Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: pregnancy after miscarriage

How Far Along Are You?

early pregnancy testWhen a woman discovers she is pregnant, the inevitable question is immediately asked.

How far along are you?

I will say that we had known for weeks before we shared with a few select people and waited even longer to share with the rest of our close friends and family. Some, were kept in the dark longer. I really enjoyed keeping the secret and once it was out, it was a bit disappointing. The pressure also began. The pressure to be farther along than I was so that this baby would matter if this baby died.

The constant question “how are you feeling?” by the people who knew brought on the anxiety but the question, “how far along are you?,” would stop me in my tracks. I had to think about it for too long. Sometimes adding days or weeks to the gestation, just so the baby would mean something to the person asking.

It’s an innocent seeming question but for someone experiencing pregnancy after a loss, this is a loaded question. In all honesty, it feels judgmental.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are “really” pregnant.

I assure you, there was a second line on the test, I am pregnant.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are far enough to in the safe zone.

There is no safe zone.

How far along are you means, is the pregnancy far enough to be a considered a baby yet?

It was a baby from the moment of conception (for me anyway).

How far along are you means, you are trying to legitimize my feelings of grief should this baby die too.

My grief is legitimate no matter how far along I am.

How far along are you mean,s that the farther along I am, the bigger the baby, the more worth the baby has.

My baby has worth no matter how small or early he/she is.

As I get bigger, how far along are you, takes on a different meaning.

I am closer to delivery yet still not quite there. Will I make it with the baby alive?

I know the question, how far along are you, seems innocent. It seems like an inquiry and a supportive question but it’s not. It’s loaded, it’s dangerous.

Because if I lost the baby, I will have lost everything I have already dreamed of with her. Yes, her, because I imagined the baby to be a girl. So I have already seen pink and purple, flowers and butterflies, protective big brothers, dancing and singing, a love of reading, nurturing of a girl, bringing out my girly side, dresses for her baptism, communion and wedding. And, I have even imagined her children. Oh and yes…her name.

Call me naïve, stupid, crazy for even beginning those thoughts but it’s impossible not to. It’s impossible to pretend the baby, her future, doesn’t exist or will never exist. I am already in love. Her father and brothers already love her. And if she turns out to be a boy, we will love him too, just the same. So if this is only an “inside baby,” this is what is lost. It will hurt. It won’t hurt because of how short or long I was pregnant. It will hurt because I have loved and lost.

So when you ask “how far along are you? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. Because I am pregnant and I love this baby.

This is pregnancy after a loss.

Labor Block

I was having a conversation over texts with my doula. It was about how I haven’t had this baby yet. Currently, I am 39 weeks and have never been pregnant this long before. How weird considering I haven’t made it to my due date yet. People at work are beginning to wonder. LOL. Anyway, the conversation was about the “labor block.”

What is a “labor block?”  A labor block basically delays the onset of labor due to some fear OR stalls a labor that has already begun due to some fear. The fear can be over anything. For me, this relates to my miscarriage…at least I think so. Many women can experience a labor block. I have seen it happen numerous times over fears they have. One woman completely stalled her labor because she had an abortion over 10 years ago and felt she didn’t deserve this baby. She was 5cm and in the throws of labor yet on her mind was a baby she aborted over 10 years ago. It was almost impossible to get her out of this fear so she could continue with her labor but with processing things, she was able to move on and had a healthy baby.

Personally, I am not feeling like I don’t deserve this baby. I am still waiting for that “inevitable ball” to drop. You know, “we’re sorry, something happened.” I also fear there is something wrong with this little one. It’s a fear…based on nothing except the pain and devastation I experienced years ago with an early miscarriage. I can’t believe I am this far along and still fear that something is going to happen. It can and does but it is very rare.

I feel him move all the time…not constantly but many times throughout the day. As I write this, he is moving around, kicking the top of my uterus, shaking, etc. It’s such a relief to feel it because I know he is still with me but there is still a little bit of disconnect between us. It’s the connection that tells me intuitively that he IS still there. The connection I feel is merely physical. I must also have an intuitive connection. You know, the one that tells you your son or daughter is still alive when they have been missing for years? THAT connection.

I have that connection with Joey. It’s a spiritual/intuitive connection. WHY is this connection missing with this new baby and HOW do I get it? Will it come when he is in my arms? It needs to come now because he needs to be born. He needs to feel that connection from me and I think he needs to feel it before he will come into this physical world. So how does one create such a connection in such a short period of time? I don’t know, but that’s what I am working on over these next few days.

Bonding – FINALLY!

