Friday, April 5, 2013

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

I have thought about writing this post for some time now but would quickly realize that we had another appointment quickly approaching or something to that effect and I would shy away from posting because I thought I would jinx the health of our baby if I posted about how well things were going. That's the life of pregnancy after miscarriage. Over the past few months, I've had some friends reach out to me who were in the same boat and just didn't know how to handle it. I had nothing positive to tell them. There was no secret for how I was getting through and managing this pregnancy. Honestly, I haven't been.

From day one, I had a hard time accepting that we were pregnant. I think we both had learned to distance ourselves from the excitement. It's a sad truth but it's the only way we had learned to cope. Of course, we would be sad if we lost the baby, but it helped to not get too excited initially. When we first heard the heartbeat, we gained a little confidence. The sicker I was, the happier we were. On the days I wasn't sick, I would take note of the day and think to myself "We lost the baby today".

I refused to document this pregnancy through pictures, through a pregnancy journal, or anything that would be permanent. I would even put sonogram pictures on a shelf that I didn't see daily, just in case something happened and I wouldn't have to face it. I think a lot of this was unconscious in the moments, but looking back, I think there was more to it. Heck, I even refused to write this post for a while! I was nervous to buy a crib, clothes, everything with the thought of how hard it would be to put those things away if things didn't turn out for the best. With every symptom or lack thereof, I refused (although occasionally lapsed) to google it. For those of you in a similar boat, don't do it. Absolutely EVERYTHING can be a sign that you are miscarrying or a sign that everything is fine. There was no comfort and it usually brought me something else to be fearful about.

With every doctor's appointment, about a week before, I would begin to get really nervous. I was convinced there would be no heartbeat and I had to mentally and emotionally prepare my heart for that news that the doctor could deliver. Everytime I have to pee, it was like a freakin' science experiment examining tissue for any blood evidence. (I know that's gross, but it's true). On the days I felt good, I couldn't bring myself to exercise because after exercise was always when I had my first signs that we had lost our babies. At my last appointment, as morbid as it may sound, I asked the doctor how far along I needed to be for there to be a chance of survival. For those of you wondering, there are 3 milestones: 24 weeks and a baby will typically survive although there is a higher risk for long term problems associated with the prematurity, 28 weeks and the baby has an even better chance for survival with not a very high chance for long term problems, but likely some short term ones and, after 32 weeks, while the baby would have to spend some time in the NICU, it's almost as good as having a full term baby with little likelihood for issues.

I've spent a lot of days in prayer, especially in the beginning. Although the days were few where I had no symptoms, I would freak in those moments. If I only threw up once a day I would be nervous. In those few moments I felt good, I would pray that I would stay sick until Vera started moving regularly. God heard those prayers because it hasn't really let up! Let's just hope he heard the whole prayer and when she starts moving regularly, I'm no longer sick :) Now, in the moments that I am actually sick I wonder why the heck He chose to hear those prayers and why in the world I would have asked for that. If you've ever been pregnant and sick, you know how stupid that prayer sounds, but it's been a (weird) comfort for me. Now, when I haven't felt distinct movements for a couple days, I again will take note of the day (and sometimes time if I had a weird sensation) and find myself thinking "We just lost her".

Statistics don't comfort me anymore. I know it's unlikely to lose a baby this far along, but it was also unlikely to have 2 miscarriages in a row and even more unlikely to have 3. Seriously, it's like less than 1 percent. A heartbeat means good things, but for me, it has not provided any real comfort. I've literally had to have faith that Vera's life is not in my hands and there's nothing I can do to ensure anything.

A college friend is having a baby girl soon and naming her Vera. I wrote her to let her know I wasn't stealing her baby's name :) and she mentioned they liked the meaning of the name. I hadn't even looked this up yet! I did and found that the name Vera means "faith". It was such a defining moment for me because this whole pregnancy had been such a test of faith. With every symptom, lack of symptom, appointment, etc. I had to just trust that everything would be okay. That's not always what I did or how I handled it, but day in and day out I have to have faith that Vera is just fine. It's not easy, but it's certainly something I'm learning to do and getting more comfortable with.

The fear hasn't really left me although I have learned to put it aside and to pray through those moments or remind myself of the last time I threw up or felt movement and usually, the answer to one of those is within the past 24 hours (or usually 12 hours), and I can be calm for a little longer. So long story short, pregnancy after miscarriage is scary. There's no secret to managing all the emotions. Although time and good check ups bring a bit more confidence each time, I imagine I am not going to feel she is safe until she's in my arms, and in that moment, I'm sure there will be a whole new flood of things to be fearful about. I guess I've been welcomed into parenthood!