Pregnancy after Loss/ Waiting to Exhale
It feels like just a moment ago, that day I learned my last pregnancy was no longer going to result in a baby I’d meet. I remember the weather, (a sunny, perfectly warm but not yet sticky hot, end of July day). My outfit (not worn since, even though I loved those earrings, they will sit in the drawer until some distant day in the future when I can bear to throw them away). And the clinic (not my usual one because it was a rush appointment). The haunting, heavily-accented voice of the male tech saying, “Its very small, can we do an internal?”
Valentines Day. February 14 2018. I should be nesting, readying my body and house to welcome another baby. In a way, I guess I am…but not the baby I thought I’d be meeting in February.
The months following my miscarriage were terrible roller coaster. I was still nursing Finley when I got pregnant the second time, and the loss resulted in the end of that time as well. The hormonal adjustment of not being pregnant or nursing for the first time in nearly 2 years was difficult. I felt like a shell of myself on most days. Driving to work, but not knowing how I got there. Tears streaming down my face, not a clue why. Mad at my husband, but wanting him to stay close. All the feelings, all at once. Too much.
Just when I felt like myself, I had a familiar feeling of nausea. Granted, it was the week before the launch of Lark & Lux, so I chalked it up to anxiety. Monday rolled around, launch successfully behind me, but the tipsy tummy remained. A back-of-the-drawer pregnancy test showed pink immediately, but I refused to believe it, even laughing it off to my sister in law while I drove to buy a more reliable test on my lunch break at work. Her OB sensibilities knew those tests are rarely wrong, but she indulged me.
A few hours of hand-shaking, mind-spinning, full-body anxiety until I could share the news with my husband. The first time we shared 'oh shit' tears of joy, the second time we shared 'oh shit that was fast' nervous laughs, this time, it was just an unspoken, 'oh shit, this is scary.'
Worry doesn’t come close to describing how I felt for the entirety of those first 90 days. Thankfully, I puked nearly everyday. Every bladder-threatening wretch was a sign that something was happening in my body. Last time, I barely felt any different. This time, every bathroom break was a heart-racing, breath-holding, teeth-gritting, check the toilet paper, opportunity for positive affirmations- whew, not this time.
And then I had my first ultrasound. In the same clinic. With the same tech. In the same room. Too much the same. Same cold jelly on my belly. Same silence, screen turned, deep breathing, furrowed brow. "Hurry up already, fuck man. What's taking you so long?" And then the words, “It's very small, can we do an internal?” Every ounce of composure I had mustered for that day, left my body via my eyes in a gush. The tech was understandably confused, and offered to get the female nurse to be present in the room with us. I declined, thinking I couldn’t handle another human see me come apart at the seams. While I waited, pantsless, on the paper table, I ran through an epic saga of life-changes I would make if this pregnancy was also a loss. I was boarding a plane to Bali, ready to take a yoga teacher training and open a sanctuary for abused women, when the tech returned.
I think he felt guilty for the trauma from earlier, because he immediately turned the screen to show me the heartbeat flickering away. Again, I released a fountain of tears, utterly confusing the man even more. After not nearly long enough watching the most beautiful 4 chambers I’ve ever seen, I was dismissed, print out in hand, wishing desperately for a large glass of wine.
Pregnancy after loss is fucking hard. I’m so aware that everything could be going wrong inside, while on the outside I still look and feel pregnant. Try as I might to keep the worry at bay, I’ve been so cautious with buying anything for this baby yet, just to be sure. But are we ever really sure? Not until that baby is here, in my arms, will I be able to breathe a sigh of relief. And we all know, that's only the beginning.
So this February, while one part of my heart mourns for the baby we didn’t get to meet, the other part of my heart, and belly, grows somehow bigger, ready to welcome another little human into our lives. I’m ready to watch my body change. Watch my husband become a dad again. Watch my first baby become a big sister. Watch my dog slowly come around to the idea of another tiny person pushing her down a notch on the family hierarchy. Until then, deep breath in, exhale. Repeat.