I spent time with you today. It was the first time I can think of this pregnancy where I REALLY spent time with you. I had an extremely busy day, preparing meals for after you are here and I was super tired. Your daddy was so nice and drew me a bath. He helped to inspect my swelling and was just as surprised as I was that my legs were quite swollen from standing 12 hours making food.

He was so loving and drew me a nice warm bath. It smelled wonderful as he added some oils to keep my skin moist. After he drew the bath, he asked if I wanted candles. It was still sunny out so I opted not to have them. He then kissed me and left the room for me to relax, alone.

I turned on my pregnancy affirmations and listened to those. I repeated many of the affirmations out loud, especially the ones that talked about you being normal, pregnancy being normal, and giving birth easily and comfortably. I also repeat out loud that this is a new birth and a new baby! I need to repeat that one the most because it helps me to have less fear about our upcoming day.

Following the affirmations, I turned on some relaxing music. As I sat in the warm bath, I looked at my large, still growing belly. I could feel you moving around inside me but as I lay my hands on my belly, I could feel your body parts. I could feel your legs, your butt, your back, your knees, and your feet…all at different times but I could feel them. I watched as you rolled and kicked around, making waves not only on my belly, but in the water we sat in together as well.

I listened to the music and just took deep breaths. I began to imagine what you would look like outside my womb. I sent you love and affection and began massaging your body. You usually move away when I touch you but this time, it was different. This time, it felt like we were actually bonding. I began to wonder if you would like massages outside the womb.

We continued to listen to the music together, all the while, I breathed deeply so you could have lots of oxygen and just massaged my belly and your body. I would sweep over my belly and stop on a body part and slowly massage down and out. I imagined you closing your eyes and soaking in the touch. It felt so good for me. I also imagined all the positive hormones surging through my blood and into you. You and I were completely connected. I didn’t want to stop, even as the bath water got cold. So, I warmed up the bath water and went for a few minutes longer.

As our bonding session came to a close, I began to feel sad. I was sad that soon, this experience will be over. Soon, I will not have you safe in my womb. My belly will become flabby instead of being hard and full of life. You will be on the outside which brings great joy but also brings a tremendous fear of all that you will be exposed to. You, in the safety of my womb will no longer exist.

I am getting more and more excited as each day passes. I am counting down each day and I know that soon, we will get to meet each other in person. Your brother is wrought with excitement and tells you every day that he can’t wait to meet you. He wants to hold you, he wants to hold you in church, he wants to carry you with him as he receives the sacrament of the Eucharist. He is excited to show you off, as if you are the most prized possession in this world. You are still inside me and yet have huge shoes to fill.

You are my son, a beloved son. We can’t wait to meet you!

 

Why Must I Worry?

It must be because I am no longer working and have more time to chat on my forums but today, I ran across a post from a worried expectant mother and she now has me worried. Ugh! I seriously shouldn’t worry about this as there is nothing I can do. This goes back to an ultrasound I had around 19 weeks.

The perinatologist found a fluid pocket on my baby’s brain. She assured me it was normal and even went so-far-as to tell me that if it wasn’t there, they would be concerned. She didn’t label it as any “soft marker” or anything abnormal. I was referred to go back in 4 weeks because we were unable to see a bunch of the baby’s parts because of positioning. On that ultrasound, the fluid was still there (may have been slightly smaller) and again, the perinatologist (a different one AND his student doc) did not show any abnormal findings. His report stated baby was “normal.”

So, this girl posts today that her baby girl was diagnosed with a “choroid plexus cyst.” I wanted to look it up in hopes to find something positive in order to help her. While much of the information was positive, I noticed the pictures of this cyst look just like the fluid pocket in my baby’s brain. No one ever stated that the pocket was a choroid plexus cyst. So, naturally, I am worried, even though most of the information was positive. Well…positive in that if I was under 35, this would probably mean nothing.

But…there is no information out there that discusses this finding in a mother who is over 35. All the research states that “in the absence of other soft markers, a choroid plexus cyst alone does not signify a genetic abnormality.” Plus, much of the information is confusing. Some say the cyst means Trisomy 18, others say the cyst means Trisomy 21. Both of which are very different. What I know of Trisomy 18 is that most babies don’t survive in-utero and are stillborn or are miscarried. Survival at birth is rare and a baby with Trisomy 18 doesn’t live very long.

Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) has a survival rate and while a diagnosis of Trisomy 21 could be worse, it’s not something anyone is prepared to hear or face. While my baby hasn’t been diagnosed as anything but “normal,” I am still worried. I didn’t do any of the genetic testing (all the numbers would be higher anyway since I am older) and I didn’t want an amniocentisis. I could still have some testing done but I only have about 7 weeks left so why worry for 7 weeks? Ugh!

