Friday, November 22, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: The Paradox

Pregnancy after loss. It's the one thing you truly want but are truly terrified of getting. Before it happens, you lie awake at night hoping, praying, wondering when your little miracle will begin. When it happens, you lie awake at night hoping and praying that it won't end in another loss and wondering how you will possibly cope if it does.


The two lines on the home pregnancy test are only small, but they are enough to induce the strangest fixture of fear and excitement you have ever experienced. Will this be the baby you get to bring home? Please God, let this be the one you can bring home.

You feel like going out in public is going out in a minefield. Will you see someone who doesn't know this is a subsequent pregnancy? Someone who tells you "not to worry, it won't happen again"? Or maybe, just maybe, you'll bump into someone who gives you a hug and acknowledges it's both a wonderful and scary time. You don't know what to expect, and the unknown is hard.

You get excited about wearing maternity clothes again. But when the time comes, you can't bring yourself to wear the same ones as last time; the memories are too strong. It feels ridiculous to go buy new ones, after all, the old ones were only worn for a few months. But the need to have different ones cannot be ignored. It doesn't make sense, but then again, nothing on this journey does.

Ultrasounds are nerve-wracking. It's not enough to feel the baby kick during the scan, you need to see the heartbeat before your own pounding heartbeat will settle down. Instead of simply enjoying seeing your little baby on the screen, you spend most of the time hoping and praying that each measurement is what it should be and that every aspect of your little miracle is what it should be.

Seeing another pregnant woman is also on the list of things that are hard. They all look so carefree. Do they know how lucky they are? What a truly amazing thing it is to have a living baby, whether born or unborn? You feel jealous of their joyful naivety, but at the same time cannot help but wonder if they too are the 1 in 4 whose innocence about pregnancy has been harshly ripped away.

Feeling your baby kick and move around brings a sense of peace. But some days they move so much that it's slightly annoying, painful even. But you dare not admit that to anyone, because you know how blessed you are to even be feeling those movements in the first place. The same is true for general pregnancy aches and pains. The pain that you feel as your muscles and ligaments stretch is legitimate and yet, you know you should be grateful for that pain. It means you have gotten further in your pregnancy than many women ever do. The bigger the baby, the more chance they have of surviving...right?

The knowledge that this pregnancy is a gift, a wonderful miracle, is always with you. But at the same time, you're tired of being pregnant. It takes most people nine months of pregnancy to bring home a baby. You'll be doing eighteen months, if indeed you get to bring this baby home. Pregnancy isn't a walk in the park, it's tough on your body and you don't have the baby to show for last time's effort and strain. Your body is weary, but the simple act of acknowledging that brings waves of guilt. Don't you know how lucky you are? How many women would give anything to be in the position you're in?

You don't quite know what to do with the whole "nesting" instinct. After all, the baby clothes are still freshly washed from last time, the cot is still set up, the nursery is already ready. It feels silly to buy new things, it's not like the items you have now got any use. How do you balance wise spending with the need to have things different from last time? It's just one more question on the list of unanswerable questions.

Speaking of unanswerable questions:
How can you tell me everything will be alright? You don't know that.
Why did this happen to me? Why am I the one facing this paradox?
Will I ever be comfortable again - comfortable meeting new people, comfortable around little Ariella-aged girls, comfortable during a subsequent pregnancy?
Why do people expect this pregnancy and this baby to fix me? Don't they realise I don't need to be fixed, I need to be allowed to grieve?

And finally, why is it so hard to admit all of this? Why does it feel like admitting all of this somehow means I am not trusting God? That I'm not grateful for this little baby? Because I do trust Him. I am grateful for this little baby. But pregnancy after loss is one of the greatest paradoxes in life.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.

____________________

If you have been pregnant after a loss, did you find it to be a great paradox? If you are yet to conceive your rainbow, do you already feel this way?

36 comments:

Syreeta Jayne said...

I am 11 wks pregnant with (hopefully) our rainbow baby after losing our firstborn son earlier this year. I find it to be a great paradox, it's difficult and feels like no matter what I'm thinking of feeling, I feel guilty for thinking or feeling it. I have a friend who also lost a baby (her 2nd child) and just found out she lost the 3rd to miscarriage at 9 wks. I feel so guilty, I haven't even told her that I'm pregnant. I feel it might hurt her, and I feel guilty that I am continuing on in pregnancy while she doesn't get to. Is there ever any balance to these emotions?

Sarah Breems said...

Thank you for your post, Larissa. Our daughter was stillborn on October 10 of this year. We are not ready to try to conceive again yet (the doctor advised us to wait a few months), but I have already had many of the thoughts you shared. I anxiously want to be pregnant because it means (hopefully) that we will have a little one, yet I am terrified of the 9 months it will take-- I was pregnant for 41 blissful (mostly) weeks with our daughter and we still didn't get to bring her home. I am hopeful, but I now know there are no guarantees in life. Thank you for sharing.

woodra01 said...

