trimester miscarriage and infant loss. These are symptoms that I had after recovery of my natural delivery of my daughter Brielle, who I lost to a 2nd-trimester miscarriage at 18 weeks, and after my C-section with my son BJ who was born full term, but died shortly after birth.
1. Difficulty going to the bathroom.
Yes, I said it. No one told me that it would be difficult to poop after pushing for 4 hours with my son and 10 minutes with my daughter. I made a promise to myself that next time I am delivering even if it is a planned C-section I’m taking stool softeners a week before I go into the hospital. Stool softeners are your best friend. This symptom is the same with living children; it was just magnified with losing children for me. I wished that my labor was not in vain (pun intended) and that my difficulty pooping would be worth the pain.
2. Your breasts will fill with milk.
Your breasts begin producing milk around 12 weeks of pregnancy. So, if you lose a child after 12 weeks, you will probably produce colostrum after the baby is born. I was not shocked that my breasts filled up with milk after BJ was born. I think what shocked me the most was not being able to stop producing breast milk because every time I thought of him, my breasts would fill up. I remember one time I started to cry the day before his funeral and my boobs started leaking like faucets. This made losing BJ very difficult for me as that milk I produced was supposed to feed him and I wasn’t going to have that opportunity. With Brielle, I knew that my breasts would fill up based on my experience with BJ, but my foremilk came in earlier. Cabbage was my best friend in both losses to dry up my milk. Once I was able to go a few days without crying or feeling sorry for myself, my breast milk eventually did dry up.
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3. You still have to pay hospital bills.
Paying back hospital bills for surgery and natural delivery of my heavenly babies still makes me upset. I dread that I have to pay a monthly bill for my children who are no longer here. I know that I received the best care and that the doctors did all they could for both of my children. The monthly reminder doesn’t help my grieving process.
4. Your hair still falls out.
Being pregnant back to back two years in a row with only four months in between them, took a toll on my hair. Naturally, you gain strength and thickness in your hair while you a pregnant, but once those pregnancy hormones subside your hair slowly falls out. This may not be true for all pregnancies, but it was very accurate for me in both of mine. Around 2-3 months postpartum my hair began to shed, break, and fall out. Somehow I thought I would be immune to postpartum shedding after my 2nd-trimester miscarriage, but I wasn’t
5. You’ll have sleep issues.
Sleep deprivation is a truth for many new moms as they have to feed their newborns every 2-3 hours during their first few weeks of life. This was true for me after losing children although I didn’t have to wake up every 2-3 hours – I only could sleep that long after my losses. I would wake up in the middle of the night wishing, hoping I was still pregnant. I would look down at my belly and realize the dream I had wasn’t real. This was especially difficult after losing my son. It felt like he was still in my stomach moving and squirming around. It wasn’t until I was in a better place with my grieving process that I was able to sleep throughout the night. I still sometimes dream of my babies and wake up with thoughts of them that can’t get me back to sleep. Those times I begin to write out how I feel and God always gives me peace and comfort, and I’m able to get another few hours rest.
Related Post: The Painful Truth About Grief
All of these symptoms will happen after any mom gives birth to a living baby – for me, it was a shock after losing my children. Sometimes I wish I was told beforehand that these symptoms would happen. However, I’m happy that one day I will experience them with my rainbow baby in my arms.
Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash
Erica M. McAfee is the founder of Sisters in Loss, LLC, a Faith-based Grief and Pregnancy Loss coaching company that helps black women turn their pain into their purpose after loss.
Sisters in Loss provides consulting and coaching services to help women step beyond anxiety and fear and into trust and peace after loss. Sisters in Loss goal through courses, retreats, and conferences is to help women Minimize regrets, Maximize memories, and Manage their path forward after loss. It’s self-titled podcast spotlights faith-filled black women who share miscarriage, infant loss, and infertility stories and testimonies to heal, gain clarity and peace, find hope, and an empowering path forward after loss. Launched in August 2017, the podcast has a community of 3000+ sisters in loss.
Erica is a Grief and Pregnancy Loss Coach, Pastor’s Wife, and Mom to two angels in heaven and one rainbow baby Maxwell also known as Super Mighty Max. She is an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.