If you’ve ever experienced a difficult childbirth, or if you have certain medical conditions, you know that your pregnancy is not the same (mostly) carefree experience that it can be for other moms-to-be. While your friends may become pregnant with ease and breeze through their morning sickness, glowing for the 10 months they grow their babies, you’ll be stuck with a permanent label: high risk. While every pregnancy is different (especially potentially complicated pregnancies) there are things you'll inevitably do when your pregnancy is high risk; things that help protect you from anything other than the best possible scenarios; things that you might not even want to do, but end up doing because, well, peace of mind is hard to come by when you're going through a high risk pregnancy.
After I lost my daughter and found out I was pregnant again, I was bombarded with so many conflicting thoughts; completely terrified of any problems my baby might have while also trying my best to remain as optimistic as I could for my rainbow baby. When you're essentially at war with yourself and your emotions, it's difficult to truly "enjoy" pregnancy the way so many women are able to. You've been on the other end of those scary statistics; you're acutely aware of just how bad things can get; you've been through something heartbreaking (or have been told you could experience something heartbreaking) and, for lack of a better word, you're scared.
So many women with healthy, "normal" pregnancies do what they need to do in order to get through morning sickness, constipation, bloating, insomnia and a slew of other pregnancy-related side effects. Those of you with a high risk pregnancy do the same, the only difference is the things you'll inevitably do to make it through your 40 or more weeks of pregnancy are less about your body, and more about your mind.
You'll Put Off Bonding With Your Baby-To-Be
It may seem bleak to some, but when your pregnancy is high-risk, meaning there’s a chance it won’t succeed, you'll often guard yourself against potential pain by not attaching yourself to your baby right off the bat. It took me a few months before I started really connecting with my baby-to-be, and even later to do things like make a registry or buy baby items, for fear of having to return them later.
I’ve known some high-risk mothers that try and bond right away though, to enjoy whatever amount of time they’ll have in the event they lose the pregnancy. The great thing is, though, that once the baby is born, you’ll be able to bond with them for the rest of their lives, and that’s the thought that keeps you going.
You'll Delay Your Pregnancy Announcement
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to wait a few weeks before letting anyone know they’re expecting. This is never as prevalent as it is among high-risk mothers, especially ones who have miscarried in the past. Due to the pain of letting others know about their previous losses, or because doctors may have warned them of their high chance of miscarrying early, many moms decide to postpone letting anyone know about their pregnancy until at least their 12th week, though I’ve known mothers who waited even longer.
Elaborate and early pregnancy announcements among the high-risk set are rare.
You Won't Tell Anyone Your Baby Names, For Fear It's "Bad Luck"
It’s a Jewish tradition not to announce the name of a baby boy until their bris. It’s believed to be "bad luck" to share it beforehand, in case the angel of death should overhear.
Many high-risk and loss moms carry a similar belief, and can't help but feel that naming the baby too soon might jinx their baby's chances of actually making it to term and being born healthy. I began writing down baby names early in my second pregnancy, but was terrified to tell anyone what they were. My husband and I agreed not to share the winning name until after the baby was born, but we also wanted to be sure the baby had a proper name in case they were born prematurely so as not to have to scramble at the last minute for a name. Suddenly, coming up with names (or sharing your baby's name) becomes infinitely more complicated.
You'll Probably Have A Later-Term Baby Shower
One of my biggest fears with my second pregnancy was planning a baby shower, and then not having a baby. I’d only just started planning my shower for my daughter when I lost her, so it wasn’t surprising to anyone that I was deathly terrified of planning one for my son.
I waited until I was past viability (24 weeks) and only then did I take the time to plan a small shower for close family and friends. Many high-risk mothers will wait until their third trimester to throw a baby shower, while others will even wait until after the baby is born, just to be on the safe side.
You'll Dream About What It's Like To Have A "Normal" Pregnancy
While you’ll do your best to remind yourself that everyone has their own set of challenges, you’ll find yourself wondering what it’s like not to need progesterone shots or weekly ultrasounds or have a constant cloud of fear looming over you and your baby at all times. You’ll wish as hard as you can to just have one day where you don’t have to be terrified that a few kicks mean your baby is actually in distress, or worse. Hang in there, moms.
You'll Push For Potentially Unnecessary And Invasive Tests In Hopes (And Fear) Of Finding (And Beating) Any Potential Problems
Many loss mothers I’ve met have told me that they requested extensive genetic testing and had amniocentesis performed in order to rule out certain conditions, though no previous blood work had even hinted there might be an issue.
Other moms, myself included, were adamant about receiving weekly ultrasounds just to make sure everything was OK with baby, placenta, and cervix. High risk moms-to-be will always imagine the worst, but they will also remain hopeful that their hyper-vigilance over their future baby will potentially save their life.
You'll Doubt Your Healthcare Provider At One Point Or Another
No matter how great your doctor is, or how understanding your midwife may be, you;ll disagree about something, at some point, with them. You’ll be the patient that everyone in the doctor’s office knows on a first name basis, thanks to all the calls you make and messages you leave. You might even switch providers at some point in your pregnancy. Second and third opinions aren’t rare to seek for high-risk mothers.
Try to keep in mind these people usually do have the best in mind for you and your baby.
You Try Not To Picture What Your Baby Will Be Like, But You'll Do It Anyway
High-risk pregnancies carry the very real possibility of missing out on your child’s entire future. As a result, you’ll do your best at first to try and not imagine what their birth will be like, or their first birthday, the first time they walk and talk, or their first day of school. You’ll work hard to ignore all those images of future snuggles and bedtime books and holidays because potentially losing that reality is just too damn painful.
Then, of course, you’ll picture it anyway, because not envisioning a future somehow only feels worse, like not picturing it means it really won’t happen.