I just need to leave this in God’s hands which is so hard for me sometimes. I did my best to reassure this mom that the likelihood that her baby is normal is very high but I can’t seem to reassure myself. Plus, why didn’t my perinatologist mention that this was a Choroid Plexus Cyst? Why did my doctor state this was normal when only 1% of baby’s have this cyst? Is my baby normal? Bottomline…pregnancy after miscarriage is full of worry. I don’t want to say that pregnancy after miscarriage sucks, but man…it’s hard not to say it when all you do is worry about every sign, symptom (even lack of symptom), scan, test, etc. 🙁

Pregnancy Viability

bellyWell, I have made it past the 24 week mark. I prayed and prayed to make it that far but does it really mean things are safer? I ask this question all the time. I am actually 27 weeks 3 days now. I feel my baby all day long which is great but I still have the fear that something bad will happen.

My feelings were validated the other night at prenatal yoga. One of my classmates has had a loss before and we were all talking about our fears for the week. The first was…it is finally becoming real. Weird huh? Considering we are both over 27 weeks. The belly is big, it’s getting harder to do things, lots of movement, etc. Anyhow, she also mentioned that in addition to it feeling real, she is also waiting for that ball to drop.

I know exactly how she feels. I too wonder if something bad will happen. It’s only natural to feel this way after a loss. I have had to stay away from many of my loss boards because of this. It’s easy to read stories about early losses but then there are the losses that are much later in the pregnancy and it just makes me worry that I will experience a late loss as well. A cord accident, uterine infection, premature labor. Ugh! The fear never seems to end.

While there is much fear, there is a growing excitement as well. This is so real. The baby’s room has a crib and dresser in it. It’s painted. We are decorating it which is so much fun. Joey is super excited, often grabbing my belly, rubbing it, talking to his sibling, and telling me that “it’s getting HUGE!” I also love that he says I don’t look fat. He is such a great kid!

I tell Jason daily that I can’t believe we are at this point and that I can’t believe we are doing this again. It is such a wonderful journey and I feel like I am taking better care of myself this pregnancy as well as soaking up every bit of it. I know that once I get to the last month or so, I will probably wish it were over but as of right now, each day is blessing. Each day my baby grows stronger, I grow stronger, and we both nourish each other. There is definitely a bond now. One that I thought was missing for months.

I love this baby and I can’t wait to meet him. 🙂

Pregnancy After Miscarriage Continued

Week 19

I hear it is absolutely normal for women who have had a loss before, not to really bond with the baby. I was told the response is a defense mechanism; one that is supposed to protect from the severe devastation and grief experience of another loss. I can understand that but does my mind really think that if I lost this baby, I wouldn’t experience grief again?

Each day is both a challenge and a blessing. I am excited and happy to have another day with this baby growing inside me yet it is challenging because I feel guilty that I am not bonded to this baby. It’s as if the baby isn’t really inside me; like the baby isn’t really there.

I have been feeling the tap, tap, tapping of this little one for over a month now so I know the baby is there but I feel so detached. I am excited and just want to meet this little one. If only that day would come faster. If only each day went faster so that it would be warm and I would be meeting my new baby.

We had an ultrasound last week. Not much was revealed. The baby was turned and basically sitting cross-legged with arms folded across the baby’s chest. With that, we couldn’t see the heart, spine, face, kidneys or parts of the arms that needed to be measured. What we COULD see, measured normally which was good but I felt no reassurance that my baby was okay.

The next day I nearly had a panic attack that something was drastically wrong with my baby. Was the baby stuck in the position? Was the baby choking on the placenta? After all, the placenta was in the baby’s face, smooshing the baby’s nose! Was the umbilical cord too short? Was the fluid in the brain normal? There were so many questions that I just didn’t have when I was with the doctor.

So, I emailed the doctor that performed the ultrasound and she provided the reassurance I needed but still, the back of my mind is driving me crazy! Will I ever feel safe in this pregnancy? Does this get any easier? Is this going to spread into the postpartum period? Will I always wonder?

I have no idea the answer and I work every day to put all this worry and anxiety into the Lord’s hands. It’s not like every second I am worrying, it’s more like I am not thinking about the baby. This is so different from Joey’s pregnancy. I didn’t ignore it, I was “IN” it. I don’t even know if that makes sense.

I go back to the doctor in four weeks to have the baby re-examined. Hopefully, we can see everything we need to in order for me to feel everything is normal and okay. Although I am reminded by my mother-in-law that my niece’s scans and tests were all normal yet she was still born with a genetic disorder. I pray I have the strength that my sister-in-law has in order to care for a child with a genetic disorder should my baby have one. Becky and Nick are very strong and I don’t know how they do it.

For now, I will continue to do my best to eat well for this baby, exercise for this baby (something I didn’t do with Joey’s pregnancy), pray for this baby, and work hard to love this baby from the outside in.

