I haven’t written anything new in a while now because for the last two months I’ve been in the midst of my own pregnancy experiences again, waiting until I actually felt like I had something I could say about any of it. It’s hard to write about pregnancy and birth from a third party perspective while I’m in it, and I didn’t think a whole post just about how terrified I’ve been would have been too useful. So as I round the corner into the second trimester, I wanted to share my experiences so far dealing with pregnancy after previous loss.
After my first two pregnancies ended in loss (9 weeks and 10 weeks) this pregnancy has been challenging in all of the ways I expected it would be and then some. I can’t speak for everyone that has lost a baby, but I know that many of the things I’ve gone though are common, not that it makes it any easier. There are the classic fixtures of course – checking the toilet paper every time you go to the bathroom, going to the bathroom JUST to check the toilet paper, anxiety as the mileposts from previous losses approach, nightmares about bleeding and losing the baby, feeling less willing to connect with the baby in case they die too, and just the general sense of being completely out of control. I’m also still dealing with a new facet of this experience this time which is that I am using supplemental progesterone, so this is now this added fear that making the wrong decisions about when to stop using it will cause this baby to die too, and that then it really will be my fault. Once we get a taste of “control” it is a double edged sword.
But beyond all of these aspects of pregnancy after loss that get talked about amongst due date clubs and online forums, there are two things that I’ve really started feeling that I haven’t heard much about. As someone who is very much a part of the holistic pregnancy and birth world, there is this added sense of guilt about having sought medical advice and using medical tools to maintain this pregnancy as well as get myself through this period of time with some semblance of mental sanity. Like I said before, I have been using supplemental progesterone since finding out my levels were incredibly low based on several different results. I also saw a reproductive endocrinologist to run all the recurrent miscarriage labs that I wanted done. Then at 9 weeks I caved and got an u/s because my intense anxiety was getting to be too much for me, and the many benefits of knowing what was happening began to outweigh the ultrasound risks for me.
In our classes we talk about Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Tradition as well as the Six Steps of Healing she sets forth, and how we can apply those to pregnancy and birth. The six steps start with doing nothing, and end with highly techno-medical options like surgery. The full spectrum really is available to us, and it is up to us as women to decide what steps to take and when. We are the only ones who can make those decisions, and sometimes we are the only ones who can understand why we made those decisions. That is the heart of empowered decision making, and sometimes it is really hard and really scary to break the mold in either direction. And when our confidence has been shaken through experiences of loss, it can be especially hard to set aside fear and doubt, and to feel sure about ourselves in our decision making.
The other piece that I’ve struggled with during this pregnancy is this sense that I need to “fix” my anxiety and get back to the bliss of being pregnant before my miscarriages. I’ve felt like something was wrong with me since I couldn’t get it under control, and I fought against the feelings with herbs, essential oils, therapy, meditation, and acupuncture. Honestly, while there have been moments of relief, nothing has really worked, because it is not possible for me to feel that way this time, right now. And guess what? That is ok. Sure, it has been uncomfortable, and has interfered with my life, and has made things pretty miserable for my sweet partner that has had to hear me whine and cry and mope around for months. But that is how it is, and there is strength and power in accepting that and carrying on with life as best we can in the meantime. Sometimes the only way out is through.
I have been so humbled through my 3 pregnancy experiences so far. They have brought me to a place I never would have come on my own. It is a place of humility, of surrender, and complete openness to all possibility. I hope that this pregnancy ends with a healthy, happy baby, but I know that there is only so much I can do. For this pregnancy I just want to continue making the best choices I can, coping with my feelings however I need to (or not as the case may be) and to not be afraid to connect to this baby and my community just because I still feel a lack of certainty. Nobody has certainty, some of us just get the opportunity to see that a little more intensely. As someone who attends births, I know that that surrender is important to the birth process as well as mothering, so I am grateful I have learned as much of that lesson as I already have.
So as much as I would trade back my losses if that meant I could have my babies here with me today, because of them I have been blessed with more tools and confidence as a woman, a sister and as a mother, and for that I am grateful.