Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard

Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog Every night, I chew a baby asprin, swallow a few other pills/vitamins, then grab an ice pack, a princess band-aid (because that’s the only kind we have) and head to the couch. My husband gets a Lovenox shot and points to a spot on my belly – I ice, we wait, then it’s time for him to give me the dreaded shot. Sometimes, it’s not too painful. Other times, it’s just plain awful and the resulting bruises that cover my belly are such a representation of how my heart feels. I’m generally pretty tough, physically, but more often than not, when the tears come, it’s because the pain is just bad enough to let all the emotions out.

If you’d asked me…well, anytime ever in my lifetime, if I’d be willing to take these extra measures for the sake of having another baby, I’d have said no. Yet, here I am, doing something I never imagined pregnancy would hold for me and thank goodness, because we are expecting a baby boy in about 16 weeks, likely to arrive January 2.

First we lost Hattie, then we lost Emerson, and then I think we were just doing whatever we could to not be pregnant for a while, or at least I was, because losing babies is just too devastating. Losing two babies, in a row, halfway through a pregnancy, and both in the span of 6 months, became emotionally overwhelming for me. I had spent days swimming in a fog of grief and missing out on much of the joy that my two sweet girls were surrounding me with. It wasn’t fair, for any of us, and without even realizing it, I just shelved the idea of pregnancy for a while.

Even though I was done for a while, I knew we’d want to expand our family at some point. After getting no answers and no real game plan for the next time, I switched doctors. In late March, he said to take folic acid for a few months before trying again and that we’d do hormones, shots and baby aspirin the next time around. I told him, thank you, but, I won’t be seeing you for a while. I hadn’t told anyone, not even my husband, but I wasn’t sure I had it in me to knowingly sign up for all of that. Not just the physical, but having to spend months wondering if each day was the last for our next little baby.

May 1, I had had that familiar feeling and took a pregnancy test in my daughter’s preschool bathroom (yep, that happened!) before heading in to smile and read the class a story while holding a new secret. A baby. Our third consecutive surprise baby. I was so happy, but I knew what we were in for and that it wouldn’t last, as our other two surprise babies are those we never really knew. Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog I started plotting out the game plan for when we’d be around that 18-20 week mark and what another loss was going to do. And then I got angry because the loss was going to happen right around my sweet girl’s 5th birthday, and just before the beginning of her Kindergarten year. It made me mad that I’d be in a fog during yet another time that was meant to be full of happy memories. I imagined the other school mothers feeling badly for her, the girl with the mom who looks like she’s always crying.

Still, I tried all I could to get this baby as far as I could. I started taking hormones twice daily, quickly figured out insurance to cover the Lovenox shots and 12 weeks of hormones, and made all the appointments. My new doctor is incredibly proactive, rather than reactive, made all of our action steps easy to understand and reassuring, and allowed me to come in as often as I liked for ultrasounds (so every 10 days to 2 weeks).

Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog

If you’ve lost a baby, you notice every.single.thing that is happening to your body while pregnant. The tiniest tiny twinge of pain anywhere close to the abdomen means that today is the day. The last day. Every day without constant nausea or exhaustion put me into a state of worry. Every trip to the bathroom leaves you looking for blood. Hope is hard. All you want is to get to 40 weeks, but every day has you wondering just how close you can get.

For me, I just couldn’t let myself believe for a long time. Our loss experience is incredibly rare. Because we lost two consecutive babies halfway through, and even after extensive testing, had no answers to why, it has felt as though it could happen again any time, at any point in the pregnancy and I have spent a large part of this pregnancy feeling like a ticking time bomb.  I didn’t think I was sick enough, or uncomfortable enough to trust that this tiny baby was growing properly.  Bad dreams, fear and anxiety were part of my daily routine. But, then the eternal optimist in me would shine through here and there. What if, just what if, we really did get to meet this baby. And my dreams would start, even if they did come with an emotional roller coaster:

At 12 weeks, I had my third ultrasound, but also heard the heartbeat. Hard to argue with that sound and my heart started to beat for this baby.  The Nurse Practitioner let me record it on my phone and I listed to it all the time! (It felt a little silly asking, but I highly recommend having that sound on file!) Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog At 14 weeks, I was hopeful – after all, the little bean had made it this far, why not all the way to 40 weeks?

