**Trigger – baby loss. Please be kind to yourself before reading on**
There were many things I wished for after I discovered I was having a baby. A stable home, good maternity pay, an easy birth, even a sickness-free first trimester! But above all, I wished for a healthy pregnancy and the safe delivery of my perfect baby.
I wasn’t so lucky.
Many women like myself face one of the greatest personal tragedies imaginable: pregnancy loss.
This can happen early on in the form of a miscarriage, or, less commonly, after 24 weeks which is known as stillbirth. Either way, loss is always heartbreaking and intensely emotional.
My son was stillborn at 40 weeks. His name was Elijah, and my husband and I buried him a week after he was born. The grief that followed was limitless, and every aspect of recovery was difficult for both of us.
Then six months later, I found out I was expecting again. This time, instead of thinking about good maternity pay or a sickness free first-trimester, I wished only to make it through to the end of the pregnancy without killing my baby – something that felt entirely impossible. I was terrified beyond measure and set myself up for failure.
In my grief I had transformed the way I viewed my body. It was now a poisonous and unpredictable war-zone, somewhere that my new baby would be in danger.
It wasn’t until I saw our second son’s little heart beating for the first time that I brought myself back to life and decided to enjoy and thrive within my pregnancy instead of dreading every day. I took the first step that very day. I acknowledged and accepted that this was a different pregnancy and a different baby. By separating the two experiences, I could move away from fear.
Be Kind To Yourself
I became kinder to myself. This involved eating healthy, wholesome foods, buying new maternity clothes (instead of using ones from the previous pregnancy), taking long baths, having a pregnancy massage and generally giving myself whatever I wanted or needed.
Find The Support You Need
I found a charity that specialised in traumatic pregnancies, births and women’s issues, and met with a lovely support worker once a week at a coffee shop. This informal, supportive relationship allowed me to talk about my worries and fears as they arose. And as for those days when she wasn’t there to offload onto, I allowed myself an hour a day to worry and not a minute more! By allocating this time, I took control over my irrational thoughts and anxieties.
Nurture Yourself, Mind & Body
I bought a relaxation CD and engaged in some daily meditations and tried pregnancy acupuncture at a reputable therapy centre.
Communicate Your Fears
Finally, and I think most importantly, I communicated my fears with my Consultant and Midwife. By doing so, it allowed them to reassure me at every scan, check on me regularly, offer additional support and they even let my husband and I look around the delivery suite once again (even though we had already delivered there) just to get used to the idea of going back.
On the day my second son was born, we were laughing and smiling throughout the birth while listening to our favourite CD. Our birth plan was followed to the letter, we cherished every moment and took several hundred photographs.
I entered the second pregnancy feeling like a failure, but walked out of that hospital nine months later feeling like the bravest woman on earth, with a healthy happy family, and that really is the only thing any of us can hope for.