I have had three miscarriages in two years, so to say I know a little bit about pregnancy loss would be a drastic understatement. And now, to both my surprise and excitement, I am pregnant again. I'm currently 19 weeks along, but I'm still terrified and holding my breath and, in a way, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I'm also determined to be happy and excited and not let an overwhelming sense of fear dictate this experience. And since I know I'm not the only person who is pregnant after a miscarriage, I believe we could all use a few pieces of advice that can help us navigate this difficult, exciting, scary, and incredible time in our lives.
While I am quick to say I know very little in the grand scheme of things, I am confident when I say that I have learned a few things about pregnancy after a loss. I have figured out, through a lot of trial and error, how to mitigate my feelings of anxiety and avoid emotional landmines and help ease my mind when it's at its most pessimistic. I have learned how to lean on the supportive people around me, be honest about my often juxtaposing emotions, and establish boundaries that allow me to protect my pregnancy and my heart.
So, yes, I have a few pieces of advice for anyone who is feeling as scared and excited and out-of-place about their pregnancy after a miscarriage as I am. Because, truly, this is an odd headspace to be in; being grateful and terrified, excited and worried all at once. We can certainly use all the help we can get, and we are definitely the best people to help one another.
Don't Wear Your Stained Period Underwear
Just don't. I know they're your comfortable underwear and you literally don't care if they are ruined during the duration of your pregnancy, but every time you go to pee you're going to have a miniature heart attack... and it just won't be worth it. Save those suckers for after your baby is born and your postpartum bleeding looks like that one scene from The Shining.
Don't Hesitate To Call Your Health Care Provider
That. Is. What. They're. There. For.
I know it can feel foolish and unnecessary and even uncomfortable, but your peace of mind is worth another phone call to that one on-call nurse who already knows your name. Your health care provider is a health care provider for a reason... to provide health care. If you have a question or an ache or a pain that makes you feel uneasy, call them.
Announce Your Pregnancy Whenever The Hell You Want
I have had three miscarriages, and I still chose to announce my pregnancy as soon as I found out. But that is my personal preference, and every pregnant person is different. So don't feel odd if you're hellbent on waiting until you hit that 12 week mark, or 20 week mark, or whatever mark makes you feel more at ease... and don't feel odd if you let everyone know when you're six weeks pregnant and the pee is still drying on your pregnancy test.
Don't Buy A Home Doppler
I know that some pregnant people like having a home doppler available to "check on the baby" and listen to a heartbeat whenever they'd like. But in a 2009 article published in The New York Times, Dr. Abhijoy Chakladar says they can give parens a false sense of security, and says the device should never be used for reassurance. "In a hospital, fetal health is assessed by experienced midwives and doctors who take a team approach."
Again, if you're concerned or feel like you need some assurance, you should call your health care provider.
Don't Be Afraid To Complain
I know what it's like to lose a pregnancy. Hell, I know what it's like to lose multiple pregnancies. And after you're experienced a loss, it's easy to feel like you don't have a right to complain about the common aches and pains of any pregnancy you experience in the future.
Well, you do. I do. We all do, because pregnancy is uncomfortable and difficult and losing your bodily autonomy is a pain in the you-know-what. You have the right to voice your frustrations.
Don't Google A Damn Thing
Repeat after me, my friends: if you have a question, call your health care provider. Just do it. Do not rely on the scary answers provided by the internet, which will almost always end in some kind of cancer.
So, you know, just stay away from Google.
Feel Free To Ignore Other People's Advice & Pregnancy Stories
Don't rely on your mom friends or internet mom groups, either. Yes, there is something to be said for learning from the experience of others, but no two pregnancies are alike. The last thing you need is to have a well-meaning friend share their experience and scare the living hell out of you. Her pregnancy isn't yours, her body isn't yours, and since she's not a trained medical professional she's not the best person to consult in times of worry or stress.
Focus On Something Other Than Your Pregnancy
Easier said than done, I know, but it's important to maintain a sense of self that goes beyond the pregnancy you're currently experiencing. You were more than our miscarriage, and you're more than this pregnancy, too. So find a hobby, focus on work, pour some energy into your relationship, or make weekly dates with your friends. Do something for you that has nothing to do with your pregnancy or babies. Not only is it good for your mental health, but it will help the time go by faster.
Don't Be Afraid To Be Happy
Sometimes, to be honest, I am afraid to be happy about this pregnancy. I am afraid that if I start gushing or making too many plans or buying a few adorable onesies, it will all go away. Like I can jinx it or something. I'm terrified that my happiness will somehow put a terrible fate in motion, and I'll be left picking up the pieces.
But I also deserve to be happy about this pregnancy. I deserve to look at the bright side and plan a baby shower and a cute "going home from the hospital" outfit. And so do you.
I know there's nothing I could have done to prevent the miscarriages I endured. I know there's nothing I can do now to make sure another miscarriage doesn't happen. But I do know that when this baby is born, I want to be able to tell him or her that I wasn't scared about them... but excited for them.
So be excited and be happy and post those pregnancy pictures and share updates. A miscarriage is part of your story, yes, but this pregnancy is your present. Enjoy it.