Monday, March 18, 2013

Pregnancy after loss

I've been struggling to start getting into the nitty gritty on my blog. I've really been struggling with posting Ian's story but I will get into that another time. Bear with me. Please leave feedback of any kind- comments, suggestions, requests, anything, I need the feedback to fuel me. I need to know that people are hearing me or else I feel alone and I hate feeling alone. So please COMMENT, even if anonymously! And if you are friends and family reading this, most likely you are not the ones mentioned below ;-) The whole preaching to the choir thing ya know.

I'm noticing that I feel anxiety when I blog instead of it being therapeutic because I feel everything needs to be fully and perfectly detailed and laid out. I feel it has to be long, informational, accurate, sometimes positive, etc. And that is making the thought of consistent blogging sound daunting and overwhelming. So instead of hide. I will try and post more frequently but it will be messy, emotional, and sometimes short, sometimes long. Sometimes I will write a bit and then come back to an idea. I need to get this stuff out there. So that's that :-) Also, I love punctuation of all kinds!!! I'm Italian, I need to speak on the internet in the same way I talk in real life and punctuation helps with that.

I've finally decided on the first topic from my list because I've read some blogs of women going through a difficult pregnancy after loss, and they are struggling with their feelings and with the feelings of others. I'll explain. 

Pregnancy after loss

I've had the pleasure of sharing stories and following a few women around the world via internet who are currently pregnant after experiencing a loss. I know that for me, being able to share my struggles with these ladies and have them understand and KNOW exactly what I'm talking about has been incredibly healing for me and enlightening in many ways. I think these women are brave and strong for reaching out during the toughest times. I did not choose to connect with anyone during our roughest times over the last eight years. There were a number of reasons. I've always isolated myself in times of extreme stress and trauma. That is my "go to" defense mechanism and it may not be the best, but it's what I had at the time to get me through. Also, the supportive internet communities were not built up the way they are now back in the early 2000's when our difficulties started. I can count on one hand people I've met in real life who have experienced similar losses and struggles. Baby loss and struggles with pregnancy are NOT talked about enough. Yes, it's hard to and depressing to discuss dead babies and negative feelings during pregnancy. I'm seeing a lot of these women struggling with it now and I've decided to bring light to this particular topic. The lack of proper support in all aspects of our life while going through the tragedy that is multiple loss while trying to build a family was a BIG issue for my husband and I. We blindly made our way through this journey with little to no support. The devastation, depression, and difficulty we experienced was made MUCH WORSE by the general lack of understanding, consideration, sensitivity, information, and insight. It doesn't have to be this way. So let's talk about it.

Please read- Women/couples who have experienced a loss at any gestation of pregnancy no matter how early or late, no matter what the circumstances were, no matter if it was child 1, 10, or 100, SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED BY SOCIETY TO FIND ANY SUBSEQUENT PREGNANCIES/BIRTHS/CHILDREN STRESS FREE, JOYFUL, EASY, ETC. We should not be made to feel BAD for experiencing and verbalizing our feelings at any time in our lives. WE SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO LIVE UP TO ANYONE ELSE'S EXPECTATIONS for how we should be feeling during subsequent pregnancies. WE SHOULD NOT BE TOLD BY ANYONE ELSE TO FEEL EXTRA THANKFUL for this "second/third/fourth/millionth chance". Another pregnancy with ANOTHER BABY does not replace the baby we lost. So don't say "at least you can have more" or "Hey, at least this one is living, be thankful for that". KEEP THOSE COMMENTS TO YOURSELF. Period. 

There are so many aspects to pregnancy after loss that are indescribable. Your mind, emotions, soul, and body go through horrors that no one should have to experience, but here we are. So at least let us GRIEVE and PROCESS and GROW OUR FAMILIES how we choose. When you get pregnant after a loss, you have to endure the loss again, over and over, at every stage of this new baby's life. Can we say PTSD anyone? Repeat trauma? It's a real mind fuck I'll tell ya. No, it's a SOUL fuck. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. When I think back to my pregnancies after losing Ian, I can't BELIEVE what I endured. I can't BELIEVE we made it out ALIVE and still married. Especially with many other losses peppered in between and after my two living sons. Subsequent pregnancies can sometimes bring us a whole new level of fear, stress, anxiety, isolation, guilt, heart ache, pain, apathy, grief and so on. Things that we were expecting to feel. Things that aren't talked about widely and are taboo. We certainly don't need others "expectations"  and thoughtless comments on top of all the other crap we have to deal with. 

