real life

"I was constantly reminded of the heartbreak." After the loss of three children, Ami fell pregnant.

Warning: This article discusses miscarriage and infant loss and may be triggering for some readers.

After the loss of three children, Ami Summers and her husband Dave were preparing to try again. Sadly, despite reassurance from doctors and CTG scans, Ami couldn’t shake the feeling that something might go wrong again. She shares her story with Mamamia.

I was at my fourth appointment for the week. I was in my third trimester, in my fourth pregnancy. Once again I found myself strapped up to the CTG machine at the hospital, desperately trying to make sense of the hurried beat of my baby’s heart. Was it too fast, or was it not fast enough? What was that skip I heard, and why was the print-out looking the way it did? Was that normal?

I stopped myself. At least it was beating. That was the most important thing.

Clicking over to 28 weeks into my pregnancy had meant the new stage of the plan had come into play. The plan included managing the risks and the stress of a “rainbow pregnancy”. My doctor suggested we manage this through a fortnightly obstetrician appointment, a weekly scan, and four CTG scans at the hospital weekly until our son was safely born. The plan was a mixture of gruelling, reassuring, and triggering. Being back at the hospital so frequently where we’d dealt with our three previous losses was a confronting reminder of old memories – traumatic memories. And all of this layered over another emotional complexity: utter gratitude, relief, happiness, presence and excitement that we were pregnant again.

A tribute to the babies we’ve lost and the significance of remembering their names. Post continues after video.

Four CTG scans on top of a weekly scan or obstetrician appointment impacted my ability to work. I had to reduce my hours and focus on the pregnancy. But really, I wanted to do the exact opposite. The reminder of everything that could go wrong and the worst-case scenario was pulsing through my veins every single day. As the morning sickness began and Dave and I watched my belly grow once more, I was constantly reminded of the heartbreak we’d endured before. Every day that our son was healthy and growing was full of gratitude, and happiness. Every kick was a blessing. However, being pregnant after loss was also emotionally exhausting. Every appointment, symptom, twinge and muscle ache reminded me of my past pregnancies.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ever-present reminder grew something unexpected – it grew an emotional state I had become akin to: surrender. Surrender to my body, and surrender to the possibility we may very well lose another pregnancy, at any stage. A strange, awkward embrace when you are overwhelmingly grateful of this little life growing inside you, trying your best to be positive and healthy, nurture your precious baby, and nourish yourself.

As the beep of the CTG echoed throughout the room, the midwife busied herself with the machine. Despite the chatter between my doctor and nurse, I couldn’t hear much above that harrowing beep. A few times, we lost the heartbeat and there was a loud warning sound that rang through the room. My heart raced – I could see it on the monitor, as my heartbeat began to rapidly climb while searching for our little boy. The midwife adjusted the strap, and the beeping began again. And then, the words that I had longed to hear, but couldn’t quite believe, my doctor looked at me and said: “The likelihood of you losing another baby in the third trimester is so slim that it’s not worth worrying about. You and the baby are travelling along perfectly.”

It’s what everyone longs to hear, whether it’s their first child, or fourth.

However, I’d heard it before.

pregnancy after loss
Ami and her husband Dave with their son Indy. Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnancy after loss
Ami and her son Indy. Image: Supplied.

Despite the comforting words of my doctor, I couldn’t shake my apprehension.

The last time I’d heard those same words was five days before my daughter Arla’s heart had stopped beating forever. We’d just had what should have been our final big scan at 37 weeks, and instinctively, I felt something was off. She was tracking at the 50th percentile for every measurement. I’d managed to convince myself that I was being silly as there was nothing wrong, and there was no need to worry. And then she died. And I gave birth to Arla at 38 weeks as a stillborn child.

This pregnancy was our third after losing Arla. My husband Dave and I had gone through two more subsequent miscarriages. Our hearts grew heavier with each passing, and we grew more determined to be parents. This time around, we had been blessed with a little boy, and he was healthy and happy in the womb.

Pregnancy after loss is emotionally gruelling. In so many ways, it’s one of the hardest things a woman who has lost a child can endure. The term ‘rainbow pregnancy’ never sat well with me. Yet every day, I am grateful to have persevered and now share my life with our beautiful son, Indy. Following the loss of three children, the birth of our son felt as if we’d completed a full circle.

ADVERTISEMENT
coping with infant loss
Ami's book, Heart Space. Image: Supplied.

My book, Heart Space was created for women, couples, and support people for these times, after loss and during pregnancy after loss. It was carefully constructed to help rebuild confidence, and strengthen the conversation within women around loss, so women are better equipped emotionally to try again. The loss of a child at any point of life is heartbreaking, but our access to constructive, self-directed and supportive resources to help guide us through these times are grossly limited.

For more on this topic:

Heart Space has not only made mothers feel whole again, but it’s given those the power to manage their grief at home between therapy sessions, and try once more for children. This 258-page workbook shares constructive coaching exercises, reflective practice, creative and physical exercises that help release stress, manage grief and work through emotions and memories of our children and pregnancies. Heart Space is available to purchase here. 

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637. 

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

Join the community of women, men and families who have lost a child in our private Facebook group.

00:00 / ???