pregnancy

"I tried not to love the baby growing inside me." The unspoken fear of pregnancy after loss.

This post deals with pregnancy loss and might be triggering for some readers. 

For any woman who has dreamed of becoming a mother, there is a brief moment that we all share. A common point in time that unites us. A moment that we will always remember. 

Those three minutes when you stand in your bathroom with the timer ticking away. Where you look at that pregnancy test in front of you, squinting.  

You put it down and walk away, trying to distract yourself. Only to be led back in anticipation. 

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Your palms are sweaty. Could this be the one? The moment that changes your life forever?  

Images of your pregnant belly flash before your eyes. You can almost feel the joy and magic of motherhood.  

And when those two lines appear, everything stops for just a moment. The excitement and joy are like nothing you can describe. It feels like you’ve just jumped out of an aeroplane and you're free falling through the air. It’s exhilarating and you want to shout it from the rooftops. WE’RE PREGNANT!

This is the moment that unites us all, but also divides us.  

For some, that feeling of excitement and joy is felt throughout your whole pregnancy. You start telling your friends and family amid excited screams and lots of jumping up and down.  

You open up your search engine, researching baby equipment and immediately start ordering your baby furniture. And then you head to the hardware store to pick out the colours for your nursery.  

Every doctor's appointment and scan is approached with happiness, and you share your growing baby bump on Instagram and Facebook. It’s perfect.

But for some of us, that feeling of excitement and joy is fleeting. For those of us who have been trying to conceive for a long time, suffering from infertility, or have previously endured a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, there is another moment that occurs. 

In my personal experience, it was a week before the switch happened. After almost seven years of struggling with infertility, nine IVF cycles and two miscarriages, it took a week for the excitement and joy to be replaced by fear and anxiety.

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I didn’t even tell my mum I was pregnant for the first 12 weeks. I didn’t want her to be disappointed AGAIN if things didn’t end well. 

At every scan, I held my breath, praying that the words “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat” weren’t uttered. Because I had heard them too many times before.

We didn’t buy any baby equipment or decorate the nursery until the last trimester, because we didn’t want to jinx it. And I tried my hardest not to love that baby girl growing inside me, for fear of losing her. Surely it wouldn’t hurt so much this time if I didn’t open up my heart.

Pregnancy for a woman who has suffered loss or infertility is a little different than most. We crave the innocence that was stolen from us. All we want is to be able to enjoy the miracle of having a baby growing inside us; we have dreamed of it for so long. 

We envy those who are preparing and dreaming and picking out baby names. We’re jealous that they get to announce their pregnancy in cute, creative ways, while we’re harbouring our secret for fear of losing it. We crave the normal feelings they experience. The joy without having to be afraid that it’s going to end in pain and suffering. We feel robbed of a beautiful experience.

On the other hand, there is guilt. Why can’t we enjoy something that so many women only dream of experiencing? Others would give anything to be in our position. We should be grateful.

We’re angry that we have to suffer for nine months like this, over-analysing every cramp, checking the toilet paper every time we go to the toilet, and missing out on the magic that we and our future baby deserve.

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And because we're no longer struggling to fall pregnant, we don't fit into the infertility category. We can no longer connect with the miscarriage support groups because we know how hard it is to receive pregnancy announcements inside there.  

As a result, our community is no longer rallying for us. The people we used to talk to have been left behind. And we're here, all alone, where no one else understands.

And because of that, we travel this path in isolation, inside our heads, fighting against anxiety, guilt and anger. 

We all deserve to enjoy our pregnancy and the excitement that comes with it. To know that we aren’t alone, that it isn’t just us, and that this feeling is completely normal.  

Did I get my happily ever after? Yes. While my journey was filled with fear, my destination was more than I ever dreamed of.

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. 

Jennifer Robertson is a fertility coach, and the author of The Injustice of Infertility, a raw account of her own seven-year fertility journey. Your Pregnancy Haven is a community where you can share, learn and connect with others who are on their pregnancy journey. For more information, head to the websiteYou can follow Jennifer on Instagram.

Feature image: Supplied.

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