When I first fell pregnant with my son, almost 7 years ago, I took pregnancy for granted. We fell pregnant quickly and easily, there were no hiccups, no drama, virtually no nausea and everything went to plan as if a checklist were being ticked off. So after experiencing 3 miscarriages, to say I was nervous about becoming pregnant again would have to be my understatement of the year.
The thought crossed my mind to just stop trying as the pain was so intense both emotionally and physically. I felt isolated, helpless and couldn’t stand the sight of a beautiful baby bump that belonged to another woman. But after a D&C, almost 3 months of bleeding and another horrifically heavy period, I’ll be honest: I just wanted to be pregnant so the bleeding would just stop. Not the ideal reason, but it was the honest one.
This time was different
So after having been pregnant 4 times already, by the time my period was due I already knew I was pregnant. I didn’t have to do a pregnancy test, I just knew. But I confirmed it anyway as I knew my naturopath would want confirmation. So I did a test the day I went to visit her and sure enough I was. But I wasn’t filled with the hope, joy and visions of a beautiful child like most would expect women do. This time, I was bracing myself saying ‘here we go again’. I was filled with doubts and filled with anxiety.
I wasn’t filled with the excitement of letting people know. I wasn’t filled with how we were going to announce it (though I’m not sure I’ve ever been that way inclined). No, I was being very busy intentionally being very busy to keep my mind from considering the possibilities – one way or the other.
I refused to call my midwife, refused to tell anyone except those extremely close to me and refused to accept the possibility of an actual baby. I was protecting myself and preparing myself for the worst. Quite simply, I was pretending not to be pregnant.
Pretending not to be pregnant worked until I hit 8 weeks. At 8 weeks, the anxiety hit me like a tonne of bricks. I’m not sure if it was because 8 weeks was as far as the previous 3 pregnancies had survived or because I was still a whole 4 weeks off knowing if the baby was going to ‘make it’ by ‘normal’ standards. There was no point getting a scan – the last baby died after a dating scan might have happened anyway – and it was too early to hear a heartbeat on a doppler. I was in a world where time stood still and there was nothing to do but wait.
My beautiful acupuncturist calmed me when I came to her hyperventilating after it all came to a head. She had me tap into my feelings to find out what was going on. And all I could hear within was ‘control’, this was about ‘control’. I was trying to control the outcome by ignoring it. My need for control extended to not calling the midwife, not telling anybody and not feeling anything on purpose.
This was the first time I had truly experienced anxiety. Irrational reasoning to protect myself from what might happen. So I called the midwife the next day to make an appointment and began the process of relinquishing control.
The best noise in the world
At 11 weeks, I finally saw my midwife. And with my husband and 5 year old son, we all cried when we heard the most incredible noise anyone could wish to hear… the beating heart of our unborn child. Hurdle one down, but I was still anxious and not willing to tell anyone. (I’d only told my son in the minutes before we went in to our midwife appointment.)
Next I booked in a scan to make sure everything was ok. The scan was perfect, but I was still anxious until I got the results. The results were still perfect but I was still anxious. I still did not want to tell anyone. I didn’t feel happy, just nervously and quietly confident that we were perhaps on the right track.
So I booked in for a kinesiology balance to finally face my fears.
‘You have a choice’
At that session, my kinesiologist said the words I have uttered so many times myself as a kinesiologist it was almost embarrassing. “You have the choice in how you feel right now”. No matter what the outcome, I could choose whether to be happy and enjoy the pregnancy right now in this moment, or I could choose to be miserable and riddled with fear and anxiety. If the worst happened, it will be shit. No preparation before hand would change that.
It’s funny how your own words out of the mouth of another can have such a profound effect. In an instant I got it. In an instant I understood I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy. And my homework was to do something for the rainbow baby I was going to have.
That may seem easy for many, but for me even so much as looking at a list of baby names or writing in my calendar when I would be 14 weeks was presumptuous and bizarre. But, I had started to shift the anxiety and was quietly building the confidence to be happy about being pregnant.
A strange and difficult thing to say
At 15 weeks, I heard the heartbeat again when visiting the midwife. So I took the plunge and the next day, I began to tell a few people. It was strangely emotional. People were thrilled for me, but I was scared and reserved. It was hard to get the words out, but people understood. I felt silly to be announcing so early, but silly to be announcing so late. At times I felt silly to be telling people at all. There was so much emotion and confusion behind it.
Then I started to show a little bump and I fell in love with my bump. Next I began to feel the baby move. And no longer did I need the ‘fix’ of my midwife and doppler to hear the heartbeat. Now I’m in love with being pregnant. As tired and old as I sometimes feel, this baby is our miracle. All the heartache of the past few years melts away when I feel those little movements of life.
Miscarriages hurt. They suck. And they suck way beyond the time limit between periods or pregnancies. The pain revisits us in sometimes strange ways at sometimes odd times. But I still have a choice. So this is my ‘announcement’. The story of how to I got to this point, 22 weeks, in tact and (almost) in charge of my emotions. I put the anxiety to bed and am out dancing with the possibilities of a family of three becoming a family of four.
It still feels a little weird to love this pregnancy so much when there is a possibility of something going wrong. But I do. Because what’s the point in feeling crap when there’s a miracle blooming inside me? A beautiful rainbow baby miracle.