Pregnancy after Miscarriage
Miscarriage, infertility and infant loss are topics that are seldomly spoken about. Feelings about a subsequent pregnancy are even less spoken about in context of a miscarriage. Likely, in hopes that becoming pregnant again will erase the indescribable pain of a loss. While everyone responds differently to loss, this was certainly not my experience with pregnancy after miscarriage.
Having had two early miscarriages, often known as “chemical pregnancies” followed by a traumatic miscarriage at 12 weeks resulting in an emergency D & C procedure due to hemhorraging, I was left with an immense amount of fear and also distrust in my body’s ability to sustain another life.
Condolences undoubtedly shared with kind intentions always echoed “everything happens for a reason” which made my heart ache so deeply. I blamed myself for the inability to carry another baby. I was working too much, not eating well enough, working out too hard, sleeping poorly. I made up every excuse possible, despite knowing that there was unlikely anything I could have done, in hopes of regaining control for future attempts.
With my heart still in pieces and feeling as though our family was unfinished I spent time reflecting on growing our family and my fear to proceed. I did things that challenged me, that brought me joy and I allowed myself to just feel. It was in that time that I applied my mantra for business to my fertility: action cures fear. I realized that regardless of how long I took before trying to become pregnant again I was still going to be afraid. And the only answer was to try. And so we did.
We were successful on that try and I was hesitantly overjoyed while pain and sadness loomed overhead. I felt guilt in moving forward. Afraid that someone would assume that I was replacing our lost angel with another baby. But before I could process those thoughts, the joy slipped away once again. I managed well, assuming that my body did not have enough time to heal from the surgery before trying again and granted myself some patience and grace with an upbeat attitude with “next time!”. Afterall, I had no difficulty becoming pregnant. It was staying pregnant that appeared to be the challenge.
Another month came and the signs and symptoms all too obvious that we had been successful, again. However, my attitude was different this time around. Rather than hopeful I found myself wondering how long I would carry this sweet soul before they too passed. It was the worst kind of feeling, neither sad nor rejoiced but a sense of nothingness. Too afraid to feel at all with the expectation of loss. It was dark. And lonely.
And my fear appeared to be coming true, yet again. And in that moment I felt validated. Of course, this was happening. The bleeding this time was heavy and painful and with wanting to avoid an emergency surgery, I approached my doctor to schedule one instead. We tested Hcg levels for several days first before proceeding with mixed results. My doctor was unconcerned. Deep down I knew something was wrong. I felt very, very pregnant. And I also felt as though I was miscarrying. It was confusing. And frustrating. I reached out to a friend who encouraged me to seek a second opinion and not to ignore what my gut insisted.
It turns out that I was correct. I was both very much pregnant and miscarrying. Twins. The scans said they were actually twice as old as I had anticipated. Turns out they were from our first try post D & C and somehow survived 2 weeks of heavy bleeding then. Now at this time, one angel was gone, but the other was holding on.
I can’t describe what it felt to have that news delivered to me. I felt as though I should be happy, we still had one viable baby. But instead, I was sad. Overwhelmed with what could have been. I felt greedy wanting both children to be well.
Now considered a high risk pregnancy as my body was actively trying to pass the one twin, my anxiety heightened. I did not feel I had the strength to bear another loss and yet hope was nowhere to be found. A very kind nurse could see my struggle and I remember her words well:
“Michelle, all you have is the present. You have today. Today you have one healthy baby to care for and to allow to thrive in your home. Enjoy today. It’s all we have”.
And so I did.
I chose to love this child so deeply regardless of the outcome.
Because it was all that I could do.
It was hard. With several more scares along the way this pregnancy challenged me and it challenged my heart. But she was right, and love won. Just shortly after 22 weeks gestation we shared our joy on the day that we had expected to be holding an angel in our arms. That day was hard, but I believe in celebrating the living and by sharing our future my heart found closure.
As we await the arrival of Olivia’s sibling I often wonder how I will feel when “Baby A” is placed in my arms for the first time. I imagine it to be a day filled with immense happiness, a moment of sadness to honour those that have passed and the beginning of a lifetime of love.