Officially in the third trimester! I can hardly believe how quickly this pregnancy is going. My first pregnancy dragged by. I imagine second pregnancies are typically harder because of looking after a toddler or small child, managing sickness and fatigue and a growing bump alongside the busyness of parenting. Not the case for us, but in the wake of grief and an ongoing attempt to rejoin the “normal” world, pregnancy has been just one of many things going on. And so we’re here already, just over two months away from meeting this baby. Sometimes I worry that my attempts to withhold excitement and not let myself imagine this baby too clearly in our lives means that if and when he’s born healthy, I won’t be prepared. Practically or mentally.

Baby books on a shelf with a stacking rainbow and blocks - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 28: Asking for Help

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

A somewhat unspoken part of pregnancy after loss is the physical effect of repeated pregnancies.

We were very lucky to fall pregnant easily the second time, but I never would have chosen to be pregnant again so soon if Dottie had lived. We talk a lot about the bravery of pregnancy after loss, but I think for me, it was mostly desperation. I knew another pregnancy could come with sickness, exhaustion, aches and pains, and even potentially significant dangers (gestational diabetes, infection, pre-eclampsia, and so on), not to mention the pain and healing from birth itself. Yet we chose to try anyway because our longing for a child is enough for those downsides to pale in comparison. But they are still there. I am almost nine months postpartum and seven months pregnant; I’ve been pregnant for the better part of the last 17 months. I am exhausted.

And we hope it will be worth it. All the usual motivation is hard to hold onto, that the months of sickness and tiredness and not being able to tie your own shoes will be worth the eventual reward of bringing home a baby; the excitement of each milestone and the increasingly uncomfortable belly, leading you to the life-changing arrival of your little one. We know that these things aren’t guaranteed.

But things are going well, despite my growing anxiety.

We had a growth scan this week, and baby boy looks good, growing well – comparatively short legs compared to head and tummy size, which sounds about right for our family! We also booked our c-section date, which is both exciting and terrifying. Exciting that we have a date to count down to, terrifying because I now know exactly how long I have to keep this baby alive for. I got upset at the appointment, not because anything was wrong but because scans just don’t have the reassuring effect they used to have.

I’ve noticed that a trigger I have for anxiety is reading about other people’s protocols for pregnancy after loss: weekly scans, twice-weekly appointments, ongoing monitoring… So far I’ve been having monthly scans and monthly midwife appointments. It doesn’t help that healthcare varies so much from country to country, but I find it hard knowing that others are having more appointments than me. Shouldn’t we be looking more carefully? Shouldn’t they be keeping a closer eye on me? What if we don’t catch something? But I’ve been assured so far that we can increase monitoring if my anxiety requires it; until now, I’ve been okay. But it is getting harder. And the doctors listened and have increased my appointments, which I’m grateful for. I tried to resist the feeling that I was making a fuss or being a burden on an already overcrowded NHS. I try to remind myself that this is really, really hard. Even if outsiders can’t always understand it. Even if most believe, as a well-meaning colleague said to me this week, that “the universe wouldn’t be so cruel twice.” Only those in the PAL world know what an effort it is to simply get through the day while constantly wondering if all our babies will die.

So if you’re reading this and you’re also finding things hard but wondering if you’re overreacting, you’re not. This is really hard. It’s okay to admit that, get the help you need, and find people to help carry you forward.

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