Being a loss mom there are a great many things you dread: anniversaries, every twinge, going to the bathroom, etc. One of the biggest hurdles to my losses is the viability check of a new pregnancy.
My first pregnancy was going great. We made it to 8 weeks and saw a heartbeat. It felt good. Come the 12-week appointment, we found out the baby stopped living at about 8 weeks 2 days. Second pregnancy, we went in for a viability check, where the doctors get to take a peek at your little one and see if they can see a heartbeat. I went in for five consecutive weeks to be told, they aren’t sure and to come back. Finally at around week 12 they determined the pregnancy was not viable. Pregnancy three, I didn’t even make it a week after the pregnancy test.
I have a rainbow baby. She is almost three and full of spunk. So, when we discussed trying for another child, I knew that it would be hard.
I knew there would be certain things I needed to do in order to sustain the pregnancy. I did not know it would happen quickly, nor did I know that my anxiety about everything would be worse. Last week we had the viability appointment at 6 weeks, 1 day, which is about the earliest they can see a heartbeat. I walked in ready to hear, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” I had convinced myself that it was a dud, that it wasn’t there. For my rainbow I made jokes that I had Schrodinger’s Baby – I never knew if it was dead or alive. I found myself thinking about and knowing in my heart of hearts that there would be no heartbeat. I had a plan for the rest of my day as well. I would go to work for a few hours, then leave early and go drink margaritas.
I have a new OB from my last pregnancies. I had met her once or twice, and she was nice and reminded my husband of my good friend. So, I also had anxiety about walking into an office with a new-to-me doctor. I had anxiety that I would be getting drunk later, because I am obviously not pregnant anymore. When the OB walked in, she explained that today was the earliest they could even SEE a heartbeat, so we might not SEE anything, but do not despair. Insert the transvaginal ultrasound (if you’ve never had one, you aren’t missing anything).
We see a gestational sac. “…and I have good news for you. Look, there is a tiny flutter.”
The relief of knowing at THAT moment there is a heartbeat is indescribable. The worry set back in when I got dressed and walk out the door, wondering if it will still be there next time. I had convinced myself multiple times that my symptoms had stopped and I was carrying a dead baby. For my rainbow baby, I went in weekly to have them check – sometimes scheduled, sometimes not. I am trying to mitigate my need to have everything checked this time. My 8-week appointment is next, and it will be my next test of nerves.
Here are some things I do to help get myself through the crushing (at times) anxiety:
- Remind myself of what I CAN control
- Distraction – reading, TV, texting with friends
- Mindfulness – meaning I concentrate on what I am feeling at that moment. From the top of my head through to my toes. How my fingers feel on my legs, how am I sitting, how is my breathing. It’s kind of like meditation, but my therapist and I both think focusing on the here and now is super helpful. Everyone does this differently, please do not take my mindful as gospel.
- Make jokes about it – See Schrody above. Humor is very healing, while also a deflection of true feelings can help in a pinch.
- Talking with the women in the PALS Facebook groups. They have been here, and they get it. Validation is great.