- Pregnancy After Loss (miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death)
- also Parenting After Loss
I am excited to be writing the final installment of my fertility series. I have written this post a thousand times in my head, but I have waited a long time (9 months to be exact) to get the words just so. I am thankful to all of you who have followed me as I navigated the back roads of infertility and pregnancy loss. Your kind words, prayers and shared stories have meant a lot to me. If you have stumbled upon my page because you are also unwillingly on this journey, allow me to reach out and give your hand a virtual squeeze. I will never stop praying that you too find your rainbow.
Pregancy after loss is … uneasiness.
It’s carefully comparing the pink lines on the multiple HPTs (home pregnancy tests) you have taken and wondering if it’s just you or have they gotten lighter instead of darker. It’s then googling “pregnancy test line getting lighter” to see if this has happened to anyone else and how it turned out.
It’s having having ultrasound after ultrasound in early pregnancy and always being the most surprised person in the room that this baby is ACTUALLY still alive and growing inside you. It’s reaching deep down inside yourself- where that baby lives- to find the courage to hope. The courage to talk to this baby, to give it a nickname, to try to guess its sex. Because these are the things that normal people expecting a baby do. Except you are not a normal person expecting a baby. And because you know that sometimes hopes are dashed, and the pain from that is long lasting.
It’s sensing that first flutter of movement and immediately feeling the relief wash over you and then recede as quickly as the tides. Because before you know it, that flutter is gone, and you can’t remember when you last felt it. The kicks get stronger and more frequent as the months go on. Of course, this is reassuring, but there are times that the baby goes quiet (how dare that baby sleep!) and, at those times, the uneasiness returns. You lie quietly on your side. You wiggle and shake your belly. You hold your breath. Soon, you enlist the help of your five-year-old who sings lovingly to your belly. There is a kick and a wave of movement, and you squeeze that five-year-old tight as you both chuckle over how the baby likes her the best. What a great big sister she is going to be!
It’s making an appointment with a perinatologist for a fetal cardiac echo because some study somewhere said that IVF babies may have an increased chance of cardiac defects (Rest assured, this is standard protocol and has nothing to do with the fact that you are neurotic). It’s squinting at the screen while the ultrasound tech explores the chambers of the babies heart trying to spot a defect before she does. It’s being told that that baby looks great and is still measuring ahead and thinking, surely now I can relax. Except you don’t. Not really.
It’s cursing God just a little bit for allowing mosquitos to carry something called the Zika virus that only really affects the unborn children of pregnant women. Like you really needed something else to worry about. Now you can’t leave the house without applying mosquito repellent. And you have to let your husband and daughter travel to FL without you, and this is not ideal because Daddies do things like let little girls drive in golf carts without wearing a seatbelt while an unlicensed driver is driving. And do they really reapply sunblock every 90 minutes and brush the very back molars like you do? You find solace in the fact that your baby’s head is measuring in the 90th percentile, so it seems highly unlikely that it has microcephaly.
It’s not going into labor early, as you had with your daughter, and hardly being able to stand the anticipation. It’s finally scheduling an induction to take place two days after your due date because you don’t think you will be able to handle it any longer than that. It’s going into labor one day prior to your induction and packing up your bags and heading to the hospital with contractions five minutes apart only to have them completely stop as soon as you arrive. It’s rejoicing that they find a reason to keep you because, in your mind, you refuse to go home. This baby has to come out now.
It’s having the most grueling, unmedicated, knee-knocking, teeth-chattering delivery. The bed is soaked. Your glasses keep slipping down on your nose. You barely feel present in the room, and a nasty thought creeps into your head. “Oh my God, I’ve come this far. Is it me who is going to die? How is it possible to feel this bad.” It’s summoning your inner Goddess. The one they talked about in prenatal yoga. The one who can get you through anything. You give one last push and hear the most beautiful sound in the world. It’s a boy, and he’s peed all over you. And although you are too tired to fully digest this moment, you know it is one of the greatest moments of your life.
And you get to thinking it wasn’t so bad after all. It wasn’t all uneasiness. It was belly rubs, comfy pants and checking out your growing side profile. It was baby hiccups, strangers smiling at you in the grocery store, and having a best friend with you at all times.
It was being pregnant one last time, and it was beautiful. And so is he.
If you want to learn more about my fertility journey, you can read my fertility series and IVF series here.