Pregnancy After Loss, The Truth

Today would have marked the due date of the baby we lost last November. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough day. Even though I’m pregnant again with our beautiful, healthy rainbow baby, our first little one still occupies a huge piece of my heart. Going through that miscarriage was honestly one of the darkest periods of my life. It’s a deep scar that I know will never fade. They say that the DNA of babies becomes lodged in the mother’s brain for the rest of her life. So I know this feeling of love and connection will never leave me.

Pregnancy after loss is both the hardest and best thing. When I fell pregnant again two months after my miscarriage, I felt such a confusing mix of feelings. First and foremost, I was so relieved and grateful. But the previous loss had snatched away my innocence and I was cautious of celebrating. I was full of fear that something awful was going to happen again so I tried to keep my excitement and happiness in check. In honour of the due date of that first babe, I wanted to talk about what it’s really like to be pregnant after a miscarriage, particularly in that agonising first trimester.

The truth about pregnancy after loss: 6 things that change

1. I dreaded medical appointments

When I was pregnant the first time, I couldn’t wait to get down to the doctor’s office to confirm the pregnancy and start running tests. I felt positively giddy with excitement at the prospect of getting my hormone levels tested and having the first ultrasound. I was in a state of blissful naïveté. But it turned out that the most devastating news was delivered at those very medical appointments. Our baby was not growing and was never going to be.

Fast forward to this pregnancy and I had a deep-seated fear of any kind of pregnancy-related appointment or test. I’d had such negative experiences last time that I associated these checkups with trauma. I didn’t want to go to them. It was hard not to expect the very worst because that was the only experience I’d had. I delayed seeing the doctor for almost two weeks after I tested positive. I then avoided a dating ultrasound until I was 8 weeks – the point where a heartbeat should definitely be found.

Every new test brought with it a new level of anxiety. These tests are designed to look for problems and I felt like just as I’d passed one, a new one loomed ahead. At no point in the first trimester did I ever feel at ease during any medical appointment.

2. I became fearful of joy

Having so recently gone through a miscarriage, I knew that just because I was pregnant again didn’t necessarily mean that there would be a baby nine months later. While, yes, I was very relieved to be pregnant again, I didn’t want to assume that this pregnancy would last. What if I lost this baby too?

For the entire first trimester, I was afraid of feeling happy. I kept all those excited, positive feelings on a tight rein in case the worst happened again. If I didn’t let myself get too happy or become too ‘into’ the pregnancy, I’d cope better if something were to happen, right? I was trying to protect my heart (not that you ever can).

3. I limited my pregnancy app usage

The last time I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to open my pregnancy apps each day, eager for updates on the baby’s growth and development. I found the fruit comparisons fascinating and I delighted in imagining my baby as the size of a lentil, a blueberry, a raspberry. But we sadly learned that our baby had, in fact, not been growing as the apps had said. Here I was thinking that it was as big as a cherry at 9 weeks when in fact it was only the size of a tiny 6-week-old sweet pea.

So this second time around, I took these updates with a grain of salt. I didn’t assume any of them were true. I hesitatingly opened the apps maybe once a week rather than multiple times a day, wary of them. How could I take any of it as gospel anymore, at least until our ultrasounds confirmed that the baby was growing on track?

4. I found it hard to bond with the baby

Even as the baby grew stronger and bigger with each passing week and it seemed very unlikely something would go wrong, I was still finding it hard to bond with the little life inside me. I just felt disconnected from the whole experience. I noticed this the most when we had a pregnancy scare with some bleeding at 10 weeks and I went in for an ultrasound. Sitting there in the waiting room, I felt numb and strangely calm. Feeling disconnected was a protective measure against heartache, I knew. Thankfully, everything turned out to be completely fine.

After this happened, I became quite upset with myself. I didn’t want to feel this way. Shouldn’t I want to be all in? I wanted to start believing that this baby was staying put. I wanted to bond with this little babe, to send him or her all the love and positive energy I could find. So, to help me get there, Ben and I decided to find out the baby’s gender. As soon as I knew what we were having, everything shifted. I could suddenly imagine our future family and I began to dream about our lives together.

5. Hello superstition

I’m not a superstitious person in the slightest. I don’t freak out about walking under ladders, seeing black cats or carry a rabbit’s foot around. But pregnancy after loss changed something in me. I know it defies logic and you can’t actually ‘jinx’ a pregnancy but I found myself unwittingly becoming a bit superstitious about things.

Basically, I was wary of repeating any decisions I’d made in the last pregnancy in case it paved the way for the same outcome. Last time I accepted some baby clothes as a present from my mother-in-law a few weeks in. No gifts this time. Last time, I walked a certain route to the ultrasound clinic. We went a different way this time. Last time I started a journal as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test. This time I was scared to get any of my feelings down in ink. Of course none of this would have influenced the pregnancy at all but I guess it was a way for me to feel like I had some control over an event that I really had no control over.

6. I felt like each day was a new miracle

Affirmations like ‘I’m pregnant today and that’s all that matters right now’ helped keep me from thinking too far ahead which was terrifyingly overwhelming. The only way I could cope was to just take it one day at a time. I was so utterly grateful for each new day that I was pregnant and I took nothing for granted. I knew how easily it could all go wrong so each day that it didn’t was a miraculous gift.

Even though the miscarriage stole my innocence, if I didn’t lose that first baby I’m not sure I’d feel such a profound sense of gratitude and awe in pregnancy. Yes, so much can go wrong but more often than not, so much goes right. As I sit here typing this, I can feel this strong, rainbow baby flexing its muscles inside my belly, stretching and nudging me. It’s the best feeling in the whole world. And when I’m lying in bed at night and the baby starts doing somersaults, I never wish for a second that it would stop so I could sleep. I lay there, hand on my belly, smiling in the dark, happy to stay up all night just to feel it. But as I inevitably drift off to sleep, I do so feeling like I’m the luckiest person in the whole world. This baby is already loved more fiercely than I ever thought possible. And maybe I have my miscarriage to partly thank for that.

Interested in reading more about my pregnancy journey? Browse the Pregnancy category or start with these posts:

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The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, Things That Change

Have you experienced pregnancy after loss? Does any of this resonate with you?