Some A’s for the Q’s

The past few months since our son was born, I’ve gotten a couple questions asked that I thought would be good to address on here as well.  Having a child after pregnancy loss tends to color the world just a little bit differently, and seemingly innocuous questions may end up being more awkward than intended.  So, here’s my perspective.

Is this your first?  

I have gotten this question at the pharmacy, Wal-mart, walking on the trails, at the car service place.  Just about everywhere.  It comes up right after “Oh, he’s so cute!”  And it’s usually a stranger who doesn’t know my story.

Even people who do know my story refer to Sam as my firstborn which is a weird conundrum.  Because he’s technically not.  I literally gave birth to two precious girls in the hospital.  But they were stillborn.

I know this has been a problem for several pregnancy loss moms because this comes up on the forums at least once every 6 months.  We want to honor our children who passed away, but somehow, it’s controversial to do so.  And awkward.  And we don’t want the other person to feel bad for asking such a simple question.

Basically, I say, “I had two stillbirths before having this one” and leave it at that.  Sometimes it opens up the most beautiful conversations, sometimes it doesn’t.  But that’s okay.  (I know that for some moms this is really hard to talk about, especially around anniversaries.  So if you don’t mention your other kids sometimes, that’s okay too.)

Are you going to have more children?

I was dumbfounded the first time this topic was brought up because I hadn’t even physically recovered from having my son yet!

The short answer is not right now.  We are still figuring out this little boy.  I’m still dealing with postpartum anxiety.  We are taking this life day by day, enjoying the good moments and surviving and learning from the bad ones.

Even if we go other routes to add children to our family, like adoption, nothing is easy and nothing is guaranteed.  And all of it is emotional.  And there is so much more processing and working through my emotions that I need to do.

Do I want my son to have a sibling on this earth (in addition to his two sisters in heaven)?  Yes.  Do I know how or when that will happen?  No.  But I can confidently say not today.

If you get pregnant again, will it be high risk?

So, again, short answer, yes.  Even if I never had pregnancy losses, I am now in the Advanced Maternal Age category, so they would all be a high risk anyway.

But I realize that the question is really, “Is it over?

And the answer is no.  This last pregnancy gave no answers to why I lost my two daughters.  Perhaps it is a gender thing, but it may not be.  The reality is that it could still go either way.  It is another reason I need to spend some time getting emotionally ready if we do decide to try again for another baby.

Of course, these are my answers to these questions.  Other moms could have different answers.  And my answers could change in the future.  I know that these questions come from a place of love, but be careful how you ask and be ready for the mom not to answer.  And I would also suggest not asking complete strangers these questions, but instead just tell them they have a beautiful baby and that they are a beautiful mom.  That’s really the best thing you could do.

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My Experience with PostPartum Anxiety

I waited five long years.  Through miscarriage and stillbirth, I finally gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  I crossed the finish line.

Or so I had thought.

When I reached that finish line, I looked up and saw I had several more laps to go.  And, guys, I was exhausted.  Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally.  Not even considering the following weeks of sleep deprivation and hormonal letdown.  Anxiety was still present.

But I chalked it up to the baby blues.  I waited until the hormones leveled out more or less.  Michael took the night shift so I could get more sleep.  Even after that, I still had those nights when those thoughts wouldn’t leave me.  The thought that wouldn’t let me sleep.

“Your baby is going to die tonight.”

It was terrifying.  I would be up every hour checking on the baby, even if I woke him up.  And we knew that this wasn’t sustainable.  Even during the daytime naps, I was constantly checking to see if he was breathing.  In those moments, it was as if he knew because he always seemed to kick or sigh in his sleep when I looked over at him.

There were other issues as well.  I didn’t trust my intuition.  I was convinced that I was going to hurt him in some way.  Was I feeding him enough?  If his head fell forward or fell backward unexpectedly, was I forever damaging him?  I felt like he was safer in other people’s arms than in my own.  And I wasn’t bonding with him at all.

So, I talked to my therapist.  She told me that all of these things were quite common in a lot of pregnancies.  Bonding with the baby wasn’t going to be instantaneous, just like falling in love with someone happens slowly over time.  However, my PTSD from losing my girls was definitely playing a part, and after I talked to my OB, I got some medication to help.

And it has helped.  It doesn’t make everything perfect, but it quiets the thoughts and gives me a chance to learn to trust my gut.  And I’m bonding with the little guy more and more each day.

There is this pressure to enjoy motherhood.  To soak up every second of every day because it goes by so fast.  And because I have waited so long for these moments, the pressure feels even greater to appreciate every second.  I love my son.  And I look forward to the snuggles every day.  I even think some of his cries are adorable (and when he sticks out that lip, I just want to snuggle him).

But I have to take care of myself.  I need to make sure I’m as healthy as I can be so that I can take care of him.  Post-partum anxiety is real and nothing to be ashamed of.  And it’s not forever, so for now, I will just take each day as it comes, giving myself grace, and be grateful for the support and love that surrounds me.

DFS: Week 35 and Some Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head

I know that I’ve been anxious through most of this pregnancy, but this week just seemed to hit a peak.  The place I struggle with it the most, which I mention a little bit in my video is putting this nursery together.  There are so many memories I have of working on registries and the nursery in my other pregnancies, and I think that kind of tipped the scale this week.  I can literally walk into the nursery, look at everything in there, and experience a complete creativity block having no idea what I want it to look like.  I know it will come together eventually, so I’m just taking it one step at a time.

DFS: Week 33 and The Calm After the Storm

This week, other than the ultrasound appointment, there isn’t much to share.  As far as my stress levels, I have good days and bad days.  While in most pregnancies, women can breathe a sigh of relief after a certain point, my stress just seems to get a little higher.  With the umbilical cord placement and the fact that they still don’t have any idea why my other two pregnancies ended the way they did, all I can do is take each day as it comes with faith and the knowledge that God isn’t leaving my side anytime soon.