Pregnancy after loss often brings a lot of fears and anxieties. Today’s episode is all about the real feelings that happen during PAL and what you can do to manage them.
Amy shares some personal experience and then teaches how to allow the anxiety
how worry is never useful
and how actually going to the worst case scenario and showing yourself that you would still be ok is incredibly empowering.
We also hear the story of little Tyler.
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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
What’s up guys? Welcome to episode 15. We are gonna start with an amazing story from Tyler’s mom. She says, Tyler lived in my belly for 21 weeks and five days until his heart stopped beating. My pregnancy was amazing. Up until 14 weeks when I was told I had an incompetent cervix and was put on bedrest at 18 weeks.
Tyler was a beautiful baby. From the first scan to the first and last time, I held him in my arms. We nicknamed him rib Kicker when he was in my belly, because he literally kicked my ribs all day every day when he was born, we called him Twinkle Toes because he had the most perfect feet. We have made an Instagram page in his honor called Tyler’s Travels, where people send pictures from all around the world with his name and date of birth, 15th of August, 2019, on each picture.
We do this as a small way of our boys seeing the world. He’s sadly left behind, and a way to keep his memory alive. Having the pages given me something to get up for every day, to talk about how loved he is and how missed he forever will be. He was such a boisterous baby in my belly. He would sleep all day and keep mommy up all night.
He would be so stubborn like his mama at scans and cover his face and he would often kick as if to stop the midwife scanning. He would never kick for his daddy unless he played his music to my bumped, and sometimes when he spoke to my belly, Tyler would kick his ashes are in a rainbow urn because he is our little rainbow.
Our sweet boy. Our rib kicking twinkle toes. We never say goodbye. It’s always goodnight. So goodnight Tyler. David, keep shining our bright star. Aw, thank you so much for sending that in. And you guys should definitely check out at Tyler’s travels and see all the amazing places people have sent pictures in from.
It’s so cool and he sounds like the sweetest little boy and I’m so sorry he didn’t get to stay. All right, let’s jump into today’s topic, which is dealing with pregnancy after loss, anxiety. Now, I’m gonna do a lot of episodes on pregnancy after loss, ’cause there are so many different things that come up, but today we’re focusing on what to do with all that anxiety.
First, I need to say that when I talk about anxiety, I’m talking about a functioning person who has fears. If you feel like your anxiety is more than that and you need professional help, please go see your doctor and take care of that. There’s so many ways that we can help. So I’m gonna start with a little bit of my experience.
I got pregnant with my Rainbow baby just a few months after. Lauren was still born at 39 and a half weeks after she died, and we didn’t get to bring a baby home. I ached to hold someone in my arms. I wanted a baby. I knew it was crazy, and I knew it was risky. I knew I probably wasn’t ready, but I didn’t really think I would ever be ready or know when I was ready.
So here is what I wrote in my journal. I am basically having a panic attack. I can’t breathe, and I am terrified. Yesterday at 3:00 AM I woke up and took a pregnancy test. I have been tracking everything and I was a tiny bit late and I had to know I was shocked to find a little faint blue plus sign. I am pregnant again five months after losing Lauren.
I am very conflicted. I wanted a baby and quickly, so bad. I want the girls to get the baby sibling. We promised them, but I am terrified. I’ll lose this one. And if I did lose him or her, after we tell the children, I just don’t wanna do that to them. My husband is out of town, of course, and we talked before he left.
He said he wasn’t sure he wanted to try again. I know he would welcome another child, but the fear of going through loss again is big. Well, I guess we don’t have a choice. I don’t know who to talk to, but I hate feeling so alone and scared. I want to tell people soon, so if something happens, I have support, but I don’t know.
I am still a mess inside. My due date is in April. I hope everything goes well, but I know it will be a rollercoaster and very hard. I will not breathe until that baby is in my arms screaming. I have sincerely prayed for a baby to go in the brand new crib, a baby for my girls to get to enjoy and love and play with, but I know we don’t always get what we want or what we ask for.
So many people pray for babies, but I will keep praying and clinging on to hope that I will not lose this baby. I’m so scared. No one will replace Lauren, but if there is some little one ready to come to our family, I will do everything I can to get him and her safely here. I just have no idea how we will handle it, how the girls will feel, how scared we will all be.
