Friday, 24 January 2014

The Pregnancy **After** The Pregnancy After Loss

A lot is written about pregnancy loss and almost as much is written about pregnancy after a loss. I've done quite a bit of writing about it here and on various other pregnancy loss blogs, grief blogs, and on BlogHer about this very subject and I've done a bunch of reading on the topic as well. I suppose you could say I've become a bit of an expert on the subject. Not that this a subject that anyone wants to know intimately, but sadly that's how things have happened for me.

We hear about the shock and horror of the initial loss and the complete and utter devastation it leaves in it wake. We cheer for these women as they struggle to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and put the pieces back together.

We read about their subsequent pregnancies with trepidation. We leave encouraging comments for them and wish them all the best. We wait with anticipation for them to be blessed with their rainbow babies. Those amazing and precious babies that come after a loss. We are so relieved for them when we know that they have finally had their "happy ending."

But what about the pregnancy after that?

I've just begun to navigate my way through the pregnancy after the pregnancy after loss. I wasn't expecting it to feel any different than my previous pregnancy, but it does. Last time around my experience was that every time I get pregnant, my baby dies at 36 weeks. I had no other alternative in my head. My only experience of pregnancy was of tragedy and loss.

I now know what it feels like to have experienced both sides of the coin. One pregnancy where my baby died and my life was shattered. Another pregnancy where my baby was born alive and healthy. One ride home from hospital with empty arms crying into my husbands chest. And another pregnancy where I rode home with my beautiful daughter and struggled to figure out how to get the car seat to latch into the car.

Last pregnancy I was "sure" that things would go wrong. This time I'm more hopeful. I'm less fearful. I'm able to think ahead and start looking for double buggies (strollers). Not to buy one of course, because that would be tempting fate. But at least I've allowed myself to do the research. You have no idea what a big step that is. If you've been around for a while you will remember that I didn't allow anything in my house for Frostina until after she was born.

It's not all goodness and light though. I certainly haven't reverted back to the person I was during my first pregnancy. The person who just knew that once I had my 12 week scan and all was well that I was for sure going to be bringing home a healthy baby in the end. I know all too well that there are no guarantees in life.

I know full well that even if you are a Baby Loss Mom, you don't get a free pass for all future pregnancies. One of my fellow BLM's just had her baby after her rainbow baby and it was not all smooth sailing. She had some complications right near the end that nearly resulted in another terrible loss. If it weren't for her absolute insistence that something wasn't right, and her brilliant doctor who followed her gut, things may have ended badly. Thankfully, all is well and she was able to take her beautiful daughter home with her.

I have a 50/50 history with pregnancies, which is much better than the 100% fail rate I had last time. I know those odds still look pretty grim to those of you who don't live in a world where babies die. But from where I'm sitting they offer hope. I have now lived the happy ending, and I want it again. More importantly, I believe I can have it again. That's a huge mind set change from last time around.

I have no idea if I will feel this way throughout this pregnancy. It's entirely possible that as Baby Oleo's due date approaches, all the old fears and paranoia will return. All I know is that this pregnancy is different than the last one, and I feel differently about it. It will be interesting to reflect on just how different it is as time goes on.

Have any of you been through this? If so, how did you feel during your pregnancy and how was it different than the one before? Oh, and what do you call the baby after your rainbow baby? Are they a rainbow baby as well?


  1. We lost our first child at 16 weeks. We found out we were pregnant just 3 months later which meant the new baby was due just 2 weeks after we lost the first.
    I can't say we weren't excited or happy to be pregnant again because as unplanned as it was we were thrilled. But to say it was a joyful pregnancy would be a complete lie. Every new feeling, slight discomfort even cough had us both in panic mode. This was the early 90's and not a subject most people talked about. We were fortunate to have found a support group called Empty Arms but even that was very limited. Our families didn't know how to talk to us. It seemed everyone around us was pregnant and so happy ~ we just couldn't get there.
    I was as sick during this pregnancy as I was with the first which had me out on disability (I worked for an incredible company w/incredible benefits).
    Terms like Rainbow Baby and even the idea of telling your children about your earlier losses just weren't the culture. To this day my Em has no idea there was supposed to be a baby before her. How would I tell her as the reality is had we not lost that baby she could/would never have existed

  2. I, too, was able to look. I even bought the second stroller seat... but not until later. And it remained in the box. In fact, I took it out yesterday. Still nervous.

    I look forward to reading about your journey of a second rainbow. Hoping it all goes smoothly, of course. Hoping, hoping, hoping.

  3. We only have one rainbow, so I can't comment on what I'll be like during the pregnancy, but I hope I'll be able to feel more joy than I did with Gus' pregnancy.

    The term I like is double rainbow.

  4. I was just thinking about all of this. I had a loss, then a rainbow baby. And I was considering how I would feel if I was pregnant again. Would I be just as nervous the third time around? Would I be as diligent of monitoring and extra progesterone shots? Would I be more relaxed and confident? I think I would feel just as you do, where I would still be wary, but know I have one take-home baby in my history. This would be easier, but still a challenge.

  5. I'm nearing the end of my second post-lost pregnancy. This baby will (hopefully) be arriving in the next four weeks or so.

    I can say this pregnancy was easier in so many ways that my rainbow pregnancy was not. For example, I am so distracted by Grace that I don't have the time to focus on my loss of Jack. that's a blessing, for sure. I still worry like crazy, knowing I'm not immune to loss once again. I know both sides of this coin too, and I prefer the shiny happy side. It's just hard not to worry about the "what ifs" and be anxious about them. The shiny side's a little tarnished, ya know? :/

    Hoping this pregnancy is smooth sailing.

  6. Thanks for sharing. I lost my firstborns a few months ago and am hoping for that first pregnancy after, but somewhere in the back of my mind I'm still hoping for a big family and thus multiple successful pregnancies...

    I like the Double Rainbow idea, like when you see a smaller rainbow inside a larger one. But maybe then each baby is one Rainbow, and together they make it double? No matter the name, I hope the journey to your second rainbow goes smoothly.

  7. Saw a link to your blog on Melissa's blog. I recently had my second rainbow and experienced many of the emotions you described. The fear was there but the hope was much more tangible. I wrote about it here
    Best of luck to you as you navigate this new, but familiar, path. Hoping it ends with the happiest of outcomes

  8. I hope this is another successful pregnancy for you. I'm 12 weeks (after 1 miscarriage, 3 failed adoptions, 5 more miscarriages, and then 1 amazing living 22-month-old daughter), and I feel much the same way you do. I'm a little bit less high strung this time around and a little bit more optimistic but still terrified and still not sure I'd let the crib be set up before Kiddo is born. I'm still very aware that just because everything is fine at this moment, it doesn't mean everything is still going to be fine in the next moment, and I don't talk about the pregnancy very much. I'm going to a large party on Friday and there will be a lot of people there who would be thrilled to hear the news, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

  9. Sending you prayers that this is another successful pregnancy. xo

  10. I'm here as well. Pregnant after raibow baby. Reading your post I just realised I had written nothing about my not so new pregnancy... I'm feeling very different this time around, not naive, not desperate, something closer to acceptance. Acceptance that very little depends on me regarding the outcome and this gives me something close to peace... I'm expecting a boy however... All the best of luck to you!