Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Being Pregnant after a Loss (Part 2)

(If you haven't read Part 1, you can go read it here.)

After reaching my 2nd trimester, I spent a couple of calm weeks feeling hopeful and joyful, as opposed to cautiously optimistic, until about a week before my next appointment.

Frightened thoughts reappear.  Will the baby still have a heartbeat, or will they tell me to be preparing to deliver a stillborn baby?

At my 17 week appointment, my doctor found Sprout's heartbeat the second he touched the Doppler to my skin.  Praise the Lord, for small blessings!

However, my doctor asked me if  I had started to feel any movement yet, which was cause for 4 weeks of obsession over every little feeling.  This was one instance where the pregnancy forums on www.babyfit.com were helpful.  There were a lot of people who said they didn't feel much until close to 20ish weeks.
Sprout's Feet at 21 Weeks and 1 Day

I had my Anatomy Scan at 21 weeks (and we are almost to the present, so bear with me).  I spent some time looking at the grainy ultrasound pictures trying to discern if Sprout was moving.  I can't remember exactly what happened but at one point I finally asked "So he's moving right?  He's alive with a heart beat and everything?"  The Tech, bless her heart, quickly told me that she hadn't even thought to tell me that because it was a given, and she hadn't known I was stressing over it.  She quickly showed me the beating heart and let me listen to it, and laughed about how Sprout had actually just headbutted her Doppler wand right before I asked about him.

She showed me all the parts, and explained that everything looked really good.   Sprout looked healthy, I was far past needing to worry, and I should just try to enjoy Sprout. (That's much easier said than done, but I appreciated the kinds words.)  Heart, Brain, Spine, Arms, Legs, Stomach, Mouth, Cord.  All good.  She told me that Sprout looked like he weighed 1 pound 1 ounce, was currently head down and sunny side up, and that I had an Anterior Placenta.  For those that don't know, an Anterior Placenta is in the front of your uterus and baby, rather than behind.  It doesn't really matter at all except that you can't feel the baby as early because it's like they are punching a pillow.  It absorbs the impact.  She told me that if I felt anything it would probably only be bubbles really low.  (And on the  BabyFit forums again, mothers with Anterior Placentas have been quick to reassure me that many of them didn't feel much until closer to 23 weeks.)

I breathed a TRUE sigh of relief because that was just where I had felt the little bubbles during my weeks of obsession.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), Sprout kept his legs crossed the whole time so I don't know if I've got a boy or girl yet.  I guess (s)he is just a calm baby right now.

I'd be lying if I said that the ultrasound where I got to see my precious baby's face laid to rest all of my fears.

Sprout's hands at 21 weeks and 1 day
I'm grateful that because I didn't get to see Sprout's gender that they scheduled another scan for two weeks away from that day.  That means that I get to have an appointment (and the reassurance that comes with it) in between my 21week scan that I just had, and my 25 week appointment.  That's right, I get to see Sprout again this coming Monday.  Praise the Lord again for small blessings!

Here's where I probably need to be very clear.  Most people would say that they completely understand being fearful during the first trimester, especially after a loss (or repeated loss), but might have a hard time understanding someone who remains fearful after that.  Most of the danger has passed right?

Knowing that, isn't the same as believing that. I've been trying to come up with a good analogy, but I can't think of one.  I hope you can settle for a crummy one.  Let's say a person is struck my lightening and lives.  Even though they know that the chances of ever getting struck again are minutely small, they still might be afraid of thunderstorms, or even rain.  They aren't scared because they think lightning is out to get them but because there is always that chance of getting struck again, however small.  They know how much it sucks being struck by lightening.  They know it isn't fun, it hurts, and that it talks a long while to recover from.

So I want to say something to people who are in their 2nd Trimester after a loss, who thought they would feel this huge sigh of relief, but don't.  This is normal.  Even if you were so sure, and said you knew what it would take to feel better and it didn't happen.

I've made all sorts of claims about when I would feel like a regular pregnant person who doesn't always have loss in the back of her mind.

I've said:
"I'll feel better when I hear the heart at 9 weeks."
"I'll feel better once I'm showing."
"I'll feel better after I hear it again at 13 weeks because that is 2rd trimester."
"I'll feel better after my 17 week appointment and I hear Sprout again because that is really really 2nd trimester."
"I'll feel better after the anatomy scan."
"I'll feel better once I know the gender."
"I'll probably feel better in the 3rd trimester when I can feel Sprout kick harder and more."

From my friends whom I've spoken to who have experienced loss too, this is all normal.  It's normal, and in my my experience so far, the anxiety does ease up considerably, even if a small part is always there in the back of your mind.

It's normal even if people around you don't understand it.  It's normal even if you know that you are being "irrational".  Even if, even if, even if.  It's all normal.  It's okay.

My advice?  Pray daily.  If you are Catholic (or toying with the idea) a Chaplet to St Gerard is a great addition to your prayers.  There is comfort in knowing someone in heaven (and a specialist non-the-less) has your back.  Trust in the Lord's plan.  Hold tight to your friends who have walked through it already, whether you know them in person or online through blogs or forum groups.  Tell your family you are expecting (if you haven't already).  You need their love, support, and prayers through good or bad.

Keep Calm, and Carry On.  That's all you can do.  That's all I'm doing.

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