Have any of you felt the same way, that crazy mix of excitement, disbelief, and fear, or maybe you are thinking about trying again and you can only imagine what it will feel like and it seems overwhelming. Those feelings seem big and instant, but if you’ve been following me for a while, you know what I’m gonna say here?
Pregnancy after loss is neutral. It doesn’t make you feel anything. It is a fact. Your baby died one day and you are pregnant. Now you get to think anything you want about that. But for about 99% of us, there is that feeling of fear and anxiety. And since thoughts create our feelings, it’s really important to identify them.
You can see from what I wrote that some of mine were. I don’t want the girls to go through another loss. I don’t know if everything will be okay. I don’t have any control. I will not breathe until that baby is in my arms screaming. That’s a really common one. I see the quote go round all the time.
Pregnancy after loss is like holding your breath for nine months. Is that how you feel? Here’s something I posted on Facebook a few months later. I actually had a hard time finding anything to. Put in here. I really could not put my reality out there for most of that pregnancy. It just felt too vulnerable.
So I said today Lauren would be 10 months old. Things are getting better, but we miss her always. We still have tough days, sleepless nights, tough thoughts, and tough conversations with the girls. We also have many good days, and I’m feeling more like myself lately. I am six months along with baby brother and had a good visit with a doctor today.
Looks like about 12 more weeks to delivery. It has been so crazy and scary and it is hard to imagine him being here with us, but we are trying our best to think positive and I feel like we have a good plan going. Even if I can’t bring myself to shop for him or even enter the baby section yet, I’m grateful for the chance we have to have him in our lives no matter what.
I hope time continues to go quickly as we keep busy and he’s here and screaming. Before we know it, I found a quote and it says, anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. And that is very true, especially in pregnancy after loss. We don’t even let ourselves think about the future, and we definitely want to control it.
So when we are pregnant after loss, we get stuck in this loop. When we are pregnant, after loss, we get stuck in this loop. We are scared because we want our baby to live. We’re scared because we know we don’t have control over it. We’ve experienced it firsthand. Plus, we likely know many other people who have lost babies in every imaginable way.
This is all part of being in this club. We often think that if we just pass certain dates or milestones, then we will feel relief. If we just get to see a heartbeat past 12 weeks, reach, viability, et cetera, that we will stop being afraid. But those things come and go and we are still terrified even after our baby is born there we are waking up to check if they’re breathing because milestones and scans and even a healthy baby don’t create our emotions, you guys.
Nothing can make us feel safe unless we address the real cause. And that’s what we do in coaching. We get to the root and do the work to actually empower yourself to feel better. And for those of you who do have milestones that you pass and you have felt better, the reason why, again is because of your thoughts.
If you had a very early miscarriage, And after you pass that first trimester, you’re able to feel relief. It’s because you have the thought that you’re safe now, which is awesome. And that can happen for people, right? But just remember it is your thoughts, and it’s not that you hit 12 weeks that changed your emotions during rainbow pregnancies.
We don’t allow ourselves to hope or to dream because we are afraid. If we do, it will hurt more if we do have a loss. We don’t trust ourselves and we don’t trust our bodies. And there we sit, holding it all in and trying to pretend we are okay. Dealing with people and their comments, working, parenting, and being all twisted up inside.
And each one of us is different depending on what stage our loss was. If we have living children, the time between the pregnancies, how many losses we’ve had, there are just so many ways we come at this. But I see a lot of similarities in the moms I talk to. But guess what? Pregnancy after loss doesn’t have to be scary.
And the first way to lessen the fear is to be scared. It makes a lot of sense, right? But the more we resist emotions, the bigger and scarier they get, especially anxiety. The more we try to push it away, the more it intensifies. We need to allow the anxiety, bring it with us, recognize it for what it is, call it out.
You can even name it. I was thinking it would be fun to call it Karen, poor Karen, but what if you started noticing your anxiety coming up and said, I see you there, Karen. Or, oh, hi Karen. I notice you’re back. Anxiety is just a feeling and feelings are vibrations in your body. What does anxiety feel like to you?
What if a little bit of anxiety was just part of the deal, how much pressure would that let off? We have this view of pregnancy. Take a minute and think about it. How should pregnancy be all rainbows and daisies and unicorns and a cute bump and everyone gets a healthy, happy baby with the exact birth they wanted?
I mean, of course there’s a little nausea and swollen feet that our loving husband will rub, but pretty much that’s how it goes. Now I’m obviously exaggerating, but for real, I think this is what we think those beliefs about pregnancy exacerbate the anxiety because now we think that something has gone wrong.
