The first few months following we agreed to not make that a public statement. Our closest family and friends knew, but it wasn't like I would write that sentence on social media... or anywhere. At first we kept it private because it was our personal time to grieve and grow and heal. But then it was because I realized that although 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy/infant loss, it's pretty much a taboo topic to speak on.
So I kept quiet. Even though talking about it was the most healing thing I did for myself.
We spent a good deal of time shifting and adjusting through our pain - gaining a new identity and then having it taken away is a difficult concept to live with. We learned that healing from loss is an ever flowing process and strength comes in waves. So we tried our best to grow from it and go about our lives normally.
Then something weird happened:
We got pregnant again. I know "weird" isn't exactly a word one would typically use to describe the blessing of pregnancy. I also know many women would've done anything to have been in my position and the word weird may seem insensitive, but that's exactly what it was. It was strange. Foreign. Different. I didn't know what to feel. It wasn't good. It wasn't bad. It wasn't the same as last time.
So for those who are currently navigating through the beginning stages of pregnancy after loss, here are my top 7 differences about my current pregnancy compared to the prior. I hope it helps you to feel understood, gain some clarity, and give you hope.
1. I wasn't excited.
I felt guilty for that, but it's the truth. My first thoughts were "Okay. This is what we wanted. Is this what we wanted? I don't know if I can handle another loss."
*googles statistics of repeat miscarriages*
(PSA - limit your google searches - you'll drive yourself insane).
I just couldn't bring myself to get excited about this one. I didn't download all the apps and set up my doctor appointment on day one like I did the first time. I didn't rush out to buy baby clothes or Pinterest "cute pregnancy announcement ideas" and "unique gender reveals" like I did the first time. We definitely minimized the amount of family we told. I did tell my sisters though. That was important. I was honest with them about how I felt guilty for not being excited. Their response made me feel so grateful for our close relationship. They said, "Ka'ala, it's ok. Because we can be excited for you. We can celebrate for you until you are ready to celebrate too." Those words really stuck with me.
Whoever you are, I hope you have a friend or sister or neighbor or anyone who will celebrate and be excited for you until you are ready to join them.
2. Everything worries me.
My miscarriage was actually what medical professionals call a " missed miscarriage " where the fetus dies but does not dispel from the body. Many women who have missed miscarriages can go for days or weeks with no symptoms. I went for three weeks. Three weeks of thinking my baby was growing in me. Three weeks of actually carrying my dead baby in my body. I had been having cramps throughout the entire pregnancy but honestly believed it to be a "symptom caused by my uterine lining stretching."
Then hell week hit. The last week before finding out - that week was awful. The cramps were out of this world. I started spotting. Then light bleeding. (I'll save my miscarriage story for another day, but you probably understand my worries).
So because of this experience, lots of things make me nervous.
Every single tiny cramp freaks me out. (and they happen every so often - because of the uterine line stretching.) Every single time I feel it, I text my sisters to ask if it's still normal. Every single time they tell me, "yes, but call your doctor if you are nervous." I am seriously so thankful for my sisters for not thinking I'm crazy for all the "is it normal to blah blah blah" texts I send.
Every time I wake up on my back, I freak out because "you're not supposed to sleep on your back after 20 weeks."
Every single medication freaks me out. I was sick with a cold for 6 weeks and refused to take anything for it until a month into the sickness. I didn't want to take any chances of harming my baby.
Every time I drive I freak out. I'm so defensive. I stopped texting and driving (which is GOOD). I fear car accidents because they can cause a miscarriage.
Every time I use the bathroom I'm worried I'll see blood. Then I'm so relieved and thankful when I don't.
Along with pregnancy comes so many strange things that happen to your body. All of them worry me. The list is far too long, but you get the idea.
3. I was afraid of sharing my joy.
After my miscarriage I became a part of a giant community of sisters who experienced loss and/or were trying to conceive (TTC). I knew how it felt to see pregnancy announcements on social media and secretly be filled with jealousy among all sorts of emotions. When I became pregnant again, I didn't want to cause any of my sisters in the TTC community more pain than they already had felt. I actually felt guilty. I even lost communication with another TTC sister after telling her my good news. I didn't want to lose anyone else over my joy. So I hid it.
That was unhealthy.
Experience your joy when and how you want to. Don't allow others to dim your joy with their sorrows. You can most certainly shout your joy and still be soft for those who need you. You deserve to be celebrated. If someone is unable to be happy for you. Give them time. Forgive them. They are hurting.
4. I experienced triggers.
If people don't know your history with loss, they might ask questions or speak on something that can trigger your emotions. One specific incident was at the doctor's office. The scheduler for my ultrasound asked if it was my first pregnancy. I assumed she was looking at my record and saw that I had been in for ultrasounds before. Trying to clear that up, I politely told her, "it's my first pregnancy that made it this far." She was very sweet and continually apologized for "making me uncomfortable" which actually wasn't the case, but after all the apologies, it did become uncomfortable and the tears started. I was so embarrassed for not being able to control my emotions. This made her apologize even more. And it was just an awkward mess. understand that there may be times when this happens, and it's okay. You don't have to act like it was NBD. It was definitely a big deal. Let yourself feel.
5. I didn't spend money on baby.
The first time around, besides buying a few items for baby, I did a whole lot of window shopping. I actually went to those big overpriced baby stores to envision it all. I planned out my nursery to have all brand new, color-cohesive furniture and decor. I made a list of the best of the best gear that I hoped to purchase. I had plans to be a super trendy mama-baby duo. Nursery furniture prices new is no joke, but I planned for it.
This time around? HA! I had my entire nursery furnished with things given to me by my sisters who passed items back and forth for 5 babies before mine. We drove to St. Louis to pick everything up and shove it in the back of a pick up truck. Not exactly Buy Buy Baby.
It's not because we are any less hopeful or any less in love with this baby. We just realized that babies are babies. They don't care what they have as long as they are cared for. I also realized that everything on this side of heaven eventually comes to an end, and I'd rather spend my money on quality items or experiences with my baby than stuff that sits in the nursery. I didn't purchase my first baby item this time until I was 22 weeks along. Don't get me wrong, I love interior decorating and I think our nursery is gorgeous, but I got everything for free, shopping small, or DIY. I'm putting some good stuff on my registry though, I can send you the link if you want. ;) ...kidding!
6. I am so in tune with my body.
Somehow I feel everything. While TTC, I paid very close attention to my body - what it was doing and when. I could tell when I was ovulating, I felt pregnant before I tested, I even felt my first flutter at 11 weeks. My doctor said it was probably gas, but now that it's been a good 12 weeks of movement in there, I know what I felt - and I know it was my baby. I feel it all. Every slight twinge and turn, I feel it. I know that gas is gas. I know that bloat is bloat. And that baby is baby. I didn't know anything the first time around.
7. I appreciate every(I mean EVERY)thing.
Morning sickness? No problem. Baby kicks? Yes please. Waking up 6 times a night to pee? Bring it on. Heartburn and constipation? Not the most pleasant, but I am grateful for the reason I have it. Every normal symptom is truly appreciated. I can honestly say, apart from that 6 week cold I had early on, I have been thoroughly enjoying this pregnancy to the extreme fullest. I get to share each step with the man I love, I have his total support and care, and have a sisterhood of women behind me and the best families showering me and our baby with love. I appreciate it immensely.
Another thing to note is that the fear of loss never really goes away. It just gets less severe as you meet each new week. I understand that there is still a possibility my current pregnancy can end in loss. But I believe in my miracle rainbow baby. I also have so much hope for all of you waiting on your blessing. If you are currently walking in your first few weeks of pregnancy after loss, I pray for you (along with all my TTC sisters and angel mamas) daily. And I mean that.