As I looked at those two little pink lines appear on the pregnancy test, those lines I so desperately wanted to see, I should have felt excitement. But instead, I was gripped with terror. Pregnancy for me had recently proven to be fragile, slipping away in a flood of tears and anguish. The instant I saw those lines, I was connected to the life growing inside of me. And petrified that it too would be lost.
I had a miscarriage only two months prior to becoming pregnant again. Losing that baby was devastating. Although I knew the statistics, that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, I still never thought it would happen to me. It was a planned pregnancy. I was doing all the right things. Eating well, exercising, taking my vitamins and sleeping well. But it doesn’t matter how well a woman takes care of herself. Miscarriage sometimes happens and it is through no fault of our own.
The decision to try again for a baby was not about filling the gap that the loss of the last pregnancy had left. I knew in my heart that I would always mourn this life. But I felt ready to try again, I had to believe that it wouldn’t happen twice. I had the all clear from the doctor. Although I had some health issues, endometrial cysts on my left ovary, the doctor was not overly concerned with me becoming pregnant again, as I had already given birth to a healthy baby boy who was now almost two.
But despite having the all clear from my doctor and genuinely wanting to have another baby, the terror of being pregnant again once it happened was all consuming. How would I cope if I had another miscarriage? What if I did lose the baby and there was something wrong with me and I couldn’t have more children? How would my husband take it, would our relationship be okay? How could I ever think about trying again for a third time? These thoughts plagued me. In a time that is meant to be wonderful, and the mother should be calm and relaxed, I was a wreck.
I couldn’t sleep properly. I had dreams where I woke up covered in blood. I kept running to the bathroom, expecting to see blood. Any ache or pain I felt with my uterus expanding I thought, this is it, I am losing the baby. I constantly googled miscarriage symptoms. These dark thoughts were just plaguing me, I could not escape the constant anxiety that I would have another miscarriage.
Then the worst happened. I was about five weeks along when I went to the bathroom and saw blood. I instantly lost all the colour from my face. I could not stand upright. My worst fears were happening. But I also had this moment of complete clarity where I thought, this is what I thought would happen. I am not surprised.
I took myself to the hospital. Back to emergency where I was told only a few months prior that I had had a miscarriage. It was like a terrible dejavu. But when I went for an early pregnancy scan, the ultrasound technician told me that he could see a pregnancy sack. I burst into tears because the relief was just overwhelming. After blood tests, I was told that I was still pregnant and the blood I saw was likely caused by my cyst shedding. But my pregnancy was still in the very early stages, so I should not get my hopes up and I had to take care of myself.
Over the next few weeks I had more blood tests because of my constant cramps and backache. They all came back that my hormone levels were rising. I also had another early pregnancy scan, where we could now see a baby with a strong heartbeat.
Despite these indications that my pregnancy was progressing nicely, I could not let go of my lingering fears. Every day I was just waiting to reach that magical three month mark, where the likelihood of a miscarriage dramatically decreased. But every day I was also waiting for the worst. It was the longest few months of my life.
It wasn’t until I was ten weeks along when I started to calm down and accept that the worst may not happen. I finally felt the first glimmers of excitement. This is partly because I started to get a belly, so I could physically see my body was changing. Then the nausea, food aversion and cravings kicked in and I was constantly exhausted. These symptoms were now a reminder that my pregnancy was progressing. Each time I was sick, it was the baby reminding me that she/he was still around.
I felt even better once I got the blood test to find any chromosomal issues and found out the sex. It was actually happening. I was going to have another baby. My scan at thirteen weeks, a wellbeing scan because of the anxiety I was feeling, was my first chance to really connect with my baby and see him for what he was. A healthy and well progressing baby boy that I would welcome in six months time.
Women are warriors. The strength that women call upon when struggling to conceive, experience a miscarriage or go through a loss or birth trauma is unbelievable. I can never adequately explain what it is like to live months of your life fearing a miscarriage. To go about life with a smile on your face, doing your regular routine of working, playing with your toddler and running errands, and all the time internally obsessing about every little movement and pain you feel in your body. It puts a huge stress and a strain on your mental health. And so many women go through this each and every day.
One of the worst parts is that women often suffer these emotions alone. By waiting until three months to speak openly about pregnancy, you are also depriving yourself of a support network to talk about these fears and doubts.
While I completely understand some women’s need for privacy at this time, I would like to challenge the custom of waiting twelve weeks to tell those closest to you about a pregnancy. I shared the news with the people around me that I knew would be supportive if I lost the baby. I needed the help. Emotionally and also practically, when I had to attend doctors appointments, ultrasounds and also just sleep! Without this support network I would not have been able to get through this time.
I am now happy to report that I feel more confident in my pregnancy. Most of the doubts and fears have dissipated. That is not to say that I am completely without some fears. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t sometimes hold my breath when I go to the bathroom, thinking I may be bleeding. But I can’t live the next six months with these dark thoughts hanging over my head. I am moving forward, accepting pregnancy after a miscarriage is difficult, and concentrating on taking care of myself and supporting other women around me who may be struggling.
If you have experienced a miscarriage and need support, you can reach out to Sands by calling 1300 072 637. Please do not suffer alone.
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P.S. If you have enjoyed reading this, you may like to read thttp://psitsamumthing.com/a-letter-to-my-darling-first-born-i-miss-you-already/