At 15, I was plagued with nightmares of being back in the hospital and took it as a sure sign that we were near the end.

At 17, I thought I just might have felt movement. The same day, my husband pointed out that my belly had actually grown this time – something we hadn’t seen the past two times.

At my 18 week appointment, my doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat and I worked so hard to keep my breathing even as we headed into the ultrasound room.  This was the exact scenario when we discovered we’d lost our first baby.  Not only was everything perfectly fine (sneaky little baby was hiding super low), I got a little sneak peek of baby’s gender and allowed myself to imagine of how much a boy would rock our little girls’ world.

Around 20 weeks, I was sick with intense stomach pains for hours and quietly sobbed myself to sleep. This super active baby sat still for a full 12 hours and I was sure that we were headed back down the same road again. When he finally squirmed around, I nearly passed out with relief.

And now, we’re at 24 weeks, somewhere I never, ever expected to be. Baby boy is crazy healthy so far, all measurements exactly where they should be. Great fluid levels. And, seriously, he NEVER stops moving.  I enjoyed the movements of my girls, I marveled at them, but I also expected them to happen. This feels different – as if with every little movement, this little tiny is constantly letting me know he’s still okay.  I’m even spacing my appointments out to every three weeks now, which is a huge milestone in feeling positive.

If you’ve lost a baby and find yourself pregnant again (Yay!! Congratulations!!), I hope you take just a few thoughts of mine to heart. People will tell you to be positive, to hope, not to worry and that the odds are in your favor. If you have days, weeks or longer where you have a hard time with this, you’re not failing. You’ve been through something so deeply sad and it’s okay to feel the need to protect your heart a little. It’s normal to have a hard time connecting and bonding the way you’d expect to.

With that, if you have a twinge of excitement or hope, try not push it away. Hope during pregnancy after a loss is hard to come by.  But, if hope for meeting that little baby creeps in, try to allow yourself to feel it, even a little. You may be back to worry tomorrow, but the joy you may feel for those few moments is absolutely worth it.  I know you’re scared to let that baby into your heart, and that you remember the pain and how your heart broke into a million pieces last time, but maybe, just maybe, if you let yourself feel the hope, the fear will diminish for even just a few minutes.

For me, I’m collecting little blue and gray items (maybe too many?!) and desperately trying to find a boy name I like (I have at least 11 girl names, but boy names, geez…). I’m soaking up every single jump this little guy gives me, and they are plenty. Already, having a boy is so different and I have a feeling he’ll be moving non-stop from Day 1.

Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog

And what about the worry? It’s still there, lingering, and honestly, I won’t feel completely safe until he’s in my arms and I can look into his little eyes and hear that first little cry. The “what if’’s” are still there too. And what if we do lose this baby? If that happens, we’ll fall apart again, no doubt, and probably even more deeply than before. But I’m starting to believe we just might be in a safe place and on the home stretch. And we are looking forward to a very Happy New Year.

Pregnancy After Loss: When Hope is Hard | Twin Cities Moms Blog

35 COMMENTS

  1. Beth,
    You have beautifully expressed what so many women who experience miscarriage feel. We had 5 miscarriages after our daughter, including 2 in the 2ND trimester (17wks & 14wks). When the one at 14wks we had had all the tests, done all the work but he just didn’t make it. The hardest part the day I found out was that my 4 yr old was with me and i tried desperately not to completely meltdown with her there. When I found myself pregnant a 6th time I was less than enthusiastic . I have an amazing ft who had me come in the day I got a positive test, no appointment, no waiting, just come in and confirm. The next several months I went in every 2 weeks, just to get to the 18wk mark. At 10wks I had cramping and just had a feeling something was wrong, my Dr scheduled an ultrasound and everything was fine. In between appointments I went to a dear friend who is a midwife and she let me hear the heartbeat. We waited to tell everyone until 18wks, even our parents. This morning I am happily nursing that baby girl who will be 1 on Oct 20. I wish I could’ve enjoyed her pregnancy more but I an so unbelievably thankful that she is here. She truly completes our family and I can’t imagine life without her. There is hope after loss and there can be joy. Our baby’s name is Hope and she is my constant living breathing reminder that God gives us Hope.

