When most women see those two pink lines on a pregnancy test, they are elated. Those lines promise a new bundle of joy entering the world in a few short months.
But for the one in four women who has lost a baby, either through miscarriage or stillbirth, those two lines can be terrifying and are anything but reassuring.
I have lost three children in the past four years, along with giving birth to my two living children. All three of my losses were in the first trimester, and came on with no warning.
I lost my first baby at only five weeks. A few short months later, I got pregnant with my son. When he was only five months old, I got pregnant again, quite unexpectedly; but wasn’t even aware I was pregnant until I lost the baby at eight weeks. Three months later, I lost yet another baby at six weeks. And finally on New Year’s Eve of that year we found out we were expecting our daughter.
Call it PTSD if you will, but for me being pregnant is extremely stressful.
Every single time I use the restroom, I look for the telltale blood on the tissue. Even in the middle of the night, I turn the light on to check.
Every cramp or twinge is a panic attack.
Every time the doctor puts the Doppler or ultrasound probe to my belly, I hold my breath, waiting to see if there is still a heartbeat. I literally threw up three times on the way to my 12-week ultrasound with my daughter, terrified by what we might see — or not see.
When my morning sickness finally fades, instead of being relieved, I am terrified this means I’m losing the baby. The one reliable indicator I seem to have of a healthy pregnancy is morning sickness. I never had it with any of the babies I lost.
As much as my miscarriages stole from me, the innocence of pregnancy has to be one of the most devastating. I can’t enjoy feeling the baby grow within me for fear that if I bond too soon, my heart will be broken even more deeply.
Though the anxiety decreases after the first trimester, it is still in the back of my mind. If the baby hasn’t kicked in a while, my anxiety rises by the minute while I do everything I can think of to wake them.
When each of my children was laid on my chest at birth, I didn’t cry like the moms in the movies. I was still too in shock. This baby actually survived; I was finally allowed to fully fall in love with them.
We now know the cause of my losses, an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Though it is unlikely to cause another miscarriage now that it is under control, this is one risk I am too scared to take again any time soon. I am enjoying raising my two living children too much to live through 40 more weeks of terror right now.
While I would never want to go through a loss again, my angel babies have taught me to treasure every moment I do have with my babies here on Earth.
Have you experienced pregnancy after a loss? How did it affect you?