Beautifully written. Well done. I don't know what words could possibly help during such an exciting and frightening time. I remember ours baby's birth was equally confusing with so many complex emotions. I'm sending you love, hugs, hope, and strength. Hang in there.

EssG said...

Just wanting to send you my love...Keep your eye's on God and know that others understand. I will pray for you for His perfect peace

Juna said...

Thank you for this! It is so right on! All of your thoughts and questions mirror so many of my own. I got rid of my old maternity clothes. I honestly never thought I would wear them again.

I am 8 weeks pregnant now after I lost my son @ 38 weeks last year. I cried when I heard the little heart beat on sonogram. When I looked into myself, I knew it's because I wished I could hear my son's heart beat one more time.

A big hug to all you mommies who know exactly how it feels to come home without your sweet one.

Larissa said...

I've found that they have balanced out more as my pregnancy has gotten further along. The conflicting emotions are still there, but each day closer to the end does make me slightly less afraid... Also, I've learnt to give myself permission to feel however I feel. Whether that is feeling tired of being pregnant, overwhelmingly excited or plain old scared, letting myself feel what I need to feel (instead of being guilty for those thoughts) has gotten easier.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, go gently. You are allowed to feel however you feel <3

Larissa said...

Sarah, I'm so sorry your daughter was stillborn. It's just awful to go through :( I completely relate to your anxious want to be pregnant again, but boy was I scared at the thought of nine more months of pregnancy! I do hope that you will get to bring home a healthy baby at the end of your next pregnancy; the best advice I ever heard was to take things one day (or hour, or minute...) at a time. It's easier to think "I can get through one day" than to think "I can get through nine months."

Larissa said...

Thank you! Sometimes I wish there was an off switch on my emotions! :P

Larissa said...

Thank you so much. There have been times when I have clearly felt His perfect peace, and I'm so grateful for that. No matter how hard it gets, we're never alone...

Larissa said...

I get tears in my eyes each time we hear a heartbeat too. So beautiful and comforting, but also bittersweet, knowing we will never hear Ariella's heartbeat. I also find it somewhat comforting that I'm not the only one who can't wear the same maternity clothes! Nice to know I'm not alone on this crazy journey!
Congratulations on your new little one, I do hope it goes as smoothly as possible and the little heartbeat continues strongly <3

Felicia With An F said...

I just found out today that I'm pregnant with my rainbow baby and I am already scared. My son died at the age of almost 4mths old from an undiagnosed heart condition last year. It was a rare condition that is very highly unlikely to happen again, but I can't help but be worried.

Larissa said...

It is scary, that's for sure. I was absolutely terrified for the first few months; it took a while for my emotions to settle somewhat (although they haven't completely settled, as this post shows!). I am so sorry that your son died, and I pray that the condition doesn't happen again. Is it something they can test for, now they know it's happened once? Also, I want to say congratulations on this new baby; I know this little one won't take away your pain over losing your son, but I do hope you can find some healing. Love to you, you are very brave to be pregnant again. <3

Sharlee said...

This was a wonderful article for me to stumble upon. I had my first daughter 2.5 weeks early with no idea that anything might be wrong with me. She's a handful, but I love her to death. We were then blessed with another pregnancy when she was around 13 months old. I was about 20 weeks along when my water broke. There was nothing they could do, and I delivered my second baby girl the next night. After we were allowed to conceive again, I got pregnant for the third time. I was on pins and needles the entire time. I ended up being on bedrest with a cerclage put in around 18 weeks. I was on some form of bedrest for the duration of my pregnancy. EVERY time I stood up, let alone did normal activities, I worried that I would have my water break. We had a few scares, but I ended up delivering a beautiful boy (VBAC!) at 38 weeks. He's almost 7 months now. I am mixed with dread and excitement about having another baby, and at this point, I'm not sure if I can go through all that stress again. It's a long, hard road after losing a precious baby. Just know you're not alone, and that others are here to help and support you. I hope all continues to go well with this precious little one you carry!

Larissa said...

Thank you for sharing your story Sharlee. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to be on bedrest for so long... my husband thinks I would go crazy if that was the case! :P Congratulations on you baby boy (and the VBAC - go you!). I know a number of women who aren't sure if they will have more than one rainbow baby, as they don't know if they can go through the stress of it. It certainly is emotionally draining, that's for sure!

Angela Groninger said...

