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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

pregnancy after miscarriage: why you should tell people about your new joy

I've found a lot of things to be different this time around, being pregnant a few months after a miscarriage last fall. For one, I worry way more this time that something could go wrong. I know that something really could go wrong, from past experience, so it's in my mind all the time as a reality. It's a sad reality to have to face as a woman. I wish women did not have to go through this, the fear and uncertainty.

I've realized something though, being pregnant after a miscarriage. I've realized that we women should talk more about it. I know it's difficult to talk about miscarriage, and probably for some even harder to talk about being pregnant after that experience. But I believe fully that opening up about those fears, worries and thoughts that won't stay out of our heads is important and helpful to the mom-to-be. 

I told my sister instantly this time. But I told her to not ask me about it, because I thought we'd jinx it with even her knowing. But I HAD to tell someone else besides my husband. I needed to be able to text her random feelings and questions so she could reassure me things were fine.

But we waited to tell everyone else in our life until about 12 weeks along. That was super hard this time. It was my choice. I wanted to wait "until everything was OK." Whatever that meant. I wanted to wait until further along, which means in medical terms a decrease in chances of losing this pregnancy. I hated that I even had to consider that. We told with our other two children at 7 and 8 weeks along, bursting inside to tell everyone our special news. This time, I was scared. I wanted to wait to be sure.

But here's what I've learned post-miscarriage and now in the midst of a pregnancy... we CAN'T be sure. We cannot know what is going to happen with any pregnancy. I had two very healthy pregnancies before a miscarriage. I'd have thought that third one would have ended OK also. We can't know these things. We just can't.

With our miscarriage, we did tell our closest friends and family members what happened afterward. We wanted their support and for them to realize why we were quiet and a little off at family functions. I was grateful nobody at work knew of our experience, it was easier to deal with... so perhaps waiting a little while to tell people is helpful.

This time, however, waiting until 12 weeks to tell everyone was my choice, but a hard one. To be scared and in isolation is not a good option for moms who have gone through something difficult.

I didn't realize this at the time, but as soon as we told others, little by little my fears dissipated. I felt a weight coming off of my shoulders with every text I sent or call I made or hug I received from an excited family member. Their smiles, hope, joy and happiness for us sort of fought off the fears I had within me for 3 months. Every time they asked me a question, "How are you feeling? Are you going to find out what it is? Do you think you know what it is this time? Do you feel different this time? What do your kids think, are they excited? Where will baby stay in your house?" I couldn't help but enjoy it, embrace the possibilities and changes in store for us. 

Every single time they congratulated us or "liked" our picture announcement on Facebook I felt inside this hope I hadn't felt before in the weeks of isolation not talking about our pregnancy. I started saying and thinking, "We're having a baby," versus "I'm pregnant." There's a difference. Those who have been through a miscarriage probably can relate to that difference I'm talking about. Being pregnant can go away, unfortunately, but having a baby is forever and it's happening and real. It's hope.

I started to allow myself to feel the baby clothes in stores and imagine buying some. I eventually did buy a couple of onesies and felt OK having them in the house. I started wearing maternity clothes and bought a shirt one day, feeling proud of myself, that I was telling my fears to shut up, that YES I'd wear this maternity shirt in a few months and all would be OK this time.

I settled into this pregnancy as soon as we told others our news. I was on edge, nervous, afraid, and unsure before that point. But when people showed me that there was nothing wrong, we could be hopeful and happy, I settled into that idea and it overtook me in such a calming way. 

I'm still nervous. I still have moments every day where I wonder what that feeling was or if this or that is OK. I count the moments until I'm going for my next ultrasound to be reassured all is well inside my growing belly. I still have a week in mind in my head where once I reach that point I'll feel more reassured that all is going to work out OK. And I secretly have this feeling of wanting to get to full term just so I can meet this baby quicker than I'd wanted with my other pregnancies. I just want to fast forward to the moment a baby is placed in my arms so I know we're in the clear.

I still freak out a little more than the last pregnancies. BUT it's not overtaking me. It's not controlling my experience. I'm saying baby all the time and talking about how our lives are going to change a third time this fall. I'm planning the baby's room and making a list of things we need to buy at Babies R Us. I'm talking to my kids about the baby sibling they will have. We're making plans and being excited. Because that's what hope is all about. And hope is the only thing to have after a miscarriage experience.

What I've learned is that I wish I'd told a few more people earlier on. 

My advice to you if you've gone through this is to keep your news to yourselves until the first ultrasound and then if all is OK and you feel better at that point, then tell everyone! Tell people slowly, tell them all at once, but tell people. Let them help you feel more confident about this process. Let them be there for you through the fears. Have people who you can talk to openly about those strange thoughts you're having of worry and uncertainty. It's good to share those things so they don't consume you, so you can enjoy this pregnancy.

I'm in a good place now. I'm excited. I believe a lot of that is the growing belly, strong ultrasounds and the hugs and happiness on others' faces.

I hope you are able to find these things for your own journey through this pregnancy after miscarriage.

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