So you are pregnant! Exciting, isn't it? But... yes, there's a "but" in there. You have also recently experienced a miscarriage and the heart-wrenching sobbing after an appointment where someone in an official uniform told you "I'm so sorry. We couldn't find a heartbeat."
You should feel lucky to be pregnant again so soon. Shouldn't you? But your heart was so recently ripped in two and all you can bring yourself to feel is anxious and worried. There's just no room for happy here. Well, maybe for the slightest little sliver of happy, but it's just not the same... Here are some things that can be hard about being pregnant after a miscarriage.
1. You are wise to the fact that pregnancy does not necessarily = baby. You become pregnant for the first time and what happens? Well, you immediately have a mental picture of that child all the way from birth through to college. Never once do you imagine that miscarriage can happen to you. So you plan and dream and begin to love that wee little baby in your belly and then..."There is no heartbeat" and your world comes crashing down around you. All the plans that you had, all of the dreams that you dreamed are gone. In an instant. And you realize then that being pregnant doesn't always promise you your baby.
So when you become pregnant again, do you dare to hope and dream once more? It just hurt so much last time to lose those dreams. Well you do hope and dream a little. But much more tentatively. You can never let loose with the joy of abandon like the last time. That kind of joy during pregnancy is sadly gone for you.
All the plans that you had, all of the dreams that you dreamed are gone. In an instant. And you realize then that being pregnant doesn't always promise you your baby.
2. Most people don't know about your miscarriage(s). So unfortunately, we seem to treat miscarriage like a dirty little secret. Everyone tells you not to share your pregnancy news until after three months so that you don't have to "untell" anyone if something goes wrong. Well, I fell into this trap too. I kept these little babies a secret from all but a few people. It's hard because then no one understands why you are a little tentative during your new pregnancy. Nobody understands why you get sad sometimes without warning or why you don't talk that much about the baby you are pregnant with in future terms.
3. You are far too attuned to your body's twinges. Every little pain, every little twinge — your first thought is always that you're losing the baby. No matter how much your doctor reassures you, no matter how many prenatal nurses tell you that it's a normal feeling, you worry. And heaven forbid that you spot at all during the nine months. It doesn't necessarily mean miscarriage, but it sure as heck feels like it.
4. You feel guilty. Even though there is no reason to feel this way, you still wonder: Is there something that I did wrong last time? Is there something I can do differently this time? You even feel guilty for not being as happy as you should be. Some people have such a hard time even getting pregnant at all and you know that you are blessed to have gotten pregnant so easily again. You know in your head that you are lucky to have conceived but your heart is too scared to feel happy just yet. So there are a lot of conflicting feelings when you are pregnant after a miscarriage.
5. You can only truly breathe properly after an ultrasound. Seeing is believing. When I saw that my baby was OK then I could trust that they were OK... for a bit anyways. The nerves leading up to each scan were so heavy. When you've heard "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat" before, then it's hard to allow yourself to believe that this time will have a happy ending.
6. Even when the baby is born, you don't believe they are truly here and OK until they are placed in your arms. So after my daughter was born, there was silence. No crying... just nothing. I was sure that something had gone horribly wrong because in all the TV shows they cry immediately, right? I think if I had never experienced loss I might not have become so panicked. But I had, so I did. Thank goodness she was OK and when they put her in my arms I was able to see that she was alive, beautifully healthy and perfect.
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So it can be hard to be pregnant when you can't allow yourself to feel the unbridled joy you felt the first time. That certainty that everything will be OK and that you can make plans for the future is not part of this new pregnancy. Please know that if you've felt this way, that you are not alone. There are others who share that pain, myself included. But thankfully, as soon as my daughter was placed in my arms, I got to experience all those feelings that I had missed out on during the pregnancy. The happiness, the joy, and the plans for the future, from newborn to college. Those feelings I had been denied this time around came rushing in all at once when I saw her face and I realized then and there that a rainbow is a beautiful thing. Such an amazing, beautiful thing.
Signed, mother of three angel babies and two rainbow girls.
Oct. 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Let's not be afraid any longer to tell our stories. I am one in four.
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