I just read this from the link that Still Standing Magazine posted on facebook. I am SO glad to have "found" your blog! When I read the part about being excited to wear maternity clothes again...it struck such a nerve in me because I felt like you took the words right out of my mouth! I have one or two things I REFUSED to wear ever again and it's not like I can afford to replace my maternity wardrobe! I am now 33 weeks pregnant, due in early January with our Rainbow Baby Boy!! We lost our 2nd baby, Isabelle Grace just after 4 days of life AND she was born a month early. She had a congenital heart defect (CHD) called HLHS. So, I can totally relate to this blog and look forward to reading your others!!
Thanks for sharing your story!!
Angie
www.isabellesheart.blogspot.com

Kim said...

Yes...this is it exactly. You have written exactly what I have been feeling this entire pregnancy. I am current 27 weeks pregnant with my rainbow after the loss of my son Seth in March 18, 2012. He was born quiet and still at 39 weeks.

You captured it all...like when I shake and shiver holding my breath during the ultrasound just expecting they will say something is wrong. Hadn't thought of it really but yes it will take 18 months of pregnancy to bring the baby home. The clothes are ready from last time yet I am not ready to hold them and smell them. They remind me of the pain. I don't feel comfortable around pregnant women. I still feel like the outcast with them. I become utterly afraid as they approach the 39th week. I just want them to deliver their baby already while they still can.

And I try to relate all of this thinking to my friends and family and I am usually met with blank looks. And I think the true paradox for me is that I actually have 5 living children. Seth was 6th child. Yet since Seth died inside my womb I no longer trust that my body can actually keep a baby alive long enough to be born alive. I look my doctor in the eyes and ask..."I have made it to the point of viability now how do we keep this baby alive?".

Beautiful blog post. It spoke volumes to me. Best wishes for you and your sweet rainbow. I will be checking back and following your story.


apieceofmyheartinheaven.blogspot.com

Larissa said...

Hi Angie,
We must be due very close to each other! I too have a couple of items that I refuse to wear this time (not even sure why it's those particular items, while others are easy to wear). I bought a few new items from friends, as it was the only way I could afford to replace the other ones. Even having one new pair of pants and one new skirt to wear frequently has helped.
I absolutely love the name Isabelle, and it sounds so nice with Grace for a middle name. I'm so sorry you didn't get more time with your Isabelle. I'll pop over and have a read of your blog soon :)

Larissa said...

Hi Kim, thank you for sharing your story. My Ariella was stillborn at 39 weeks also, and I can relate to your fear for others as they approach that week. It's so true that all it takes is one time for something to go wrong to mean you can't trust your body anymore.

Dory said...

Larissa.... Awesome post....well done for collating all your thoughts. I am glad you have been able to find a greater sense of peace as your pregnancy progresses. Hope this baby comes home with you very much alive and healthy. A couple of your musings resonated with me...about going out in public and feeling so vulnerable. Me precisely and after a while I avoidded it as it and the unknowns you identifed were too overwhelming. Buy some new clothes for this baby, it's not wasteful at all. Some of your comments also applied to me once my rainbow arrived. I am now only really starting to appreciate the extent of my trauma. The sense of peace you have eludes me during pregnancy...but I had 3 consecutivebabies born prematurely and die from complications of prematurity. Luckily that's very rare. You write beautifully and are very kind in your replies. Fingers crossed for you this time.....

Larissa said...

Thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry to hear about your precious babies, but happy to hear you have your rainbow in your arms. I know that doesn't fix everything, but I imagine having a child to snuggle would help ease at least some of the pain. We have bought a few new things, including a few special outfits, but it's hard being in the baby section again!
I truly believe the only reason I have found peace is through my faith in Jesus. The Bible promises that God will give us a "peace that surpasses understanding" and I believe that He has. I still have my moments, but overall, I can feel His peace.

Georgia Ferguson said...

“Pregnancy after loss. It's the one thing you truly want but are truly terrified of getting.” - It might be a paradox, but it's very fulfilling to get back into the weight loss journey after pregnancy. Conceiving might cause weight gain, but I know some mothers who are still thin during and after the pregnancy. Your obgyn surely knows how to maintain your weight while keeping your baby healthy. Good luck on your pregnancy! :)

Georgia Ferguson @ Family Medicine Of SouthBend, P.C

Larissa said...

Hi Georgia, this is actually a post about pregnancy after the loss of a baby, not weight loss. You are right in that people can stay a healthy weight during pregnancy (and indeed, I've not had a problem with that) but that is certainly not the point of this article.

Catherine Luster said...

I currently have a 6 week old baby girl that is the amazing result of a subsequent pregnancy. Every word of this blog describes my pregnancy - especially NEEDING to see the heartbeat. We lost our son at full term, so I wad a neurotic mess the entire pregnancy. It started to affect me - she ended up being born at 37 weeks, and even then I held my breath until I heard her cry. This paradox is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Thank you for sharing this. I wish I had come across it while I was still pregnant!

Larissa said...

