Pregnant After a Stillbirth

baby-24.jpgAuthor’s note: Pregnancy is hard. You’re tired, you’re sick and you’re sore. Pregnancy after a stillbirth, for me, has been harder. On top of the physical strain there’s a mental anguish nagging at the back of my mind the entire 9 months. I can’t speak for all women who become pregnant after losing a baby, but this post is about what it’s been like for me.

“Heavenly Father, please bless that my baby brother won’t die in my mom’s tummy.” That has been the frequent prayer of my four-year-old daughter recently. She’s four years old and she has to worry about if her brother will make it here alive or not. To be honest, we all worry about that.

Because eight years ago her older brother didn’t make it here to stay. He lived 8 months in my womb. I carried him through the morning sickness, the exhaustion and the aches and pains of the last trimester. Then at 37 weeks a knot in his umbilical cord tightened too tight and he died before being born. We got to meet that precious angel and hold him for a day. But then we had to say goodbye.

Long before we were ready.

That beautiful little baby changed my life forever.

And he changed my future pregnancies.

Being pregnant after delivering a stillborn is like sitting on a fence of insanity. On one side of the fence there’s the bliss of bringing home a tiny, sweet newborn to love, cuddle and raise. On the other, there’s the dark, depressing reality that not all babies make it home from the hospital – that there’s a slim chance that this one may not either.

I know what you are thinking, that this baby I’m carrying will be fine – odds are things will end up perfect. But no one can tell that to my brain. It knows what’s it’s like when things don’t end up fine and perfect.

So in order to survive pregnancy my mind creates a protective layer that keeps me safe from the sorrow that may come. My mind doesn’t let me really believe that I’m really having a baby.

Sure my body feels it. I’ve thrown up more this year than I can count, I can only fit in a handful of items in my wardrobe and I’m getting a couple hours of sleep a night – at most.

I’m totally ready to not be pregnant anymore. But I’m not ready for a baby.

My mind won’t let me go there. I don’t have a name picked out, I haven’t packed a hospital bag and I don’t daydream about snuggling my newborn.

Instead I teeter on the top of that terrible insanity fence. Mentally tipping from side to side not letting myself land either place. I won’t let myself believe this baby is coming home, or that we’ll have to bury him near his older brother.

I am in limbo.

There have been moments in this pregnancy when I have laid in bed pleading that this baby would move. I’ve waited to feel him kick – all the while planning out what I will tell his siblings if he doesn’t.

There have been times when I’ve pushed back my fears by keeping busy – I’ve carried on with work and church and PTA trying to keep my mind from worrying. I have moved on as if I wasn’t carrying a baby – working harder and longer than I should have.

I have had random complications – spotting, blurred vision, failed glucose test – that had me convinced this was going to end badly.

The middle of the pregnancy was the worst. The time when I first felt him move until he started moving regularly was the peak of anxiety. I know that babies are too small to feel all the time at first and that their movements are irregular, I KNOW that. But still my mind played some terrible tricks on me and I was prematurely planning his funeral.

Now that he moves all the time it’s easier. This baby has probably been my most active. But even still, I will feel him one minute and then panic the next. It’s terrible.

I have fears about returning the baby clothes I have purchased. What will I do with the new binkies, diapers and stroller? I still have a box of brand-new clothes that were meant for Luca. Would I save all these ones too?

I hesitate to assemble the crib – worrying that it may jinx the whole thing. I set up the crib the day Luca died. Taking it down empty was traumatic.

I have less than four weeks left until I will deliver. In a little more than a week I’ll be 37 weeks – the same gestation that Luca was when he died.

I should be prepping freezer meals and making arrangements for my other kids.

But I’m not.

I should be setting up the nursery and finalizing a name.

But I’m not.

I’m just surviving. I’m clinging to NST test results and praises from my doctor that everything looks perfect. I’m rubbing my tummy, feeling for arms and legs happily moving inside.

I’m watching my other kids run around and I’m hoping for the best, yet dreading the worst.

It’s all out of my hands.

I may go insane the next few weeks but there’s nothing I can do about it. Except maybe pray.

Pray like my four-year-old baby girl. Pray that this baby will be all right. That he’ll make it here kicking and screaming.

And pray that I’ll be able to survive if he doesn’t.

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