“It’s the same thing that Lady Sybil died from, on Downton Abbey,” I explained to my friends, when they asked about my pre-eclampsia. I had pre-eclampsia during my first pregnancy, and I thought it was the worst pregnancy-related thing that could happen to me.
But now I know that there is something worse than having a pregnancy-related illness. And that’s losing a baby, or having a miscarriage.
When it happened to me, I was devastated and sadder than I’d ever been in my life. This surprised me, as I’m not some princess who’s had an easy life.
The shame, horror and misery of losing your own child eclipses everything. Even now, when I see or hear the word “miscarriage”, I feel a chill and my breath catches, as I recall my grief.
It’s been five months now since my miscarriage, and I want to have another baby. I have a three-year-old son, Jackson, and I’d love for him to have a little brother or sister. I loved growing up with lots of siblings, and so I’d always hoped to have more than one child.
I’ve already spoken to my obstetrician, and he’s given me the go-ahead to conceive another child. I’m healthy, and I’m so thankful to say that I can conceive easily. My husband is also keen to have another child.
However, the memory of my miscarriage hovers over my future conception plans like a spectre, and stops me from moving forward. It comes down to this: after having a miscarriage, I’m scared to be pregnant again.
After I had Jackson, there were several other things which held me back from having another baby. I wanted to get my body back in shape, and I was enjoying my new job. Eventually, I felt that I was ready for another baby, which is when we conceived and then lost our second baby. (Post continues after gallery.)
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And now, when I think about having another baby, it’s not my career, body image or concern about recurring pre-eclampsia that’s stopping me. It’s the fear of experiencing pregnancy loss.
The early stages of pregnancy are a total mindfuck. You don’t look any different, but everything feels completely changed.
Obviously, there’s the morning sickness, the sore boobs, the non-existent libido. But even more significant is the altered attitude. Suddenly, it wasn’t just me going to work at my dream job – it was me and my unborn baby, who I’d affectionately nicknamed Bee.
My future imaginings changed, from daydreaming about what I would achieve at my new job, to planning where to fit Bee’s bassinet in our cramped apartment. I’d imagined a whole future with Bee, and he or she hadn’t even been born.
And as soon as I’d become used to the idea of being a mum to two, I learned that my baby’s heart had stopped beating. My obstetrician searched for the heartbeat, and sent me for an additional ultrasound. Nothing.
While my body still felt pregnant, I now had to readjust to thinking of my life without Bee. I was not pregnant. I was not going to have another baby for awhile. My body was empty, and the only soul inhabiting it was mine.
It’s taken me longer than I expected to feel okay again. Although pregnancy loss is physically painful and disruptive, I found the mental recovery the hardest.
In the first few weeks after losing Bee, I’d cry at anything. Without warning, I would be plunged into an abyss of sadness, and I wouldn’t know when I’d next get out.
I eventually had to accept that my depression had resurfaced, and I asked my obstetrician for a prescription for Zoloft, which was the anti-depressant I used to take before falling pregnant. With prescription drugs, plus lots of self care and hard work, I began to feel better.
If I conceive another baby, it has to happen soon. I’m turning 38 next year, and I know that female fertility declines with age. I meant to fall pregnant again as soon as my obstetrician said I was ready, but I keep putting it off each month. “We’ll try next month – I just need some more time,” I keep telling my husband, who has been so understanding.
I just feel that I can’t do the mental gymnastics involved to adjust to being pregnant again, when there’s a possibility that I could lose the baby. I know now, more than ever, that miscarriage is common. But experiencing a miscarriage myself was more distressing than I could have imagined.
I know that my husband and I will try again. I know that I will survive this. And I don’t think I’ll ever feel truly “ready” or “okay” to be pregnant. But for now, I don’t think I can do anything else except for wait. I still lie in bed at night, worrying about what would happen if I fell pregnant again. During sex, I reach for the condoms every time. I need just one more month.
Do you have any advice for our writer? Can you relate to this, or know someone who does? Let us know in the comments.
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