Pregnancy has always fascinated me. I love baby bumps, I think they’re beautiful. I am amazed and in awe at how the female body can create, grow and develop a fully formed human-being from the tiniest of cells.
Over the years I have watched my friends through their pregnancies and felt broody – not so much for the baby at the time, but for the pregnancy. I was broody to know what it felt like to have a little human growing, wiggling and kicking inside you. I was excited to experience it for myself when the time came for us to start a family.
Sadly, we suffered a missed miscarriage with our first pregnancy in March 2015 and on 13th November 2015, our second baby, Guy, was stillborn at 25 weeks. These losses have taken away the excitement of pregnancy, this broodiness I had for a baby bump. Pregnancy following a loss is far from exciting. It’s stressful and full of anxiety.
Getting back on the horse
Five months after losing Guy, we decided to start trying again for our rainbow baby. This decision wasn’t easy. After our first miscarriage, we just wanted to get straight back on the horse and try again, but not so much this time.
Emotionally we felt weaker, more anxious. Starting a family was no longer such an exciting thought. After 18 months of trying to start our family and two pregnancy losses, we are much more aware that getting pregnant doesn’t guarantee that we are coming home with a baby.
On 12th July 2016 (one day before Guy’s 8-month anniversary) we found out we are expecting our rainbow. I think we may have cracked a little smile discovering a positive pregnancy test, but it by no means matches the smiles and giggles we had the very first time we got pregnant.
The following day I got in touch with my Tommy’s midwife who I have kept in touch with regularly since November. She has got our first appointment set up for 5th August and our ante-natal plan from the consultant has kicked in – daily aspirin, ante-natal vitamins and blood pressure tablets (which I have been on since my post-natal review in February).
To most people, this might all seem very positive and reassuring, although somehow, for me, it isn’t.
The only way I can explain why this isn’t reassuring to me is because I feel numb. Numb to the knowledge of being pregnant. Like my brain isn’t accepting that I’m pregnant and my body doesn’t feel pregnant. With my previous two pregnancies it was very much at the forefront of my mind, every second of the day I was aware that I was pregnant, I was thinking about being pregnant, I was trying my best not to blurt out to the world that I was pregnant. But not this time. It’s not even a second thought. It’s like my mind has blocked it out, doesn’t want to let it in, doesn’t want to know. I keep forgetting that I am pregnant.
Yes, I know it’s still early days. I am only around 6 weeks, there’s time for the symptoms to kick in yet. I would welcome any symptoms right now. I think it would help me believe this is really happening.
When I do allow myself to briefly acknowledge the pregnancy, my head is spinning with thoughts and questions:
Why don’t I have any symptoms yet? Is it too early for symptoms? Is this normal? When did the symptoms start last time? Is this baby going to survive? Will I bond with the baby during pregnancy? Will I bond with the baby if it makes it earth side? Are these thoughts going to lead to depression during my pregnancy or post-natal depression? Etc etc. I am constantly checking for spotting each time I go to the loo, constantly paranoid about any little twinges or aches in my belly, constantly anxious that lightening could strike us a third time. It’s exhausting.
One day at a time
There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want to think too far ahead. I can’t imagine us coming home with a baby anymore. Those images I had of us walking out of the hospital with a baby in a car seat, coming home for the first time, the mosses basket next to the bed, arguing over who’s turn it is to get up in the night, they seem to be faded, blocked out. All I can do it take it one day at a time and hope that I’m still pregnant at the end of it.
In between those days, I have my appointments to concentrate on. That first scan is going to be terrifying, hoping for a heartbeat so we know things are ok (for now). Any subsequent scans, hoping for a heartbeat, but also hoping baby has grown, doesn’t have any health complications, hoping my blood pressure is ok.
I don’t think I will truly be able to relax and begin to let those family life images come back into focus until I get to 23 weeks with things looking ok (because that’s where it all went downhill with Guy). That’s such a long way off.
All I can think is that this is a coping mechanism. What is the saying, prepare for the worst, hope for the best? If I don’t allow myself to get excited or overthink too far ahead, I won’t be so disappointed or surprised if this pregnancy fails too. Of course I will be devastated. I don’t think I can handle going through it all a third time. I don’t think I will have the strength to carry on trying for a fourth time.
I have read all the #misCOURAGE stories on the Tommy’s website. I know there are so many strong women who have had far more losses than us and have gone on to have healthy babies. I just don’t know if I could keep doing it to myself, to us. Although we refuse to be beaten. I’m sure we would find the strength. We’ve got through the last 12 months. I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.
Removing the rose tinted glasses
I am very aware that to anyone who hasn’t suffered a pregnancy loss, these thoughts might come across quite negative. People will think I should be grateful that I can get pregnant, stop worrying so much, enjoy the pregnancy. I just wish I was that easy.
Miscarriage and still birth strips you of the joy and excitement of pregnancy. I am yet to have a pregnancy that doesn’t end with us walking out of the maternity unit empty handed or with a memory box. The rose tinted glasses have been lifted and my awareness to the fact that something can go wrong at any point during those 9 months is heightened.
I don’t think these thoughts are negative I think I am just less naïve to the notion that pregnancy = living baby.
I don’t want to be negative, I do want to enjoy my pregnancy. So this is my mantra for (hopefully) the next 9 months: