pregnancy after loss


{Photo is by Lillian R Photography}


When I was pregnant with Bennett I definitely had worries from our previous miscarriages. Once we got past the 12 week mark with him I was still a little anxious, but it definitely helped to have that milestone behind us. However, after we lost our Bennett at 20 weeks, I learned from my own personal experience that there are no safe zones in life, and the thought of being pregnant again was frightening.


Allowing ourselves time to heal emotionally (and physically) and deciding if we should even try again or not was a big deal. It was surprising when it felt like people wanted us to move on quicker than we were going. I know people mean well but when they asked if I was able to be pregnant again, etc. when I couldn’t even think about trying again was exhausting and insensitive. It made me feel like people just wanted us to replace our previous babies with a new baby and honestly, it’s just rude to ask.


It’s also not fun when people assume things about our fertility and even ask if we got pregnant through IVF. What? I have never mentioned IVF and it was never discussed for us because it wasn’t needed, so it blows my mind when people just assume these things. So please, don’t assume things about people. It’s not helpful.


I share about my personal experiences because I think it’s good to educate others on loss. I understand it’s a sensitive subject and if you’ve never had pregnancy or infant loss, I don’t expect you to know exactly how it feels. My babies have taught me a lot about empathy and grief, and I like to share that in their honor.


So here are some things I have learned about pregnancy after loss. It is hard and it is beautiful. This post is mainly for women who are pregnant after experiencing loss, but I think it is also helpful for people who know anyone who has lost a baby to get insight into the trauma we experienced and how it affects our day-to-day lives.


1. People will say insensitive things. I find it helpful to have a few go-to responses so when people inevitably say these things that can be triggering, I’m not caught to off-guard.

For example, when people ask me if this is my first child, I have the go-to “yes” with complete strangers when I don’t want to talk. I also have my go-to, “we’ve had a lot of loss,” or “this is my fourth pregnancy but we don’t have any children living,” or “my first 3 babies are in Heaven.” It’s good to be prepared.


2. Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about your concerns. Ask them questions, call them, and request extra tests if you want. Stand up for yourself and your baby.


3. It is ok and normal to cry and miss your babies whom you have lost. It is good to continue to honor them. Not everyone will understand this continued grieving but that’s fine. It’s normal to feel the loss and it won’t just go away if you someday hold a living baby.


4. Have at least one reliable, strong person in your life who you can vent to, voice your worries and concerns to, and who can help take care of you. If you don’t have someone, go to a therapist. I suggest asking a local church for recommendations.


5. Try to recognize your triggers. I know this can be hard because different things can trigger different emotions in me on any given day but over the years I’ve started to recognize certain triggers. I know the first few seconds of an ultrasound give me anxiety, so I don’t look at the screen until the technician says something. I also don’t like it if a technician is being really quiet while looking doing the ultrasound, so I ask them what they are looking at and it gives me peace of mind.


6. It’s fine to still unfollow people on social media. Once you are pregnant again, you might feel pressure to shove down those previous emotions of jealousy, sadness or comparison. I understand it can still be hard to see happy-go-lucky, worry-free pregnancies and moms on social media, or to see people with children the same age as your child you lost. It’s ok to unfollow.


7. Your perspective will probably be different than others. Personally I know there are a lot of things with being pregnant and being a mom that I would be worrying or concerned about if this is my very first pregnancy and everything was going perfect, but that’s not my reality. There are a lot of little things that I simply don’t even care about because I know at the end of the day I just need Pepper to be safe and healthy.


8. Don’t feel like a bad mom or woman when you are not able to physically or emotionally do things while pregnant that other people say is fine. The big one that comes to mind is exercise. Of course, saying active is good, but after I had Bennett it was so hard for me to do any kind of exercise, especially my habitual pilates workout. The sensation in my abs reminded me of giving birth to him and I’d just start crying. I was also scared to exercise if I thought there was a chance of being pregnant because I did not want to hurt my baby. I know it wasn’t my fault that we lost Bennett, but I remember being active when I was pregnant with him and the thoughts of “Did I overdo it?” would come creeping into my mind. People and pregnancy apps will all talk about how you should exercise or do this or that and it can feel lonely to not be able to do those things. Do not feel bad for being overly cautious with foods, chemicals, exercise or whatever it is. You do what feels right for you emotionally and physically.


9. It might take you longer to accept you are pregnant and start bonding with your baby while he or she is inside of you. That’s ok. Take your time and pray over your little one every day. Calling them by their name, or a nickname if you haven’t picked a name yet, can help too!


10. It is ok to be HAPPY and excited! Being pregnant after loss is extremely emotional. Sometimes the emotions stem from anxiety and other times our emotions are from extreme happiness, joy and thankfulness! We are humans with complex inner workings. Of course I talk about Bennett a lot and I always will. He is Pepper’s big brother and we love and miss him so much. And of course I am so so so grateful and in love with little miss Pepper and will be talking about her all of the time too! She is her own person and we love her so much. One love does not replace the love for another child. I am seriously so excited to hold Pepper in my arms and love on her. It’s ok to miss Bennett and be excited Pepper at the same time!


I hope these insights are helpful to you strong mama who is navigating pregnancy after loss. You are not alone!


If you or someone you know has experienced loss and isn’t currently pregnant, I wrote a blog post about Healing After Loss that could be helpful. You can read it here.


Much love,

Colette

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