I have found through the fear of this pregnancy after loss, bonding and connecting with this precious baby I’m carrying has been harder than I expected.
After recognizing my distance, I knew I had to make a change and work to bond during my pregnancy after loss. The following are 10 ways that I flipped the switch in my mind to begin to connect with this baby.
1. I forced myself to look at it this way: Worst case scenario and I lose this baby too, would it hurt more if I felt disconnected to this baby or if I felt like I knew him and he knew me and we were forever bonded?
That set my mind and heart on the path that I had to get to know this baby and sometimes force myself to connect with him because the pain of feeling like I neglected him at all for any of the time I was blessed to have him would just be too much.
2. I recognized that it was that fear of losing him that made me reluctant to bond with this baby.
So, I had to think long and hard on what would possibly help ease my fears, even the slightest bit. One answer to that was to make sure that I had a doctor (or doctors) who just get it. Someone who would see me anytime even if my fears were irrational. Someone who knew I needed extra appointments, extra monitoring, and extra compassion. I found an incredible team of high risk doctors and they have definitely helped me to release some fears.
3. I used a fetal doppler as another fear-lessening tactic .
I know some people find it causes more fear if they can’t find a heartbeat right away, but for me, some days it has been the only thing to keep my sanity. When there is no other way to know anything about baby, putting that wand up to my belly not only calmed some fears but also helped me to remember what a precious miracle and blessing I am carrying. Those heart tones belong to MY living baby. The baby we worked hard to create. I felt like I knew him better. I could hear his movements. I knew where he was. I felt connected to him.
4. I shared the news with family and friends early on.
We actually ended up sharing the news of this pregnancy with our families even earlier than we did last time. I knew that their excitement and prayers would help to make it all feel real to me. Some days, especially early on, their excitement and love for this baby was contagious for me and helped me feel more positive.
5. I decided that taking bump pictures through this pregnancy was important, even though I was reluctant.
I couldn’t get myself to do it every week but compromised to take them every-other week. I am glad I did. I love going back through my pictures and seeing my bump growing and knowing that my sweet baby was getting bigger and stronger in each picture.
6. We found out the sex of this baby, which was very crucial to helping me bond with this little one.
It may be the opposite for some people but for me, I want to know everything about this baby. I don’t want to miss one second of seeing him on the screen during an ultrasound. I had enough surprises with everything that happened during my last pregnancy and I do not want ANY “surprises” this time around. I needed to visualize and mentally prepare myself to hold a baby boy or a baby girl. My heart needed time as well to accept and process whichever sex this baby would be.
7. I made the conscious effort to take time and shop for this little one!
It’s another simple thing that takes a lot of effort and overcoming a lot of fears in a pregnancy after loss. I don’t want to have to return things again or pack away the things we never got to use in a box. This baby deserves some things of his own. He deserves some sweet little outfits. As scary as it was to shop in the baby section again, it did bring me some excitement to think of my new little miracle wearing the things that I picked out just for him!
8. I talked, read, and sang to my baby.
This may seem silly and obvious but this has been a big piece in helping me connect with him. I know it’s pretty much a “duh!” but some days it was just much easier to pretend this all wasn’t real and try to avoid the fear for a while. Making myself have a conversation with this baby not only helped me feel closer to him but helps him to know me. I want to know everything about him and I want him to know all about me. I want him to know my laugh, to know my horrible singing voice and to know just how much I love him.
9. I shared everything with my husband.
Helping him to connect with our little baby has helped me connect even more. I get to feel every time baby moves and feel his hiccups but my husband does not. So, I needed to make the effort to grab his hands and help him to feel this baby; to encourage him to talk to my belly. Talking about our baby and sharing hopes/dreams/plans for him has helped us both to bond with our baby.
10. We worked on finding a name for our baby.
Ok, we suck at this and are having a really hard time coming up with a name. However, we are trying and having that conversation (almost daily) and thinking about what we could name him has helped us feel like we know him even more. We know what names don’t feel right for him. We think of the personality he has already shown us, we think of all the ultrasound pictures we have, we think of his relationship he’ll have with both our twins; the one in our arms and the one in our hearts.
These may not be sure-fire ways for everyone to bond and connect with their pregnancy and baby after a loss but these have been the 10 most important ways that I have found in these past 36 weeks that I could form that bond that has taken more effort than I had hoped.