Pregnancy After Miscarriage

I never thought I would be in this position. I am now over 16 weeks pregnant with my rainbow baby. Its exciting and scary to say the least. I think I have gotten through the hard part though. I also haven’t blogged since we made the announcement so I will back up for you a bit and talk about all that has happened.

The first trimester started out very easy. No bleeding and it was like I wasn’t even pregnant. Then 7 weeks hit and I began to experience extreme nausea. They kept saying that it was such a great sign. They said that meant my pregnancy was a healthy one. I never experienced this before. My son’s pregnancy was a piece of cake so this was completely new territory to me.

Within 2 weeks I could no longer take it. I wasn’t eating much, if anything at all and I was feeling so horrible. I hadn’t vomited but the pain in my stomach and nausea was getting to be unbearable. I messaged my doctor one night asking for some anit-nausea meds but by morning, I was too sick. I went to work but had to leave early. When I got home, I went straight to bed. It was Halloween and I felt horrible because this is one of Joey’s favorite holidays. I had hoped within a few hours I would wake up and feel better but instead I was worse.

I texted hubby in the middle of trick-or-treating with Joey and told him I needed to go to urgent care. On the way out the door, some neighbors saw we were leaving and offered to take Joey for the night. They were our angels. We had no idea how long we would be gone. At urgent care, I got some good meds for the nausea but there was pain in my stomach that would not go away. They gave me meds for that but no relief. I had a fever too so they sent us to the hospital.

Nothing changed at the hospital. More of the same meds and then they sent me home. At follow-up the next day, my OB sent me for an abdominal ultrasound which showed an issue with my gall bladder and liver. Ugh! I was put on a diet of plain bread, rice, pasta, chicken. That’s it. How boring and not good for a growing baby. Eating this way didn’t bring much relief. I still wasn’t hungry. After a week or so, I began to feel a bit better and the pain in my stomach was subsiding. I resumed eating what I felt like, when I felt like it. I was always nauseated, it didn’t matter what I ate.

By week 12 I was beginning to get nervous. We were to have Thanksgiving dinner and I really wanted to eat what my mom had cooked. I managed to eat tiny bits of each dish and didn’t feel sick. I also woke up to bright red blood in my underwear. I tried not to freak out as I had no bleeding or spotting at all throughout the pregnancy so far. I called the doc, but it was Thanksgiving and I was in another state. Rest, drink water, and keep an eye on it. Luckily, it subsided by the afternoon. I assumed it came from all the traveling.

By week 13, my nausea was almost completely gone and I began to feel hungry all the time. It was nice to finally be eating but then I would over eat and feel sick. I had to manage my tummy and realize that it was much smaller from the lack of food over the last 3 months.

It’s been 3 weeks and things are going much better. I have had a few bouts of spotting which we discovered was related to vaginal exams at my OB’s office. I advised them there would be no more exams until I was pushing the baby out!

I have seen my baby 5 times and the baby is growing perfectly. I bought a doppler so I could listen any time I wanted. It’s been a great reassurance. I was able to find the baby at around 12 weeks but it always took a while to find the heartbeat. Now it’s simple to find the baby. I go in for another ultrasound in a few weeks. This is the big one. We could find out the sex, but we don’t want to. I guess we shall see what happens.

We have had virtually no testing, no genetic testing, and no other scans to look at the baby other than measuring for growth. It’s a little nerve-wracking but I knew my tests would come back skewed because I am older and I didn’t want to be the woman stuck with a false positive freaking out the entire pregnancy. Been there, done that. No thank you! So, we are living on faith that everything is fine with the baby.

I feel the baby move every day now. It’s the neatest feeling. I remember it with Joey but not ever feeling it this early. I feel the little flutters and rolls. It’s also reassuring that everything is ok.

I have had no desire to blog or journal about this pregnancy which has me worried. I know it’s probably my bodies way of protecting itself from the pain of another loss. I am definitely not as attached to this baby as the last two but feeling the baby move helps tremendously. It’s like the baby is saying, “Hey, still here mom!” I love it. I am trying hard to talk to the baby as well. I want this baby, but I am still scared. I signed up for prenatal yoga so that will also help and I get regular massages that help me relax and focus on me. I am definitely providing more self-care with this pregnancy.

Well, that’s the update. As soon as we get our scans from the 18 week ultrasound, I’ll post the pictures. The only picture I have is of a tiny baby that looks like a peanut from my 12 week scan. The next scan will look really baby-like. I can say that baby has nice arms and legs and I saw brain in the 2 hemispheres during the last ultrasound. I pray every day for this pregnancy to continue.

Subscribe to this blog!