Pregnancy after Miscarriage
The last few months of my pregnancy and the first few weeks of being home with our newborn have been a whirlwind! All in a good way though:) I'm trying to soak up every second of the newborn phase and trying to spend extra time with my toddler during naps, but want to get back to the blog over the next few months.
Throughout my pregnancy I struggled with a lot of anxiety, especially after what it took for us to get pregnant. I have read countless articles about how women with PCOS are more likely to have anxiety and I think the pregnancy hormones plus general worry about the pregnancy all add up.
I feel so blessed that I got pregnant six months after my miscarriage. After six years of trying, it was amazing not to have to TTC for years and years more after such a devastating loss. Getting pregnant after a miscarriage changes a lot about a subsequent pregnancy, or at least it did for me. Some days I lived in fear even though I tried so hard to be at peace and relax. Even if you haven't been through a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, pregnancy can be filled with fear and anxiety in women after going through years of infertility.
I remember getting my positive pregnancy test, and I remember physically shaking. I was shaking because I was shocked, in disbelief, ecstatic, and terrified all at once. All I could think was Holy Cow it's happening after all these years, after all these tears, after all these surgeries!! Then my excitement turned to worry. What if I have another miscarriage..how will I get through this? My husband now admits that when I told him I was pregnant he was of course excited, but he also had feelings of fear and doubt. So after being blessed with a pregnancy after loss, I've come up with ways that helped me cope with the fear of another loss that I hope will help some of you.
1. Enjoy every little milestone- I was at risk of an ectopic pregnancy so those days leading up to my first ultrasound were very scary. I was only 5 weeks and 5 days along at that first ultrasound and finding out the baby made it to my uterus and hearing that heartbeat the first time was a major victory. Anxiety still sometimes took over and I went home and still worried since I was so early along but I still celebrated this first milestone.
2. Have your spouse, mom, friend, sister, anyone you trust and are comfortable with to come to appointments with you - This was especially important for me during appointments with ultrasounds. I honestly was so nervous before every ultrasound, even ones towards the end of my pregnancy. I remember physically shaking in the waiting room before my 8 week ultrasound. Patrick was there holding my hand and trying to keep me calm (even though inside he was nervous as well). What if there's no heartbeat again? How will I get through another loss? Patrick would remind me of all we had been through and that we could make it through it again. His presence was an amazing calm. And if you are like me and ask a million questions at each doctor visit, it's helpful to have another listening ear or someone to help you take notes.
3. Reveal the news to people when you want to - I had to tell some people about this pregnancy right away because I was supposed to have a big surgery but it was of course cancelled when I found out I was pregnant. So when family asked how my surgery went, I told a few of them the truth of why it was cancelled. The rest of family and friends we told between 10-11 weeks. Whether you want to tell people right away or wait until the second trimester, it's completely up to you! You should pick which way keeps you calm. Sometimes it's nice for people to know so you can feel supported and prayed for.
4. Stay off the internet! - Sometimes the first thing I would do when experiencing a symptom was google it. The worst place I was always directed to was those forums where well meaning women ask questions and then a ton of people respond. It's scary to read these responses and this never reassured me. The only thing that reassured me was calling my doctor and asking the nurse. Some months I called once a week with a question or issue, but that's what your doctor and nurses are there for! Never feel bad to call and ask a question. You will either be reassured on the phone or they will have you come in to check everything out. A big concern of mine was that I had menstrual like cramps throughout about 70% of my pregnancy. Of course if you google cramps during pregnancy, it tells you all the horrible things this could mean. But I would call the nurse and usually go in to get checked a bit more and these cramps were apparently just growing pains.
5. Don't compare your pregnancy to another woman's pregnancy- Every woman is different in what symptoms she experiences during pregnancy. So don't be tempted to text a friend and ask if they experienced a certain symptom too. When I asked around to see if anyone else had cramps during pregnancy, every single person I asked said "No." You can imagine the panic this put me in!
6. Have an understanding doctor and staff- You need a doctor who understands your fears and why you have them. And the staff that answers the phone needs to be understanding as well. You will be dealing with them a lot if you have any concerns or questions. That's part of their job so never feel bad about that! I did call A LOT with questions/concerns throughout my pregnancy. Always be sure to express sincere appreciation for their help when you call.
7. Go ahead and get excited- Sometimes, especially in the first trimester, I think Patrick and I were reserved with expressing excitement in case something went wrong. But we realized ignoring the pregnancy or pretending it may or may not be ok is not going to make it any easier if I did have another miscarriage.
8. Talk to trusted friends and family- If you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, have someone to talk to that can calm you down and walk you through what you are worried about. Sometimes my fears were completely irrational and talking it out helped me see that.
9. Eat healthy and exercise- Eating healthy is important during pregnancy (especially if you have PCOS!). By taking care of yourself you will feel better and more confident. Eating lots of healthy fats and keeping my blood sugar stable helped me. Gestational diabetes was a big fear of mine, but you are not doomed to get it just because you have PCOS. Exercise too if your doctor says this is ok for you. Before pregnancy I did a lot of P90X and weight lifting, but once I got pregnant I was more comfortable with prenatal yoga and pilates and did a lot of walking.
10. Get plenty of rest- Pregnancy can make it hard to get sleep, especially in the third trimester. But try to sneak in naps or get to bed early. Being rested can make all the difference in anxiety.
Looking back on my pregnancy, I wish I could have relaxed more. But that's easy to say now that I have a healthy baby in my arms:) Sometimes you just have to do the best you can and take a day at a time.