Warning: This post will be full of triggers about pregnancy loss and life after loss.
We did everything right. I was young, I had great medical care, took all my vitamins, am healthy, and my husband and I really wanted a child. But that didn’t matter, loss doesn’t only happen to ‘bad people’ or ‘people who didn’t take care of themselves.’ Pregnancy loss is something not discussed, it’s hidden which makes the people going through it feel like they are the only one, lost, alone, and guilty. So I thought it would be good to share my story.
My husband and I went in for our 20 week appointment, super nervous and excited. This was our first child, and we will most likely find out the sex! How exciting! The ultrasound tech found a little ‘abnormality’ but she said it’s probably nothing to worry about, recommended we go to a specialist to get a 2nd opinion ‘just to be safe.’ But that didn’t matter, we found out we were having a boy!
We talked about how excited we were and were already picking out names. The little ‘abnormality’ was the last thing on our minds… it’s nothing right? The tech didn’t seem worried and pregnancy is the easy part, the baby is most likely fine. We had gotten through the miscarriage window, we already told our families about our child, we were safe. We were happy. We sent out a gender reveal, along with our child’s name. Started decorating our Star Wars themed nursery, spent hours and hours on making the perfect registry. Things were great!
Fast forward to three weeks later when I am in a hospital room delivering our deceased baby. How could this happen to two loving parents? Things like this just don’t happen! Well, come to find out, they do.
During the span of three weeks I was poked and prodded, saw so many specialists, and had so many tests. That little non issue that seemed so harmless at the time, ended up being something big. My husband and I had a completely clean genetic screen, our son had a clean screen from an amniocentesis and was told by the end of it all “your baby has died and we have no medical diagnoses as to why this happened.” The final report was “multiple fetal anomalies,” which basically means a lot of stuff was wrong. We saw the very best at the Children’s Hospital, where they contacted doctors all over the country to try and find a reason why. No one could find any disease or genetic issue that would cause this.
“What are the odds of something like this happening again?” We ask.
“Well we don’t know, because there was no diagnosis on the cause of death” … well shit what does that mean? Should we try again, will there be issues, there has to be numbers or percentages! Doctors don’t just shrug their shoulders and say that they wish they had a better answer! Well come to find out that they do.
After a grieving period for our son, Eli, we decide to try to get pregnant again. My husband and I really want a child, that is why we tried in the first place! We are not forgetting our son, but we do want to start a family.
We had so many questions. Should we feel guilty that we are doing this? Should we wait longer? How are we supposed to act/feel? What do we say when people ask ‘is this your first?’ All these questions were left unanswered.
Fast forward to today. I am 37 weeks pregnant with our daughter. We have seen specialists all the way through and everything looks great, as boring and normal as the doctors could want.
My husband and I want this baby, we decided together we wanted to try again, so why am I not happy? Why can’t I name this baby, or be excited to pick out nursery items, or clothes, or lovingly talk to her at night. Everything seems like a chore, and I am dragging my feet as hard as I can.
I STILL can’t get over the fact that it can change so fast. Everything is fine until at the drop of a hat it is not fine.
I see all these other pregnant ladies that are so happy, doing gender reveals, setting up nurseries, having baby showers, naming their child, being happy as they should be… and I feel lost and detached. This baby and I living together, but so separate. She feels like a tumor or a parasite, and we are just symbiotically existing. Ignoring each other and going about our days.
People could not understand why I didn’t want a baby shower, why I don’t want pregnancy pictures, why I can’t pick a name for my child, and why I don’t want them touching my stomach to feel her move. So, I have spent a lot of energy pretending to be excited so the friends and family around me don’t think I am freak. I have spent 37 weeks trying to appease them with how I think I SHOULD be feeling.
Is the way I am feeling normal? Well, I don’t’ know because no one talks about loss, and pregnancy after a loss. It makes other people uncomfortable and uneasy, so I hide my feelings deep inside and act the way I believe other people want me to act. I trudge on, with a fake smile on my face and being as enthusiastic as I can.
I silently hope to myself that I will feel different when the baby is born. Once she is here, and I know she is healthy everything will be better right? RIGHT? I will want to name her, because she is here?!?! Well, I don’t know, because again no one talks about it, I feel like the loner. Is this pre postpartum depression, am I just really messed up in the head, or is this normal? Why is it fair that I have no idea if I am going crazy, or if this is typical.
I have been going back and forth for weeks about writing this post. Is it appropriate, or will I just make people uncomfortable? Maybe there are women out there that feel the exact same way I do, and hide it because that is not the way they ‘should’ be feeling? Well, if I help one person feel not as alone and crazy as I do then it was worth it.
We are approaching pregnancy loss awareness day, which happens to be the day I delivered Eli- October 15th. I want people to know that loss doesn’t just go away, and it is carried on with you even with your rainbow babies, and I think that is ok.
We should stand strong together, and support each other no matter what our feelings are. People who have gone through loss should not feel as I do, that they have to hide. I am going to do my best to be open and honest about my feelings for the last stretch of my pregnancy. Hiding for other people is not healthy, and I should not plaster on a smile to make sure other people feel comfortable around me. If you are reading this and the supporter of someone who is having a rainbow baby, or has had a loss: please let your friend, partner, spouse, family member feel how they need to feel and support them fully no matter what. Don’t make them feel like me, that they have to hide their feelings deep in a corner to make you happy. Feel like they have to act ‘the right way’ or act ‘how they should be feeling.’