I had to smile when I saw your description of being a "neurotic mess" - because that describes me as well!! My daughter died at full term as well, so I can understand being a mess the whole time. I'm so glad to hear that your baby girl arrived safely!

Shawnee Young said...

Hi Larissa! I wanted to say thank you for this post. We lost our first baby at 31 weeks last November, after a very healthy pregnancy. I just found out yesterday that I am pregnant again and I am everything you described. I am ecstatic, terrified, hopeful, cautious, etc. As far as we know there was no medical reason for losing our baby and the doctors assured us that everything should be fine when I get pregnant again. I haven't yet made a doctor's appointment because I am sure that I will miscarry before that so why even bother (obviously, this is sarcasm mixed with real fear). I am scared but I prayed for this baby and with God's will, I will bring this baby home. So, thank you for this post. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way but it sucks that we all feel this way...

Larissa said...

Hi Shawnee, congratulations on your newest little bub. It's just as you said - ecstatic and terrified, hopeful and cautious. I can understand your hesitation in making a doctor's appointment...anything that made my second pregnancy more "real" was scary! I hope you can find comfort in knowing that you aren't alone in feeling such mixed emotions! You are strong mama, you can do this!

Bec said...

I bore a stillborn son, Elliot, two and a half years ago but before that I had 3 other miscarriages in the first and second trimesters. No pregnancy is ever 100% guaranteed but for some people it sure seems that way. I am pregnant with my rainbow baby and the emotions are very complicated. For me it seems that a) I went through a tough time accepting that it wasn't going to be Elliot coming back. I had to learn to love this new little one I carry; b) I still have a hard time believing I really will be bringing her home alive and well; and c) fearing that with a new baby my children will forget about Elliot. I just do my best to bring him up often. Pregnancy after loss is a tough and beautiful time all at once, filled with lots of happy/sad tears.

Jessica Dawn Lain said...

.Thank you so much for writing publicly about your fears and other emotions that come along with this journey. I have had 2 previous miscarriages and am now 8 weeks along. I have no children. I have to lean on the Lord every single day to get me through. Its the only way I know how to survive!! My first doctors appointment is next week and I am SO anxious to hear the heartbeat and drown my new ob/gyn with questions!!! LOL. I just have to stop and remember that God has blessed me yet once again; he's given me another chance... and I know He has a reason. I couldn't go back to my previous dr's office. I can't bear to walk into that building again. I'm hoping I will like my new one. It's gonna be a LONG 40 weeks :)

Larissa said...

Oh Bec, everything you said is just so true. Learning to accept, learning to love... so, so true.

Larissa said...

You're welcome Jessica. Oh how I hope and pray that you will hear the beautiful sound of your baby's heart beating strongly.

Aria said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, it was beautiful and totally sums up my heart right now. My husband and I were blessed with our son about 2 years ago. Last year we started trying for another baby. I got pregnant, but it ended in an early miscarriage. It was hard, but we kept trying. I got pregnant again and we believed we would be adding to our family again. Unfortunately there complications with my pregnancy and our daughter was born prematurely about five months ago. She went to be with Jesus a few minutes after she was born. It's been really rough past few months, but my husband and I agreed we needed to continue on our journey. We just found out that I'm pregnant again and even though it's very early I can already feel the battle within myself to fight the anxiety and questions swirling in my mind.

I'm so sorry for your loss, but so happy that you have a sweet little boy to remind you of hope.

Larissa said...

All the best with this pregnancy Aria. How scary and wonderful it is to be pregnant after loss xx

Megan said...

Sending love, hope, and support. I'm currently 21 weeks pregnant after my son was stillborn at 39 weeks 3.5 yrs ago, and my rainbow is now 2. I can say while many ofvthe same emotions crop up during a second rainbow pregnancy they are a lot easier to manage after you've had one pregnancy that ended in a healthy baby.

Emma Uche Nwauzu said...

Thanks so much for this write up. I lost my beautiful boy Jayden on August 29th 2013 at 40 weeks. I just couldn't believe it happened. I was dazed for some days before i realized what happened and some days i thought i would have gone mad of God was not holding me in His Heart. He was my 2nd baby. My eldest is fine and almost 5 now. I am 17 weeks pregnant and i am terrified because Jayden died for no reason. He just did. Sometimes i just feel like tugging God's clothes physically so He can say all is well but i am still terrified. Everyday i wake up and say i get to bring this baby home but it doesn't really help all the time. I am just glad, its not just me with these emotions even i know God os close to me but i will bring this baby home and his name is Gerard.

Bloom Hospital said...

You have really allured me; I have no words to explain my feelings about your post.
infertility hospital chennai

Bloom Hospital said...

Yes we will come up with more strategies in our next blog post
water treatment equipments

Post a Comment

 
Blog Design by Franchesca Cox