And yet, a year later, I'm about to deliver my rainbow baby, another pregnancy, three weeks away from delivery day. We are blessed.
Yet this pregnancy after miscarriage has been really, really trying on my emotions. I struggled big time the first 6 months. I wrote about that on this blog (search label pregnancy after miscarriage). I had real anxiety this time, worried anything would make something go wrong.
The third trimester though, I dove in head first into this pregnancy, embracing it, making a conscious choice to stop worrying and freaking out. I was ruining my own experience before that. And the stress of that anxiety could not have been good for baby. So I chose at about 6 months along to be positive, to focus on the end goal of holding my baby, and to enjoy this pregnancy. I had to choose this though. It didn't come naturally. I had to force myself through the fears and instead say something positive to myself. Then eventually it came naturally.
This was NOT easy. But I pushed myself to do it. Just like when you're training for a 5k race, you just keep trying, through shin splints and through feeling like you can't breathe and sweating and injuries, you get up again and try to move forward because you know it's good for you. That's what I've done for almost 9 months now. And I'm heading toward the finish line now... and it's amazing and scary all at once, but more amazing.
Here are some things that have helped me to reach this point of enjoying my pregnancy after a miscarriage and staying positive:
- Smile at the comments. I know this is hard for some women to do, but I found that when I embrace the comments of how my body and belly were growing, it made me feel better. It meant that the baby was thriving and I was doing a good job. It was like with every positive comment of adoration of my growing belly, people were forcing me to be positive, because if they saw it, if they knew the belly was growing, then I felt the baby was indeed OK.
- Prepare the baby room. Let yourself get into that process. Look things up on Etsy. Make a registry list of items you want/need. Look on Pinterest for a theme. Really get into it. Each time you focus on the reality in front of you that a baby is coming and you're preparing for it, the less your anxiety will overpower you. Having something tangible to focus on, to picture, imagine, and really believe in helped me. Seeing the crib, sitting in the glider rocking chair, imagining holding my baby there, these things helped me focus on the prize at the end, not the insecurities of something going wrong.
- Come up with a mantra. For me, I find myself waking up in the last two months in the middle of the night saying to myself, "Dear God, please bless my body and my baby." I don't know where it started, but it's comforted me. So find something to tell yourself in those darker moments of fear. I also tell myself "More babies are born healthy than not. More women have healthy pregnancies that reach the end than do not. We can do this." Believing is half the battle.
- TALK. Don't hold it in. Talk to someone about all the insecurities, fears, worries, stupid thoughts you may have. Don't keep it inside, that makes the stress worse. For me, my husband is my person. I told him every little thing and he encouraged me the whole way. I also had a couple of close friends I messaged and texted when I was down one day. Having their reassurance helped a lot. So find your person. I also asked more questions this pregnancy of my doctor. I asked silly things, but let myself ask those questions because it helped calm me down.
- Baby fetal heart rate monitor. This really helped me. I hesitated buying one of these in the beginning because I didn't want to freak out if I couldn't find the heartbeat one day, as an untrained professional. So I waited until probably 6 months along to get one of these and it's been a lifesaver since. I only use it a couple of times a week, but it calms me down instantly if I've had a day where I don't feel the baby move as much for a few hours or if I just want to hear the heartbeat to remind me that yes, life is growing in there, all is well. I highly recommend getting one, but not in the beginning where it's too small to hear and may worry you.
- Have your partner or a friend go with you to doctor's visits. I did this the first six months, every month ultrasounds, I couldn't handle alone. I did not want to be at the doctor's office and have them tell me bad news and me be alone. I couldn't handle that. So my husband lovingly went with me to everything in the beginning. Then around 6 months I realized I could do this, I was positive and focused and were were OK. I went alone, and I was so happy, proud of myself. I texted my husband, "I did it!" But if you never reach that point of going alone, it's OK. Whatever helps you through is OK. There is nothing irrational with pregnancy after miscarriage feelings.
- Take pictures. Document. I write in a journal every few weeks, even writing my worries. I take pictures all the time this pregnancy. I'm trying to show myself, see, you're growing.
- Slow down. For me, physically slowing down has also helped. I took a lot more naps this time around. I put my feet up, sat down to feel the baby move. I talked to the belly more, asking it, begging it to show me a sign that it was OK. It reassured me EVERY time. So take your time, cater to yourself, pamper your body, do whatever makes you feel physically stronger and better, so that you can emotionally get there, too. Deep breathing helped me a lot also.
- Do what makes you feel comfortable. I had an irrational fear of feta cheese this time around. I ate Greek salads with feta the whole first trimester of my first two pregnancies, a huge craving. This time, it took me 8 months before I ate a salad with feta in it, and it was only once. This was one of those irrational fears about the feta causing an issue to the baby that I just indulged, I allowed it because it didn't make me crazy and it was an easy one to omit and control. So if you have little things like that, then just let it be OK. Whatever helps you feel reassured. I think it's about controlling some part of what is uncontrollable.
- Remind yourself of the truth. The truth for me was that I had gone through two healthy pregnancies, two healthy babies and deliveries before, so odds were I could do it again. I also had to tell myself, that every doctor's visit was positive and there were no worries on the doctor's face. My husband would tell me, "you're not a doctor, she is, listen to her, not your worries."
- Google sparingly. Googling random symptoms and worries = not helpful. Ask your doctor instead. But Googling weekly updates on pregnancy to reassure you that you're fine is helpful actually. I did this every week this pregnancy, reading all about the new things my body was doing, what I was growing inside, how the baby was developing. It made me feel at peace, at ease, like all was OK.
- Go shopping for the future. I found that when I purchased baby clothes, like a Christmas outfit, it made me focus on the future in a positive way. Like, of course this pregnancy would be OK, of course I'd deliver a baby, of course we'd make it months to Christmas. I also bought a larger size black skirt to wear on the first day of school when I went back to work after summer. I bought this skirt when I was still wearing size small maternity clothes. I bought it in anticipation of being at the end of the pregnancy. I had to focus on the future, being positive that we'd get there. That's hard to do in a pregnancy after miscarriage. But it helped me a lot.
It's not easy being pregnant after you've lost something so precious already once before, after you realize all the bad things that could happen or go wrong. It's so hard to stay positive. I get that. There will be a fear in the back of my mind until this baby is on the outside and in my arms. But you CAN reach a point where you're calmer, more positive, and facing the future with open arms instead of fears.
Thinking of you, moms, anyone who has gone through this before. Stay strong. You WILL get there.