{ THE MIND F*%$ } PREGNANCY AFTER LOSS

{ THE MIND F*%$ } PREGNANCY AFTER LOSS

{ THE MIND F*%$ } PREGNANCY AFTER LOSS >

I struggle daily with feeling such pure happiness and such dark, heart-wrenching grief simultaneously. It’s an absolute MIND F*%$, to put it simply. It’s exhausting, it’s confusing and it gets harder and easier all at once. I am now 23.5 weeks in and in a GREAT headspace. Of course I still have my moments, and there are so many triggers that lead to totally shit days, and weeks. However, the amazing baby kicks and tricks I am experiencing for what feels like 24/7 (since 11 weeks!), and the MIRACLE of pregnancy, has NOT been lost on me. This little man was our one and only healthy embryo, after six months of IVF. He was our first and only transfer and I believe with my whole heart, he will arrive safely in my arms in about 16.5 weeks (please come on your due date like MG, Froggy!). Today I really wanted to share a small insight into my { PAL } pregnancy after loss journey. I’ve touched on what’s changed this time around, coping mechanisms and sources of support. Motherhood can be challenging even on the ‘good days’, but it’s all about perspective and mindfulness. To all my fellow angel mummies who are carrying their rainbow babies – this one is for you. 

“The strongest person in the world is a grieving mother that wakes-up and keeps going every morning” – Tara Anderson

{ OUR LITTLE FROGGY BOY AT 20 WEEKS }


S O ,  W H A T ‘ S  C H A N G E D ?

I have to say, I’ve truly surprised myself in how I’ve felt and continue to feel this time around. I’ve been remarkably calm, positive and hopeful that this story will have a very different ending – a happy one. Obviously I had over a year to prepare and fantasise over the moment (and 10 months that follow!), of when we learnt we were finally pregnant, but nothing or no amount of time can really ever prepare you.

I’ve described much of the last 1.5 years as a blur and it has been. However, it hasn’t been until I’ve experienced some of the big milestones in this pregnancy (now 23.5 weeks), and for me personally, that I’ve seen just how far I’ve actually come. How far I’ve come with regards to healing, but also getting my headspace back to a hopeful and healthy place. My pregnancy and birth with MG couldn’t have been more textbook, and Charlotte’s was the most horrific nightmare I could ever have imagined. So, here I am for round three! I would be happy just to find somewhere in the middle of both my experiences, but I’m actually closer to where I was with MG, than last time. I think this is a combination of hard work and healing, but also still having faith in mother nature and the universe’s plan for us and this baby – even though it totally fucked us last time. 

I’ve connected with so many amazing mums who have also experienced stillbirth and a pregnancy/live birth to follow, and for me they have been the BEST ongoing therapy. While my friends and family are supportive and patient with me, this MIND F*%$ that I talk about can really only be understood by others who have lived and breathed this – pregnancy after loss. I often get messages and emails from other bereaved mothers, but also their friends and family seeking help and guidance. They don’t know what to say or do, and while our journeys after loss all differ, we all wake-up and go to sleep with a part of us missing… OUR CHILD. I’ve published a few posts with my advice on what not to say and what can be helpful, so today’s is no different. Just because we are pregnant with our rainbow baby, doesn’t mean we’re now ‘over’ the loss of our other child. It can be an INCREDIBLY stressful and scary time, as we all know what can go wrong. Please don’t stop checking-in with your friends and even behind the happiest of smiles, we are still so broken. 

{ 20 WEEKS PREGNANT WITH FROGGY }


P A L  &  W H Y  I T ‘ S  D I F F E R E N T :

HOW YOU SPEAK – I often find myself using ‘IF’, not ‘WHEN’ – eg. “if everything works out”, not when. Perhaps it’s for slightly superstitious reasons or that I feel it’s rather presumptuous, OR that’s what I did last time and ‘WHEN’ never came. This shift in wording isn’t even really a reflection of how I actually feel, but it’s my heart overriding my head. It’s a way of protecting myself, even though I know you can’t. See, here’s that MIND F*$%… Ugggh, it’s exhausting!

PLANNING AHEAD – Until recently, I wasn’t even going to have a baby shower. Again, there’s a fear of planning and hoping for the future, after a traumatising and life chaning event occurs. That’s what I did, I was a planner – a minor/medium level control freak, even. I learnt on Jan 4th 2017 you can’t control shit, but that fire still burns strongly within me. So? This time around I just plan ever so slightly ahead – next week, the next scan, and so on. Each time it gets easier, but I’m essentially retraining my brain how to think and cope. I can be quite the cynic, but there’s a little dreamer and idealist inside of me too – and I’m unapologetic for this. Why shouldn’t we assume everything will be ok? Why can’t I plan my baby shower from the second I find out I’m pregnant? Hello again, MIND F*$%…