"The bright side" and "the positives" don't need to be brought to our attention to support us or "help us" to have a successful pregnancy. We don't need that kind of support. If you don't know what else to say, then say CONGRATULATIONS and nothing else. Comments like "wow, this one must be meant to be. Everything happens for a reason" or "why are you stressed, things are going so much better and you are farther along" or my favorite "I know that this one will work out. No worries.This one will be fine" minimizes our pain, minimizes the life of the baby we lost, and minimizes the ENORMITY of carrying a baby after a loss.  "I know this one will be successful" and "everything happens for a reason" always gets my goat.... I can't stand it when people claim they they KNOW things will work out this time or that things didn't work out last time for a reason.... UMMMM, are you GOD? Are you psychic? Did you come back from the future to tell me this? NO. Don't tell me that to make me feel better or because you think I need to hear this crap. We don't want to hear your guarantee because NOTHING is guaranteed. Another breath on this earth is not guaranteed. No one knows the future outcome of any situation. NOTHING IS FOR CERTAIN SO WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. If you say it because you are uncomfortable with loss and pain and want to bury it and ignore it, then you shouldn't be having this conversation to begin with. Or if you really want to say something supportive find another "go to" phrase like "I'm here if you need me" or even "I know it must be difficult and scary going through another pregnancy, I'm here if you need to talk". That one is awesome in my book!

Trust me, we KNOW how lucky we are for this next baby in our belly. We are appreciative in ways you can't even imagine. HOWEVER, all of our feelings of appreciation, love, thankfulness, and even gasp JOY can be smothered and even snuffed out by FEAR of losing this new baby in our belly and the following:

Women who have suffered a loss and then achieve another pregnancy have been robbed. Robbed of precious things that can never retrieved or bought back or reclaimed. We've been robbed in some of the worst ways a person can be robbed.

*Robbed of the life of our child/children we lost.

*Robbed of the joys of pregnancy. 

*Robbed of the innocent joy and sharing that couples can enjoy with each other without the huge black cloud of fear, traumatic memories, and shared pain.

*Robbed of connecting with your baby without the constant fear of another loss at EVERY SECOND of this pregnancy. 

*Robbed of a pregnancy free of a previous or many previous losses, subconscious and sometimes conscious defense mechanisms trying to wean there way into this innocent space and protect us against further loss/trauma/pain. 

*Robbed of sharing the news early, joyfully, and without hesitation.

*Robbed of being able to shop and plan early. 

*Robbed of experiencing a birth that is untainted by the thoughts and feelings of another experience with another child.

*For many of us this was a loss of "firsts". First baby, or first boy, first girl, all the firsts of that pregnancy that was lost. We can never those "firsts" back in a successful subsequent pregnancy.

Even after our rainbow baby is born healthy, alive, and kicking, everything we experience with that baby is tainted with the memory of another who could have been. NO, we can't "get over it" or "forget them" or "move on" because the memory is always there. It's like telling us to remove our brain or have a lobotomy. It can't be done.... or undone. No amount of appreciation, no immense gratitude for having a healthy baby, no amount of unconditional love, can make it ok that our other baby/babies died. But that's for another post.

So if you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering what the hell was wrong with you during a subsequent pregnancy when you weren't elated and were super cautious- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world judging you for having post partum depression after a rainbow baby is born- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world minimizing the presence of the child you carried and the impact the loss of that baby had on you and your partner- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering why you are still grieving and having difficulty parenting any other children because of depresssion, anxiety, grief, sadness, insomnia, etc.- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering why your rainbow baby didn't automatically heal your relationship with your partner (or God, or anyone else for that matter)- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Hopefully I've been able to verbalize the great injustice done to those who suffer loss and are trying to build their families and raise some awareness for those who are lucky enough to never have to experience pregnancy loss. If a friend or loved one is having difficulty in a new pregnancy after a loss, keep your expectations, ignorant comments, and observations to yourself. Don't try to placate them, or relate to them, or tell them empty things you think they want to hear, and don't feel you have to try to keep it "light". Recognize that this is hard and that this isn't your run of the mill pregnancy. Many of the comments from others that bring pain are not said with that intention. But PLEASE be aware of the things that come out of your mouth when you speak to someone who has gone through/is going through ONE OF THE WORST HORRORS a person can experience. I'm still appalled when I hear someone's early miscarriage disregarded  and blown off as "well, your body took care it early before it had some horrible defect" or "well, it wouldn't have survived anyway so why are sad" and the oh so comforting "well, be glad it was an early one so you can get back to trying". Do any of those sound comforting? NO. If you don't feel that babies are babies unless they are born, or five pounds, or "perfect" then don't be put in a situation where you will be speaking to a woman after a loss. Or just keep your mouth shut! If you can't earnestly offer support with no tone or hint of condescension, DON'T SPEAK to the woman who suffered a loss. I personally would rather have NO SUPPORT from a person that is going to inadvertently say the wrong things and cause more pain. 

This is not something I ever had the emotional capacity/energy at the time to confront. I regret that now, of course, because they've probably hurt others after me just out of sheer ignorance. Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm seeing it as a different person now- a person not in shock, a person not reeling from trauma, a person not trying to just keep the peace and make others comfortable, a person that wants to advocate for others who may not have the emotional capacity/energy to confront this right now. 

