Fear. Anxiety. Worry. Numbness. Tentative hope, slowly growing into tentative certainly and reassurance.
As I write this post I am 19.5 weeks pregnant. I had every intention of writing this much sooner- I think I really needed to. I can use the excuse that I was busy- but really, I have been scared. This post is dark in places- I’m looking forward to following it up with a much more fun update soon, because I’m in a much better place now. But I still thought it was important to share it all with you.
Looking back, I am proud of myself for the way I have navigated this pregnancy one day at a time- the only way. The first trimester was filled with fear. We started off thinking that this pregnancy was a chemical pregnancy. Then, an endometrioma on my ovary grew, and my OB said I would probably need surgery in the coming weeks to remove it while pregnant. I was told it could rupture, which is a medical emergency, and the pain would be similar to the ectopic. Every time the specialist preformed an ultrasound, he would say that he needed to check the endometrioma to make sure it hadn’t turned “nasty”. I had spotting for about a week at 14 weeks. When I had an ultrasound at a non-specialist place to ease my mind, she told me I had a placenta previa. Further ultrasounds were required to show that she had made a mistake. I had things to be worried about, and trust me, I worried!
I cried a lot. I felt little to no connection to our baby 95% percent of the time. When I saw our beautiful baby on the ultrasound screen, it didn’t feel real. I was waiting for the person performing the ultrasound to say that something was wrong, which stopped me from enjoying the experience every time. James told me he thought that I would stop feeling depressed once I was pregnant. My OB referred me to a psychologist, after describing me as a “sitting duck for post natal depression”. I was surviving one day at a time.
I felt like I was constantly waiting for news from test results and impending ultrasounds – I was very closely monitored, which was anxiety inducing but also reassuring- for a few days, anyway. Even though this pregnancy has had it’s early hiccups (all of which have turned out fine), our rainbow baby has always been perfect.
My anxiety began to ease at 16 weeks, when we saw that yet again our baby was fine, and our OB told us we had nothing to worry about- I needed that reassurance to come from the outside, rather than trusting my own intuition that everything was going be OK. Which brings me to my next point…
Losing my Intuition and Relying on Others for Reassurance
Throughout the recurrent loss and ttc process, I completely lost touch with my intuition. I’m working on tuning in with it again and I can feel the connection coming back. I used to consider my intuition to be strong, especially when it came to my own body. I began to doubt and feel completely uncertain of myself, my intuition, and the capabilities of my own body following our first loss. When I look back, it’s very obvious why:
- I only found out that I was pregnant for the first time during my first miscarriage at 7 weeks.
- When i was pregnant the second time, I felt a strong bond with the baby growing in my stomach. At 8 weeks we learned that I had a blighted ovum- the gestational sac was growing, but our baby was not. I felt like my body and The Universe had played a trick on me.
- When I was pregnant the third time, we learnt it was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy during a very traumatic ultrasound that we attended to confirm a miscarriage, and I was in emergency surgery two hours later. It also turned out that I was also a whole month further along in the pregnancy than we realised.
No wonder I didn’t trust myself or my body anymore. All I needed was to hear someone else tell me that everything was going to be OK, before I chose the next thing to worry about. I have learnt that this is a very exhausting and unsatisfying way to live.
I was not bursting out of my skin to tell our family or friends that I was pregnant. I didn’t even want to tell my own mother. It felt like something was wrong with me, because I was not feeling the things that I thought I “should be”. When we told our family and friends our news, they all cried and were bursting with joy. Again, I felt like there was something wrong with me. I had not been bursting with joy yet. I had only cried one little tear of happiness in the whole first trimester. People would look me in the eye and say “this is so exciting” and I would say “yes, it is” when really- I wasn’t excited yet. I was scared it would all be taken away. One of my best friends told me that she was pregnant, and the reaction I had deep inside was the same as it would have been if I wasn’t pregnant myself. Most of the time I was either scared, or feeling nothing.
The journey of ttc and recurrent loss has taken me through a process of rapid transformation and growth. So has this pregnancy, and I can only imagine that motherhood will in the biggest way yet.
After exhausting myself with worry, I reached the point where I was so, so sick of it that I was TRULY ready to let go of this pattern. I have been a worrier since I was a child. It got better for a while, but the last two years have been out of control. I don’t want to be a mother who is crippled by anxiety. It’s so consuming and so boring. I’ve prayed for help to let this go. I’m letting it go because I’m so over it.
Liz Gilbert posted about concern vs. worry lately. In life there are some things that are worth being concerned about. Worry however, is unnecessary. Through the process of worrying we squeeze the absolute life out of a situation, and ourselves. I am very open to making this change.
I had an “enough is enough” moment after learning that my baby and placenta were both fine at 16 weeks. I was so sick of worrying. I thought “This is bullshit. We have been through enough. I deserve to have a happy, healthy pregnancy and a happy healthy baby, just like everyone else”. I have been repeating this mantra to myself (without the bullshit part at the start), and it has helped. I was brave enough to take my first bump picture at 16 weeks.
The Turning Point
I’m at the point now where I am trusting more and more that everything is going to be absolutely fine. Feeling the baby kick at about 16.5 weeks has been the absolute best thing for me- the baby is telling me that they are OK every day. The connection between us has grown stronger and stronger every day. I have allowed myself to start making bigger purchases for when our baby arrives in May. I’m grateful to have felt this movement so early- most of my friends didn’t until after 20 weeks, some at 24.
I continued to see my counselor fortnightly during this pregnancy, until the OB referred me to the psychologist that specializes in perinatal anxiety and depression when I was about 14 weeks. I have worried in the past that I would be an anxious or depressed mother, but knowing that I have this support network in place if I need it has made me let go of this fear. I’m at a point where myself (and the psychologist) are happy that any anxieties I’m having are just normal pregnancy fears that everyone has, and they’re not crippling me or stopping me from living my life the way I want to.
I also don’t know where I would be without my ttc sisters. My closest ttc sister is pregnant as well- we’re due very close together and having her as well as my other ttc sisters to open up to has been amazing.
Refusing to go back to my “Safe Place”
Something I became aware of early on in this pregnancy is that my familiar, “safe” place to return to would actually be another loss. It’s what I know. If someone had made this observation about me after any one of my losses, I would have told them to fuck off. But now I feel that it’s true, for myself anyway. The pregnancy progressing normally is my unfamiliar territory. When I felt anxious I would tell myself that I refuse to go back to that place. I’m stepping into the unknown now.
It is our 20 week ultrasound in 2 days’ time. I am nervous. I am still scared that it could all be taken away. I know that I will be just hanging out for the moment it is over and we know everything is fine. I think passing this landmark is going to be a huge milestone for me. I have promised myself that I am going to fully embrace and enjoy my pregnancy. While things can go wrong at any point, the chances now are very low. I think that it would be so sad if this pregnancy passed me by, and I missed the chance to enjoy it and bond with my baby. I am looking forward to moving forwards with my rainbow.