A few days before my first prenatal appointment, I lost my unborn baby in the most tragic ways one could lose a child. Loss is tragic, regardless of how someone passes. Miscarriage is a tragic and traumatic way to lose a baby. There is just something about the hope of a new human life ending that way that hit me quite differently from all my other losses.
I am a girl that has experienced loss too many times. I am familiar with grief. What I am unfamiliar with, however, is that pregnancy can end abruptly, and you can’t do anything about it. This is what my miscarriage was for me; a kind of pain I had no control over. Mine was a missed miscarriage – this means I had no idea that our baby had died.
We were looking forward to having an additional member of the family. I was warming up to the prospect of having to take care of and raise another child. And those hopes have not been diminished, but the idea of falling pregnant again sent chills down my spine. “How could I possibly go through that again?”
It is the fear that it might happen with your recurring pregnancies that make family planning such a fear-filled experience after a miscarriage. We might not vocalise the fear, but there is always that looming anxiety of it happening again.
When you do eventually become pregnant, every cramp you feel raises very loud alarms in your head. Every visit to the bathroom becomes an exercise to check for any blood spots. Those first few weeks are a rollercoaster.
Miscarriages happen before a foetus is 20 weeks, with most happening in the first 12-weeks. This is why a lot of women wait for three months before they announce news of their pregnancies. After a miscarriage, chances are, they will not announce the pregnancy at all.
This does not mean that families are not in the hopes of carrying this human life to full term and birthing it healthily, it’s the inevitable fear of getting hurt again. It cripples you to a point where it’s even hard to make room for them in your life. You are not thinking about the future, making space for them in your home or your heart.
The worry then disappears when the doctor gives you great feedback, and you get to see – and even hear – that little heartbeat. I could not the first time. It just stopped beating before we could. You then go home and deal with the inevitable sense of worry again, and wait in anticipation for your next appointment.
What is key to note is how normal all of this is. I felt bad about feeling bad, until I talked to other women that have lost children, then became pregnant again. All you can control is trying to create a counter-voice of hope and positivity at the single sighting of the fear and worry. Guided pregnancy meditations and sessions with my therapist have been life-saving,
The paradox of grieving a pregnancy loss and carrying a human life is a kind that needs you to put in the healing work. If you don’t, you will be stuck in a dark place that can easily lead you to depression.
It was this very acknowledgment that saw me making a conscious decision to take extra care of my mental health during this time. The fear of passing on my fear onto my unborn baby surpassed the fear of possibly losing her.
I have no control over whether or not my pregnancy ends or progresses well. All I can do is keep healthy and strong. I do, however, have control over what goes in and out of my mind, although anxiety may sneak in unexpectedly. Even then, I can make an effort to lower its noise.
I do this by connecting wholeheartedly with the baby and even talking to her. I openly talk about my fear with my partner and friends, which helps with not internalising it.
We are staying in the hope of our lives being changed yet again with the blessing of parenthood. The hope is intentional, the anxiety inevitable and the future absolutely unknown… but exciting.