I've been at many different parts of this spectrum and I've heard it ALL and dealt with many different types of ignorance and lack of insight. I've had more early miscarriages than I count, some most people don't even know about because I didn't want to deal with all the wrongs things that are said/done, and my hubby and I decided it would just be easier to deal with on our own. That's pretty sad but that's how it is. We lost our first child Ian, second trimester loss, sudden, unexpected, back at a time when I had very little knowledge and was VERY naive. I've suffered through two INTENSELY HORRIBLE pregnancies with cerclages. How can I look back at a successful pregnancy and categorize it under "horrible" you ask?

^Because I had a harsh lesson in "there are no guarantees" and I went through every possible thing that could go wrong so that I wasn't blindsided again.

^Because I haven't forgotten the overwhelming FEAR, SADNESS, and SHEER TERROR that I felt during every.single.second of every single pregnancy that if I coughed, sneezed, ate, pooped, peed, had sex, sat down, stood up, bent over, walked, cried, and even breathed, it would cause the demise of this much loved new little baby. 

^Because I haven't forgotten that I had to GRIEVE for the living child that was in my belly at that moment because I had to be psychologically prepared in case that baby died as well. If I wasn't prepared, I'm fairly certain I would have gone off the deep end in some way.

^Because I haven't forgotten the spiritual turmoil

^Because I haven't forgotten

^Because I remember the SMOTHERING and SNUFFING of each positive feeling that can accompany finding out you are expecting- joy, appreciation, gratitude, excitement, sharing, etc.

Society as a whole, needs to be better about validating people's feelings experiences, no matter how negative and uncomfortable, in general. Fuck taboos. We are HUMAN. It's in our nature to share, to try and understand each other, and to gain knowledge. WE CONNECT AND HEAL BY SHARING, whether we are teaching, learning, commiserating, sympathizing, empathizing. Sharing that leads to understanding and healing CANNOT be successful if there is judgement, pre-conceived notions, egos, disrespect, pity, ignorance, and expectations involved.  Among many other things. Shit happens to everyone. All kinds of shit. This is just the particular shit we have had to deal with. Ignoring it, burying it, spinning it, and trying to change it is helpful to NO ONE. 

So there is it. The first topic that was discussed from here, COMPLETE! If there is another from that list that you want me to address next, please let me know.

Please provide feedback even if it's one word and anonymous. Let me know that you here reading, please. I need to know that things I say and feel are meaningful and that it reaches others in some way. Thanks!!


  1. I'm afraid to post comments, because I'm so in the dark about what you've been through.. Thank you, Melanie, for beautifully expressing your loss and giving people so much insight and support. Being in your presence when you went through your loss in PA was humbling, and I am glad you were here with us <3 No words really suffice, so ~I love you~

    1. Oh! I almost forgot. I do plan on eventually posting about my experience miscarrying up there and how/why we decided to go up there knowing I may miscarry etc. I'm not usually a believer in things "lining up" like that but I CANNOT IMAGINE going through that particular miscarriage alone, which is what would have happened, had we stayed home that holiday. I needed my SISTER for that particular experience. You guys turned a horrendous experience into something special between us that just fortifies are small family bond even more. That was my first and by far my worst early miscarriage and I can't help but believe that it worked out that way for a reason. Thank you for encouraging us to come up there and being so incredible throughout the whole holiday. I will never be able to thank you for how well you handled my feelings before it started and then the emergency itself, and with N up there too, oh my! I love you guys :-)

  2. Hi Camille :-) I'm always embarrassed when I post here because you are a WRITER and I'm SO NOT. LOL. I have always had such trouble getting my thoughts onto paper and then arranging it coherently so that it comes across how I want. I really struggle with it, particularly when I speak about this stuff. For instance, this post took me hours. I envy those than can type it all out and hit "publish" just like that! So this has been a daunting task and I'm flattered by your compliment. I want to be one of those bloggers that finds it easy and therapeutic to write their thoughts, feelings, and history every day but I don't know if that is possible for me. At this point I want to make sure I keep up with it enough to help out those who may be going through it or need to connect. I feel compelled to get as much as I can out there and I'm hoping that will motivate me long term to keep up with this. And comments/feedback of course :-) Thank you for reading and stopping by to drop a line. I love you!

  3. sometimes messy, stream of consciouness blogs are the best! I fetl a lot of pressure to have a 'good' blog at first too. and to have perfect grammer. and be positive. and blog every day. but the truth is, you have to keep in mind that the #1 goal is to blog because it helps YOU! if you just 'be yourself' other people will pick up on that, read, enjoy, adn learn from you!

  4. Thank you for the encouragement! LOL, the messy stream of consciousness blogs always end up so LONG and I wonder if anyone will ever have the patience to sit down and read my bumbling but you're absolutely right, it's the fact that I feel better having it out there that matters. Thank you for everything :-)


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