When I imagined being pregnant, my heart would fill with the possibility of tiny kicks, picture-perfect baby bumps, and adoring family members. I, too, was prepared for the back pains, swollen feet, and smell aversions. However, not much intimidated or scared me about being pregnant.
Until I experienced pregnancy after loss.
When my husband and I decided to start trying to have children, we got pregnant right away with twins. Unfortunately, far too soon after, I miscarried. My heart was completely broken. I had never experienced sadness quite that deep. In the seconds it took the doctor to say, “I am sorry, but neither baby has a heartbeat,” all my innocence of a joyful pregnancy came crashing down around me. Even talking about getting pregnant again was completely off the table. For an entire year. The whole pregnancy experience was not as I had imagined. But, I could easily imagine another pregnancy ending in loss.
When we did get pregnant again, my husband and I agreed to not tell anyone for as long as possible. Thus, there was no cute Facebook post, no surprise coffee cup in the mail reading “World’s #1 Grandma”, no phone calls to my oldest friends saying, “You’re going to be an Aunt!” Pregnancy after loss is not at all how I imagined. We hid my pregnancy for five months. There were no baby bump pictures, no sweet belly rubs from excited relatives, and no big gender reveal.
After experiencing the loss of the twins, I understood more than ever, that not every pregnancy ends in a sweet-smelling bundle of joy.
You do not always get to take your baby home. My fear and anxiety made any milestone unbearable, and I was always preparing for the worse. Rarely did I allow myself to be the glowing pregnant woman. I was, however, the woman paralyzed with worry, reliving the trauma of loss, and always anticipating hearing those gut-wrenching words again: “No heartbeat.”
At our 12-week appointment, the nurse was trying to find the heartbeat. For an agonizing amount of time, she could not find it. Like forced into a torture device, I had to just lie there, begging for it to end. Huge, hot tears ran down my face, pooling in my ears. I did not dare look over at my husband. I could not bear the worry written on his face. I was seconds away from crawling into my all-too-familiar dark hole of depression, complete with overwhelming feelings of loss and failure, when the nurse found a perfectly clear and strong heartbeat. Pregnancy, once again, was not at all how I imagined.
Pregnancy after loss is an insane roller coaster, full of life-shattering lows, and miraculously followed by beautiful highs.
I painstakingly counted my baby’s movements, at least ten every two hours. If I had not felt anything in a while, panic would immediately take over my body, and I would be jiggling my belly begging for her to move. She always did. Despite the jiggling, my daughter happily stayed in my belly for 36 weeks, making her debut early but in perfect health.
If you are pregnant after loss, I know the worry you are suffering. I understand the unexpected triggers. Consequently, I know you still hold your breath every time you wipe. Every cramp, every twinge can send you spiraling. Furthermore, I know you are counting down the days until you are holding your healthy little human, meticulously watching every breath. I am sorry you will never get that over-the-moon joy of pregnancy. I am sorry that was taken away from you. Loving your baby is supposed to be so simple. That is until you have suffered the loss of a baby. You are going to get your rainbow, Mama. I know it seems impossible, but have faith in yourself, trust your doctor, and lean on your loved ones. You have made it through the storm, and you are going to get your beautiful earthbound baby.