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What you’ll find here: the story of a mom who lost a baby when she was 32 weeks pregnant and subsequently got pregnant again. Here she shares her tips on how to cope with pregnancy after loss, how to deal with all the emotions and overcome fear and anxiety.
Pregnancy after Loss
My journey to pregnancy and motherhood was not easy. It was not a straight line from first thinking about getting pregnant to having children. I dealt with PCOS and trouble getting pregnant. I also dealt with several losses, including my stillborn daughter, Jasmine, in 2018.
My Personal Journey
The pregnancy with my son occurred before any of my losses. I was free from morning sickness and had a fairly smooth pregnancy and delivery. This was followed by a chemical pregnancy and an early miscarriage.
I then finally got pregnant with my first daughter. Symptom wise, this pregnancy was fairly easy as well. However, at 13 weeks, Jasmine was diagnosed with CDH (congenital diaphragmatic hernia). In my second trimester, she was also diagnosed with mosaic trisomy 15.
After our loss, we had a huge hole in our hearts and knew our family did not feel complete. We had to wait six months to try again. The decision to try again was not easy. The fear of something else going wrong, or the same thing going wrong, was high. When the six months was up, we decided to do a round of fertility treatment. Fortunately, it worked and we got pregnant with our second daughter.
This pregnancy was completely different from the other two. I was so full of anxiety and felt like I was waiting for bad news with each appointment. I would feel relieved when we had a good ultrasound, just to worry again a few days later.
Ultimately, I made it through this pregnancy after a loss and delivered our second daughter.
Tips on How to Cope with Pregnancy after Loss
A pregnancy after a loss is not an easy feat. We are left dealing with so many conflicting emotions. The joy and hope of a new pregnancy with a different outcome. This is mixed with the fear and anxiety that something will go wrong.
I wanted to share some tips with how I coped with my feelings and made it through my pregnancy after a loss.
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Need
If you are not getting the monitoring you need, do not be afraid to ask the doctors for more. You may have to be a bit persistent sometimes. They may not always be able to give us exactly what we need, like an ultrasound at every appointment, but they may be able to do more than they are currently doing. Even one extra ultrasound or one extra appointment can really help.
Due to my history of having a stillborn daughter, I spoke with my OB about my stress regarding the pregnancy. She was wonderful and referred me to an MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) for extra monitoring.
I had appointments each month with both doctors. The extra monitoring was extremely helpful for my anxiety. There was an ultrasound at each MFM appointment. All the chromosome issues our first daughter had were ruled out.
Despite this, I still worried something would go wrong. The MFM agreed to keep seeing me until I was a month away from delivery.
2) Switch Doctors If You Need To
It is completely understandable if you need different doctors or a different hospital for the pregnancy after a loss. The memories associated with the doctor visits or hospital visits can be painful to some. A fresh start with new doctors can sometimes help with the anxiety.
Some may feel more comfortable staying with the same doctors, since they are familiar. This is a personal decision and you have to do what works best for you.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, we were seeing a MFM due to some family history. She was the one who gave us the initial diagnosis of CDH with Jasmine. I was not feeling supported by her throughout the pregnancy. She was negative and not hopeful, when all I needed was a little bit of hope.
I ended up switching to a different MFM in my second trimester. It took me a while to realize that I did not HAVE to stay with her. That I had a choice in who my provider was.
3) Find a Way to Release the Anxiety
When you are in the midst of a pregnancy after a loss, it can be hard to settle the anxiety that always creeps in. The anxiety continues to build up and increases your stress levels even more. I often found I was on edge. Finding a way to help release the anxiety was crucial to me during my pregnancy.
There are many ways you can do this, so find something that works for you. Examples include writing, painting, exercising, or anything else that helps you relieve stress. For me personally, I found that writing out my feelings helped.
4) Think About Seeing A Therapist
When I was pregnant with our second daughter, I found a therapist who specialized in grief. We went weekly and he helped me immensely. He provided a listening ear as an unrelated party. My therapist also taught me some tools to use to help control my anxiety. I found him to be an invaluable resource.
Finding a therapist who specializes in grief really made the difference for us. It is not something every therapist wants to deal with, since it is such a heavy subject.
If you are not comfortable seeing a therapist, you can seek out a support group for loss parents. There are many groups available based on your location. Many are also available online. This allows you to connect with other parents who have gone through the same thing.
Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) has various online support groups that you can reach out to.
5) Stick to the Facts
“This is a different pregnancy.”
“I have no reason at this time to believe anything is wrong.”
There is no sense in worrying about things that have not happened. I know, way easier said than done. You can make yourself sick worrying over every little possible thing that could go wrong. Trust me, I have been there. It was so hard to turn my mind off. Instead, I tried to focus on the facts I knew at the time.
After each appointment, I would repeat all the good things I knew about our second daughter. She had no signs of the conditions Jasmine had. She was healthy. Sticking to the things I knew for sure instead of worrying about things that might happen helped reduce my anxiety.
In the end, there is nothing that will completely erase the fear and worry. Pregnancy after a loss is a unique experience. My biggest piece of advice is to take it one day at a time. Do not let the fear of what could happen take over. Let yourself also feel joy for the new pregnancy. You are strong and you have got this!
The loss of Jasmine inspired me to start Project Finding Your Rainbow. This is to give women a platform to tell their stories and to bring more awareness to pregnancy and infant loss. Please read more in the link above if you are interested in participating.
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About the Author
Sarah has three children, including her angel daughter, Jasmine. She started writing after the loss of Jasmine. Sarah currently blogs about motherhood, family, and travel, among other things. She is working to bring more awareness to pregnancy and infant loss. Her blog is Journey for Jasmine.