Rainbows = Rain + Sun, on pregnancy after loss.
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Rainbow baby. That is the term for a viable pregnancy following miscarriage. A loss that is all to common, and much too little talked about in the world of women's health. 10-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, with most occurring in the first 13 weeks. Many women feel guilt and shame, that they did something wrong to contribute to the loss. But the opposite is true, in the majority of cases the loss is due to chromosomal abnormality, not anything the mother did wrong. Even knowing this it doesn't numb the pain of the loss. You still had your hopes up and visions of a new future for your family, there one day, gone the next. Not to mention the physical process that follows, for many, one that requires medical intervention. I have started to realize how much this silence around miscarriage is hurting mothers. We need to feel held and supported by our community following any loss, pregnancy included. If my story below resonates with you, I hope it helps you feel less isolated on your journey to motherhood.
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my pregnancy thus far and how my loss has effected my journey. I’ve always heard second, third, ect. pregnancies were different than the first. With my focus now being shifted to raising my sweet baby boy (ahem toddler), completing my women's health coaching program, building a business, and working part-time, my attention has definitely been spread much more thin than the first time around. I like to joke that some days I forget that I’m pregnant- except for the inherent pregnant memory my body has stored (yes its true, the bump does show earlier and is bigger the second time around). My first pregnancy I was obsessed with looking at my pregnancy app, what size is he today, what new things are developing today. I knew exactly how many weeks and days pregnant, and more importantly what food item he was the size of. What baby items do we need, how are we going to decorate the nursery, etc. ect. ect. Now, I give my best guess at weeks…and then quietly look at my app for confirmation.
The first time around I had only very mild anxieties of pregnancy loss which were muted by my excitement at the potential of finally becoming a mother. These anxieties, however, were for me the biggest difference between my first and third pregnancies. In February, I experienced an early miscarriage at around 5-6 weeks. Only having had one postpartum period and my cycle no where near normal it really came out of the blue. I remember feeling way more “off” hormonally (crazy insomnia and irritability) than what was my postpartum “normal” at that time and that triggered me to take pregnancy test. (side note- I’m laughing at ‘postpartum normal’, for me that experience was nothing “normal”. We will talk about that in a later post! ) I was shocked- pregnant? During that next week I was really excited and also freaked out. How the hell were we going to do this so close together? Are we crazy? How? But Sure! We are in for the adventure!
That next week I started having some increased lower back pain and was just not sleeping well. One week after finding out I was pregnant I started to miscarry. We went from being elated and scared to sad and feeling loss. I felt silly for getting so pumped so early in the first place and was thankful I didn’t spill the beans to anyone. I was devastated and embarrassed to share the news of my miscarriage with anyone. Because of that I really didn’t share with very many people, I kept it private and looked at it as an opportunity to continue to focus on my family as it is, and my current postpartum healing . In the following couple months we made the decision to wait on having a second child, I had scheduled my IUD insertion and had fully accepted where I was at. I was excited that I was starting to feel more like myself- working out more regularly, making healthier food choices, feeling vibrant again in my body.
Fast forward to mothers day 2019, the day following August’s 1st birthday. I had been tracking my cycles and when it got to being a week late for my period I decided maybe I should take a pregnancy test. I had a feeling I would see a little positive, I just knew it. And sure enough there it was. I felt this odd sense of- I fucking knew it, followed by a rush of emotion. Instead of feeling complete joy like the first time, and utter shock and excitement like the second, I didn’t really know how to feel. I wanted to be optimistic, but also didn’t trust it would turn into anything. I had just changed and accepted the vision for my foreseeable future and now this. Wait, I was just starting to feel like me again, shed those layers of being lost in the sea of postpartum and post-miscariage. Is this what I really wanted? Even if it is what I want, I might just lose it anyway.
Time during the first trimester slowly crept by. I was tired and slightly nauseous (really it was mild, I cant complain), and taking care of myself while caring for a toddler was much more difficult. But nothing compared to the anxiety I felt everyday. Every time I went to the bathroom- Is there going to be blood? Having dreams of miscarrying in the worst opportune times around non-ideal people. Not wanting to tell even my closest friends out of sheer fear I would have to explain to them I miscarried. It was hard to escape the feeling that it might not stick. And I most definitely didn’t give myself the opportunity to get excited. The 9 week ultrasound couldn’t come fast enough. I was fully expecting to show up and see…nothing. The tech was quick to show me, there in fact, was a little fetus with a healthy heart beat. “Ok, ok, shit, this might actually really be happening.” I felt a small sense of relief as we left the appointment. I remember my husband moving into excitement. I still felt trepidation. I wasn’t ready to trust yet, I needed more time. When I heard the baby’s heart beat at my first midwife appt at 13 weeks I felt myself relax a little more. “Ok little buddy, you are sounding strong in there. I guess this is happening. Oh shit, this is happening. Im going to have two boys 20 months apart in just a few quick months. Ok, people have done this before, people do this all the time. I can do it too.” My anxiety about loss turned into anxiety about doing postpartum again with two babies to take care of. The sleep deprivation, mood swings and anxiety were still too close in my memory to have faded into the background, where all I remember is the sweet smell of my baby, his skin against mine, and that sweet connection you get to make as you hold this tiny being safe in your arms.
I started to feel some dread- can I do this? Im still not excited. What is wrong with me? I brough up my feelings with a dear friend, who sympathized and said she had the same feeling when preparing for number two. So I wasn’t totally alone in this journey to acceptance and excitement. The 20 week ultrasound finally arrived, quicker than I expected, and we were happy to see our healthy boy in action. That 30 minutes, lying in the chair as the doctor showed me healthy body party by healthy body part, I started to feel myself relax a little more.” There he is, this little baby that we created. He is thriving. This is happening.” Ok, yes I know there are always risks, but my fear of miscarriage disappeared at this point. I could finally accept this pregnancy.
Today, 2.5 weeks after that ultrasound, I received a text from a girlfriend stating she saw a mom with a little baby in a coffee shop and she started to get excited for me. It was the first time I was able to read that and with conviction feel, yeah, I’m getting excited too. Don’t get me wrong, I am still freaked out about having two young boys, juggling motherhood with mompraneurship, and being present in all my other roles too, but that I can deal with. For now the daily anxiety of loss has gone. My attention and focus has now shifted back to my family, nurturing my growing baby, nurturing myself, and building my business.