WALKING THE SAME PATH – I mean this literally, not figuratively! I am back seeing the same OBGYN that I had for MG and Charlotte – Dr Lionel Steinberg. This was a scary enough concept, adding on top of that all the triggers. These triggers included: where I parked my car and the path I walked the day of my 20 week scan on Jan 4th 2017, what I wore that day and in all the pictures that were taken up until that point, what cafes/nail salons I frequented while pregnant with Charlotte – just to name just a few. There is still one café I have never stood foot in again, as it’s where I spent 97% of that pregnancy – EATING SMASHED AVO! My IVF doctor is also located in East Melbourne, and I couldn’t bare to park anywhere near I did on the day of ‘the scan’. It physically made me sick, as do all my scans to this day. For all my earlier visits to Lionel for Froggy, I parked on a different street, I walked on the other side of the road and did everything (ritually), different. It wasn’t until my big 15 week scan that I had the confidence to WALK THE SAME PATH. I remember walking the exact path from the hospital to my car, that I did the day of ‘the scan’. I wanted to prove to myself I’VE GOT THIS! I wanted to show Charlotte how far I’ve come, and make all my three children proud – because it’s THEM who come first.

Another example is the dress I wore for Charlotte’s pregnancy announcement (below), which after Jan 2017 had be thrown into the bottom of her nursery cupboard with disgust and hatred. For MG’s third birthday I got the courage up to wear it, as we were also announcing to a lot of our friends that we were 15 weeks pregnant. Of course, THERE ARE NO RULES, there is no right or wrong way of grieving and moving forward, I just take it day-by-day and have been pleasantly surprised so far. I thought I would be scanning every three minutes, seeing Lionel every other week, but I haven’t needed to. There would also be nothing wrong with it, if I did do all this. WHATEVER WORKS! Once you take the pressure and expectations off yourself, you are free to live – actually live.

{ 15 weeks pregnant with Charlotte – November 2016 }

PHOTOS & PREGNANCY POSTS – I have definitely held back in this department, for the same reasons as above… FEAR. Fear they will be taken away from me again, and that they will be images that will haunt me forever. I’ve always been so open with my pregnancy journeys, and I am being again, just for different reasons. Something just doesn’t sit well with me RE ‘normal pregnancy posts’ – like how to manage two kids, what I will do differently this time etc. It’s absolutely all in the back of my mind, but verbalising it publicly is just far too daunting a task. I’m still treading water and at the end of each day, I’m mentally and physically drained. Any energy that I do have goes to MG, and that’s about it! Thank god for crappy TV shows like Love Island, ha. I still can’t even believe I’m watching it… Sometimes you just need to escape the head noise with 60mins of rubbish #sorrynotsorry #whateverworks


S U P P O R T : 

PALS – Pregnancy After Loss Support: Pregnancy After Loss Support’s vision is that every mother and her partner who are experiencing pregnancy after loss is able to find support and connection among both peers and health care professionals who understand and validate the unique and complex experience of pregnancy after a previous perinatal or child death { https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com/ }

Still Standing: Their mission is to help you embrace life for everything that it is, after experiencing the loss of a child or infertility. Still Standing aims to give a voice to grief, connect hearts around the world who have similar life experiences and becoming a resource for friends, family and medical professionals, to know how to support someone enduring child loss and/or infertility { https://stillstandingmag.com/ }

The Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network (Melbourne, Australia): A professional collaboration of psychologists who specialise in conception, pregnancy, the postnatal period, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, infertility/IVF, and the early parenting years. Known for their expertise and dedication to the field of perinatal mental health, they are committed to providing care that is compassionate, non-judgemental and evidence-based { https://www.antenatalandpostnatalpsychology.com.au/ }

LINK & Luna blog: My dear friend Laura Grzelak began LINK & Luna after she tragically lost her first child, Link, in Nov 2016. She dreamt of a life spending days at home with her newborn baby boy, but after Link was stillborn at 35 weeks gestation (and on a full moon which is where the name comes from), her life as she knew it, changed forever. After months of soul searching and trying to rediscover who she was and what her purpose was/is, she opened her online store, – selling handwoven Moses and market baskets. LINK & Luna has since grown to include more products and will continue to evolve as Laura’s journey unfolds. On 18th Feb 2018 Laura and her hubby James welcomed their precious rainbow baby, Finn (Finnick Oscar) into the world! Laura has been such a fantastic support to me, since we connected over Instagram shortly after Charlotte died. I urge you to read some of Laura’s raw and beautifully honest posts about PAL, I’m positive they will bring you great comfort as they have for me on this journey. She also has the cutest Instagram page, ever!  { https://www.linkandluna.com/blogs/news }

{ 23 weeks pregnant with Froggy Boy – massive growth spurt over the last three weeks – for us both! }


SJ x

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