While I will always be grateful for the amazing experience of pregnancy, going through a pregnancy after loss can be difficult. As I write this, I am currently in the third trimester of my “rainbow pregnancy,” and am finally feeling brave enough to share some of the things I didn’t realize that I would experience during this pregnancy.
1. That I would have mixed emotions. Most of the time pregnancy is greeted with an enthusiastic, “Congratulations!” Of course I was excited to be pregnant but these comments carried a lot of baggage with them.
After all, I had heard it before, without the ending that I had anticipated.
For the first few weeks of my pregnancy I felt like a fraud, not wanting to discuss my pregnancy or even trying to hide it.
2. That I would have anxiety before every doctor’s appointment. After my first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage, I got so used to hearing bad news at doctor’s appointments, that just going to the appointments in my third pregnancy gave me overwhelming anxiety.
Fortunately, appointments have been easier to go to the further along I get. But I still schedule them in the afternoon so I don’t have to return to work in case I receive bad news.
3. That the seemingly easy things would be so hard. I’ll probably never forget buying my first pair of maternity jeans. I went to Target because I couldn’t handle walking into a maternity store. I frantically searched through the jeans, praying that no one would approach me.
I couldn’t even bring myself to try on the jeans in the store, so I tucked them in the bottom of my cart and bought them. The anxiety of buying those first pair of maternity jeans was overwhelming. All I could think about is that I might not need them in a few weeks.
4. That I would change my mind so much. Along with having a rainbow pregnancy I’m also high risk, so there is seemingly something always to be concerned about. At times looking ahead feels like an overwhelming task.
I’ve changed my mind from not wanting a registry, maternity photos and a baby shower to wanting all of it. This is very abnormal for me, as I’m usually pretty confident in my decisions. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to change my mind during pregnancy.
5. That pain could send my mind into a panic. By nature, pregnancy is full of aches and pains as a women’s body changes to accommodate a growing baby. Unfortunately the aches and pains I’ve had often threw my mind into overdrive, wondering if this is the beginning of another loss.
6. That I would have nightmares. Sometimes my nightmares involve that middle of the night trip to the emergency room over two years ago when I had my first loss. Sometimes my nightmares involve my current pregnancy. Even as wonderful as pregnancy is, it’s also a trigger that brings back painful memories and current fears even when I’m sleeping.
7. That I would feel alone. I’m sure that most pregnancies contain some sort of loneliness, but being pregnant after loss left me in a strange place. I didn’t feel like I could happily join the other expectant mothers. For weeks, I watched several pregnancy announcements appear on my social media feed, yet I felt terrified to share my own. ‘Un-telling’ people that I was pregnant was one of the worst experiences of my life and I didn’t want to subject myself to that again.
8. That I would learn that there is no right or wrong way to feel. My feelings are often complicated and sometimes conflicting. I’ll feel overwhelming happiness which then turns to sadness. I’ll experience great joy only to be greeted with intense fear. Sometimes these feelings change within in the matter of seconds or happen within the same moment. Instead of trying to understand my conflicted feelings, I’ve learned to accept them. You don’t have to feel one way or another.
9. That I would find an amazing support community. Even though I would never wish pregnancy loss upon anyone, I have found the most amazing support people because of my losses. I admire these brave and beautiful women. They have been an inspiration to me and have continued to support me when I’ve needed it the most.