  2. Do you have a blog where we can follow your journey? I lost a son at 32 weeks in January and your feelings, though our stories are quite different, was reminiscent of mine. I would love to see your story unfold.

    • H Amanda,

      I do have a blog but it is SO tired and dusty and doesn’t see much action. 🙂 I’m on Instagram though, and have been posting updates about this little guy regularly. You can find me @mrszustiak on IG. So sorry to have this in common with you though. 🙁

  3. We experienced 4 losses before having a successful pregnancy and I’m 26 weeks along with another! Like you, I’m on lovenox and baby aspirin among other medications. What I can tell you is just to relax as much as possible and trust God’s plan for your life. I never thought I would be able to carry a pregnancy successfully but the regimen we are on works!! Best of luck to you.

    • Well congratulations!! We’re just a week apart. 🙂 I’ve relaxed a lot more the farther we get – movement helps a ton. I do believe in this regimen and am so thankful to have switched doctors and be on this plan, as I would only have been on hormones with my previous care providers. So happy for you – would love for you to send us a message with your announcement when the time comes!

  4. Wow – I know EXACTLY what you’ve gone & are going through! Hugs to you. Our little survivors are true miracles!!! Thank you for sharing your story & giving such an eloquent voice to those of us who know the true agony of loss, but can’t quite express the pain & process getting through another pregnancy!

  5. I recognize so many of these feelings, Beth. We had surprise pregnancies, and loss on either end of my pregnancies that lasted. And I began my twin pregnancy on my back for two weeks, which gave me far too much time to think about all the possibilities. So glad you are on your way to meeting another healthy baby!

  6. reading this was so hard and sad as my daughter has had similar loss. She is just in her first trimester with twins. She is so scared and tired and nauseous she is not enjoying this at all. To top it all off her spouse told her he doesn’t want her or their twins…I am so at a loss to know what to do other than pray. For all of them.
    What else can I do for her? Did your parents support you during this waiting/torturous time? If so what did they do that held you up?

    • I am 33 weeks, 5 days. My loss occurred 9 years ago, at 34 weeks. What I am having a hard time with is controlling anxiety. My daughter was a vaginal birth at 38.5 weeks and my son was a 37 week failed induction (low fluid) resulting in a c section. My birth recommendations by our specialist were always induce by week 39. Now because I will bring a scheduled c section, I can’t have a delivery before week 39 (I could if I have an amnio to prove mature lungs). I guess I just feel like my doctors are minimizing my anxiety when all my blood pressure has done is rise since I scheduled the section. The date I got was with a doc I don’t know on a Tuesday (week 39 begins on Sunday) or the day before with the doc who discovered our fetal demise. I asked for the Friday before and am being told not without an amnio. I understand why the docs are concerned, but experiencing a loss like we did does not make us think pregnancy is “safe”. All I can think is that I lost a baby who could have survived, but he never made it to labor.
      The anxiety is unbearable and I feel like no one understands the terror. This can’t be good for the baby.

  7. Hi,
    I came across this post when I googled Lovenox and pregnancy. We recently lost our first child at 27 weeks 4 days after a 15 day stay in the NICU due to HELLP syndrome. We do not have an actual diagnosis as to what caused the HELLP syndrome. I was tested for all types of clotting disorders all of which came back negative. I am currently 5 weeks pregnant and doing my best to stay positive. We did meet with a maternal fetal medicine doctor who will be monitoring us much more closely. She had mentioned the possibility of lovenox injections as a precaution along with baby aspirin, calcium, MVI, and folic acid. I was wondering what made your doctor decide on the lovenox. We are trying to make that decision now as we would have to start them at 10 weeks. Just trying to get others input as there has not been much research done on the topic as a preventative measure. Thanks, feel free to e-mail me.

  8. I just had my first miscarriage in May and we recent discovered we are pregnant again and I am terrified. Thank you for sharing your story and emotions. It really hit home for how I am feeling right now!

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