How to get through pregnancy after a miscarriage
I recently caught up with an old friend who has also had trouble conceiving, hoping to offer some support and maybe even some advice. However, I was slightly taken aback when she asked me the golden question ‘how did you cope with being pregnant after your miscarriage?’ On the drive home I realised this wasn’t the first time I had been asked this question – it seems to be a common fear which is triggering overwhelming anxiety and even preventing women from being excited when they finally conceive their little miracle. I hope this blog will help those in a similar situation to ‘cope’ and maybe even allow a slither of excitement for the amazing adventure which lies ahead.
When Scott and I miscarried, we had nothing to feel positive about and nothing to look forward to (grim, I know). I certainly never saw myself sitting here at 28 weeks pregnant – the possibility of carrying a baby full-term seemed unattainable at that time. So when we found out we were pregnant again, it was almost impossible to feel excited. I remember telling my Mum we were very early pregnant and realising it was not the celebration it was the first time (or that I expected it to be) – we were both submerged with caution and worry. All the ‘what ifs’ which we could never answer were containing the joy we should have been feeling.
The first few weeks after finding out we were pregnant were the longest of my life – I truly believe the clock was going backwards! Getting through each day was a blessing, I would go to bed and secretly high five myself for making it through another day. It was tearing me apart that I couldn’t confidently celebrate what was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives. I remember one day trying to psych myself for our first ultrasound and saying to Scott ‘if we hear a heartbeat’, to which he replied ‘no, when we hear a heartbeat’ – in my eyes there was so much doubt. I also remember being too afraid to buy adorable little baby outfits ‘just in case’. My friend made the interesting point that this constant fear is a way of protecting ourselves against the worst – like if we don’t get our hopes up and if we are realistic, it won’t hurt so bad if something goes wrong.
While this isn’t ideal by any means and is exhausting, it seems to be the norm. So if you are dealing with these insecurities, please be assured you are not alone – in fact, you are in good company. I guess I would be more concerned if you weren’t feeling apprehensive. So how do we push through these internal struggles and begin to enjoy pregnancy? And the magic question – how did I get through? Firstly, let me say that I didn’t manage the fear as such (it was always there), but I coped and fought and thankfully came out the other end smiling! But here are a few tips which worked for me…
Our first relief was hearing our baby’s heartbeat, especially considering we never did in our first pregnancy. If you haven’t already been offered, ask for an early pregnancy scan – this is your right, especially if you have miscarried previously. Research shows that the risk of miscarriage is largely reduced once a heartbeat is seen, and the risk continues to decrease as the pregnancy progresses. Which of course means the other alleviating factor is time. So instead of constantly staring at the clock (which IS going backwards!), get busy! Whatever it is you enjoy, do it and do it constantly! Your friends may start questioning why you suddenly want to catch up for coffee at 8pm and your Mum may wonder why you keep just popping over, but it is worth being hectic. Take each day as it comes, and celebrate each week as if Ryan Gosling was your baby daddy. And despite what everyone says, this is the best time to read into every symptom – this is coming from a nurse who would otherwise lose her shit if you told her you googled the non-existent rash on your little toe. But if you are waking up and running to the toilet to vom – be excited about it! If the water pressure in the shower is stinging your ever so sensitive nipples – give a fist pump! These are all good signs that your hormones are rising and the pregnancy is progressing as it should.
Finally, as I always say…talk to people! I honestly believe that Scott’s positive outlook is what not only kept me going each day, but also what kept our little miracle fighting inside. Think about it this way – if you are constantly questioning and doubting, what chance does that precious little bean have in there? It is possible to be both realistic and positive. I know it doesn’t help when people tell you it will be ok, trust me! And I can’t even sit here and tell you that it will be ok, because it may not. But I do know it is better for your mental health (and for your baby) if you at least try to believe it. While I don’t advise rushing out and buying a cot, I do suggest small steps – begin looking at nursery ideas and try to picture yourself with a little bump. Yes, it might feel scary; but it won’t jinx your chances, and it will even allow that slither of excitement to push its way in and put a smile on your face – which is best for everyone!
So does it get easier? I can confidently say yes! Hitting the 12 week mark was the biggest sigh of relief for us in terms of easing the initial anxiety. Then there was a period of time where the morning sickness wore off and I had nothing to reassure me that we were on the right track, but at this point the clock had actually started moving forward, and we were at 20 weeks before I knew it. And by then, you will start to feel little flutters and even kicks which are your daily reminder that your little miracle is growing strong. Obviously we have had a few hiccups along the way and continue to have unanswered questions which have caused anxiety, but overall I have absolutely loved being pregnant and can happily say that I know our little man is going to be ok. And one day (as much as you can’t see it right now) you will also be in your final trimester sitting in your baby’s nursery wondering where the time went, totally amazed that you made it this far.
Please share this blog if you think it will help someone you know – it is a great way to show your support, and may be exactly what they need ♥