We used to be naive and oblivious to all of it. We wish we still were. And yet we also say that we wish we had known. We wish someone had warned us that babies die, but again, None of these things are the problem. Nothing has gone wrong. You went through something. Your brain is reacting to try to protect you in its own way.
It is working perfectly. It is on the lookout for potential problems. It sees them everywhere and it offers you thoughts that create anxiety, but you can handle a little bit of anxiety, even a lot of anxiety. If you allow it, it really will float away on its own. And what if this pregnancy is exactly how it’s supposed to be?
Let’s talk a little bit more about the worries. What are you worried about in your pregnancy? I think it would be pretty easy for us to compile a long list, but we also could just have one thing on the list. This baby dies too. And why is this a problem? Really ask yourself this. It seems obvious, but I wanna push you to think about this here.
The baby living or dying, is a circumstance in our life. What we are most afraid of is an emotion. We don’t wanna feel grief or pain. So again, our brain offers us scenarios to think about all the things that can go wrong while we are sitting there with our baby presently alive. We rob ourselves of finding joy in it as we attempt to protect ourselves from future harm.
Worry always lives in the future, and worry is never necessary. Worry is what I call an indulgent emotion. It really doesn’t serve us in any way, and when we allow ourselves to indulge in it, it doesn’t feel good or create results that we want. Try to think of a time when worrying about something made it any better.
You have to be onto your brain. You have to become aware of what it is doing. And you have to question it. We think that the reason we are scared is because of what happened to us, but that is in the past. The reason we are scared now is because of the thoughts that we have. Now, what if you had amnesia and didn’t know you had lost a baby before?
You wouldn’t have all these fears, even though it is was a fact that you had experienced a loss. A great way to notice these thoughts as you navigate your pregnancy is to do daily thought downloads. Give yourself a little bit of time to look at all the things that are coming up for you now. Definitely don’t judge them.
It’s okay to have these thoughts. Be compassionate with yourself, but just be aware of them. Another way we can manage our anxiety is to take our power back by really diving into the worst that can happen. Go there, write it down. What is the worst emotion you can imagine having to face? What would it feel like in your body?
Really describe it in detail. Stick with the emotion and don’t focus on your thoughts, just the vibrations in your body. Remember, this is what we talked about in the episode about feeling your feelings. What does it actually feel like in your body? Now, think about what you have been doing in order to avoid this emotion.
Why are you working so hard and doing so much to avoid harmless vibrations? And then ask yourself this. What if you were willing to feel any emotion without fear? How might you act differently in your life? What would you do differently? And why? Here is the truth, your baby might die. You can’t control that.
You can control yourself. You can trust that whatever comes, you’ll handle it. You can handle this. I want you to pick a few thoughts that bring it back to now and bring it back to you. Not a mantra that you don’t believe, but simple thoughts that you can redirect back to when the anxiety creeps up.
Here’s a few that I like. No matter what happens, I will be okay. We can do hard things. I am enough. Nothing has gone wrong here. Your purpose is a life you are living now. The universe doesn’t make mistakes. I can allow myself to feel love. I am not my thoughts. Worry serves no purpose. I will carry this anxiety like a heavy backpack.
It’s worth it. It’s okay to be afraid or a mother’s love is the most powerful thing in the world. This is the work to stop fighting and stop resisting this experience. Allow the emotions. Stay in the present. Trust yourself. Two of my rainbow babies lived. One died. I’m here. I didn’t wish for my experiences, but I know they were the right ones for me.
Pregnancy after loss can be an incredible experience. Not happy all the time, but something that can teach you so much. Are you willing to learn? I absolutely love coaching during pregnancy after loss. It is such a special time. That’s why I created a program just for you. If you’re pregnant now or thinking about trying, please sign up for a free session where we will meet and talk about your fears and your hopes and how to manage it all.
And I will tell you about my 12 week program just for you. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I’m gonna help you through every stage in Milestone. You don’t have to do this alone. And definitely subscribe to the podcast because I’ll have more episodes like this touching on other issues that come up while you’re growing a sweet little rainbow, as well as so much more goodness.
I have some special guests lined up and I’m so excited to tell you about them, and just lots of fun. Planned for 2020. You have got this, mama. It’s okay to be scared, but it’s okay to be excited too. I will talk to you next time.