This post definitely doesn’t have anything to do with photography (and has to with pregnancy after loss), but it’s been weighing on my mind a lot lately as I enter the third trimester of this pregnancy.
First, I want to start off by saying I have been pregnant for FOURTEEN months at this point. I have had three consecutive pregnancies since last February and it has been a whirlwind of emotions through every step of the way.
My husband and I were given the okay to start trying again after my 2 week check up with my OBGYN and we didn’t hesitate. We felt empty and desperately wanted to try to fill that void. Some people would probably agree that we started trying too soon and that might be true, but it’s what felt right for us – so we did it! By mid-August, we were pregnant again. But by week 6, cramping and bleeding started and I lost another baby. I was told by my doctor before hand that it was extremely unlikely for me to experience another loss DIRECTLY after my first loss. Especially considering Chloe likely passed away from Trisomy 18 (a nearly always fatal chromosome issue), which occurred randomly and not due to genetics.
The fear started setting in. Would we always have this problem? Would there ever be a “safe zone” for pregnancy. The answer is hard to swallow, but it’s simply “no.” There just isn’t. By my next cycle I was pregnant again, except this time it was a lot harder to be excited. I didn’t tell anyone except my husband. We didn’t tell our kids, we didn’t tell our parents. We simply kept it to ourselves, because it was just to hard to have to tell people about a loss if it happened again.
I had 3 blood draws and 3 ultrasounds by 12 weeks. My levels were rising, and my ultrasounds looked fantastic. She was growing RIGHT on the spot for my EDD. At this point, we felt comfortable telling people we were pregnant. After all, I’d be starting to show soon enough and it was getting to the point where it’d be hard to hide.
Although the likelihood of loss after the first trimester drops significantly around the 12 week mark, we knew we weren’t “safe.” I bought a fetal doppler I could use at home so I could use it when I felt anxiety or stress about her passing. I tried to be sparing with it, but in the earlier weeks I used it nearly daily simply to help ease the anxiety that was constantly worried about her dying.
I had a hard time connecting to this pregnancy. I didn’t want to feel excitement or love and have it ripped away from me again. I wasn’t taking many photos of my growing bump. I wouldn’t buy clothes or accessories for her. I wouldn’t do anything set in stone for her, because I was worried that it would jinx my pregnancy (so illogical, I know!).
I got to 19 weeks and it felt like such an accomplishment. That’s when I lost Chloe and I felt like maybe if I made it past 19 weeks, I wouldn’t be so worried about losing her anymore. And that held true for a couple weeks. I felt like I could buy stuff for her, give her a name, even schedule some newborn photos for her – but the anxiety and panic came back. I had VIVID nightmares of losing her. I woke up screaming and crying because the dreams felt so real.
Most recently, I felt a major decrease in movement from her. This lasted 2 days and on the second day, I called my midwife. In all honestly, I felt that my concerns were dismissed by comments like “if she’s moving at all, I am not concerned.. and you shouldn’t be either.” But my 19 week loss was similar, in that I didn’t feel Chloe move for 2 days and she ended up being dead. Ultimately, she set up a NST for that day and I went in to be monitored. OF COURSE, she started moving like crazy when I got there and everything ended up being okay. But the tech didn’t make me feel stupid. I am sure she sees anxiety ridden moms ALL the time, but she approached it with empathy. She told me “if you EVER feel concerned, just come in. There is no way for us to know unless we monitor you and do these tests and it’s ALWAYS better to be safe.” It honestly was the first time this whole pregnancy where I felt like someone in a clinical setting maybe understood where I was coming from and why I would be so worried.
Overall, pregnancy after loss is hard. I feel obligated to be happy, because “I should be blessed that this one is alive.” I feel silly or stupid for being concerned that this one might die, too. I feel exhausted from waking up constantly during the night in panic that she’s died. I am sick of being sick. I feel disconnected from society, because I have just genuinely wanted to stay isolated from fear of letting people see that sometimes I am just not okay. But all of this has recently made me realize that there are SO many women who also feel this way. There are SO many women who have been pregnant for over a year, due to consecutive losses. There are woman who’ve been told that they “should just be happy this one is alive!” It really made me want to bring this topic up and talk about what we can do to help these women feel validated and secure.
Don’t tell women who are pregnant after a loss that they shouldn’t be worried.
Don’t tell women who are pregnant after loss that they should just be happy this one is alive.
Don’t tell women who are pregnant after loss that they should be grateful for pregnancy symptoms, because it means they’re pregnant.
Let them be tired of being pregnant. Let them vent, without making them feel guilty for “taking this pregnancy for granted.”
Let them talk out their worries about their pregnancy without dismissing them and making them feel stupid.
Let them mourn their loss, but still express their discomfort and exhaustion for their current pregnancy.
And overall, let them talk about their loss without making them feel like you’re disinterested or sick of hearing about it. We just want to be heard. We want to be able to talk about our babies – we love them and miss them!
If you think you are depressed and don’t know where to turn, reach out to the Crisis Text Hotline!
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