I will preface this article by saying that I am now the mother of the most beautiful, determined little 8 month old boy, whose presence has changed my life in the most magical way. But getting to this point was not easy.
I’ve been asked a few times what it’s like to be pregnant after having a miscarriage, but while I was pregnant I felt that I didn’t have the ability to fully articulate what it feels like. I hope that this post answers some of those questions for those who asked, or were curious; and sheds some light for those who were otherwise none the wiser.
If you’re familiar with my previous post, you’ll know that in May 2016, my husband and I miscarried twins. For us, that was a life shattering event. After the miscarriage, we stopped focusing on conceiving. We put our house up for sale, and toward the end of 2016, we booked a holiday to Norway and Poland, ending with a visit to the UK to see my Dad. Our departure was early February 2017.
It was during a routine doctors appointment that my GP asked me if I was still taking the folic acid supplement, to which I replied casually, “Nah, we’ve stopped trying, and booked a European holiday instead”. My GP responded with a quip about how I’d probably fall pregnant now, and we laughed.
Well, low and behold, one and a half weeks before our departure, I was sitting on the couch at home feeling absolutely exhausted, when it suddenly dawned on me that the last time I’d felt that exhausted was when I was pregnant. An entire box of pregnancy tests confirmed my suspicion: I was pregnant.
“Shit”, was my first thought. “Right”, was my husbands reaction when I showed him the positive pregnancy tests.
Not the joyous moment you imagine when you discover you’re expecting. You see, it’s incredibly hard to be excited about this when you’ve had a miscarriage. We were terrified, of not only another miscarriage, but of it happening overseas.
I made an appointment to see the GP a few days before our departure, and we came up with a plan in the event that I miscarried overseas, which consisted of taking paracetamol and codeine tablets with me, and to not get on a plane if I am bleeding. We made a follow up appointment for when we returned home to see if I was still pregnant. Right from the beginning, I was convinced this pregnancy was doomed.
To our genuine surprise, the pregnancy survived our overseas trip, and was confirmed as healthy and viable through an ultrasound shortly after we returned home. We took our house off the market, thinking the timing wouldn’t be great if we were moving while pregnant or with a newborn. But I was still convinced it would end in a miscarriage.
I lived from ultrasound to ultrasound, telling myself that if this scan was ok, I’d only have to make it another so many weeks for the next one to see if the baby had survived. I became incredibly strict with food, avoiding those banned foods during pregnancy like the plague.
I became incredibly superstitious and anxious, and did not want any negativity or stress in my life. Neurotic would be a fairly honest self assessment of my thoughts and behaviour. I didn’t want to tell people, and in fact, other than telling my immediate bosses at 10 weeks (just in case I miscarried and needed time off), I didn’t announce it at work until the 20 week mark, because I feared I’d only have to tell them I’d miscarried later.
There were two major stresses that occurred in my life during the first pregnancy. One was an investigation that I was conducting at work; and the other was a particularly upsetting and worrying phone call from a long time friend, who was having relationship problems. Both of those situations cropped up during this pregnancy, and I could not handle them.
I wormed my way out of conducting a similar investigation, because I was convinced it would lead to a miscarriage. When the same friend phoned and told me they were having relationship problems again (and that I’d been a terrible friend), I couldn’t handle it. I felt like I was living in the past, and the past resulted in a miscarriage. My work suffered, and my friendship was over (although I didn’t realise this until much later).
I was living in a protective bubble, shutting myself off from every possible physical and emotional thing that I felt could negatively impact on the pregnancy.
By the time I’d reached the 30 week mark, my husband and I came around to the idea that we may actually become parents. Even with an obvious bump, knowing the baby’s gender, and feeling him move, I was still thinking, “hmm, we’ll see how this turns out”.
If the baby didn’t move enough for me, I’d panic. We spent one morning at the hospital because I was panicking. The doppler scan confirmed that all was well, and my mind was at ease, but only for a few more days. The last 8 weeks of pregnancy, I was living from one checkup to the next. The only way I survived was to keep my mind busy. If I felt anxious, I’d reorganise the cupboards, and clean.
I was finally free from all of my anxieties on September 15, 2017. Although my pregnancy was normal and healthy, our son was born via emergency cesarean section after my waters broke almost 58 hours prior. It was then two more days before labour actually started, and after all of that, he got his shoulder stuck.
It wasn’t an easy journey for us to become parents, but we’d finally got there. Every heartbreak and anxious moment was worth it.
It hasn’t been easy since then either. In our sons first three months, along with recovering from major surgery, I had breast feeding issues, which resulted in using formula instead, and the guilt and grief that comes along for ride with that decision. We’ve dealt with colic, reflux, an undiagnosed tongue tie and the medical and emotional battle that comes with that, suspected pyloric stenosis, and a Hospital stint over Christmas for a viral illness that left him unable to feed from a bottle… on top of the expected sleep deprivation and general life changes.
So, in a nutshell, what is it like being pregnant after having a miscarriage, you ask? It’s terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. But to hold your child in your arms, makes it all worth it.