Archive for Pregnancy

Your next pregnancy: To tell or not to tell

One of the scariest parts of getting pregnant after a miscarriage is the fear that it might happen again. It permeates everything, and can be so strong that seeing that positive home pregnancy test may fill you with dread rather than joy.

Hopefully you have a good understanding doctor in your corner (if not, FIND one, ask your friends for recommendations) and a supportive partner.

But still, as the nausea starts to hit and you consider whether or not you can get away with leaving your pants unbuttoned, you wonder–should I tell anyone I am pregnant?

The first impulse is to keep it to yourself. Your conversations about the loss might have been too terrible and painful to consider going through again. Maybe you feel like a failure (though you shouldn’t) or worry you will be judged.

It’s natural for us to want to hunker down with our pain, fight it alone, and try to keep the glossy outside world separate from our grief. Maintaining a zone where you don’t have to think about a loss, where you can escape it for a few hours, is a legitimate reason to keep the information from coworkers or bosses.

But I do think you should reconsider not telling friends and family. Imagine yourself, 25 years down the line, with a daughter in your position. Would you not want to know? To hopefully offer some sort of ear, if not concrete help?

I know some of us have parents who are less than helpful. Our partner’s parents may be worse. But I am a big believer in pain shared being pain halved, and if you don’t let anyone know you are pregnant, then no one can help you in your dark days.

I also want you to consider this: if you knew you only had two weeks to spend with someone you loved–how would you want it to be spent? In secret, in shadow, just between you? It’s possible, and if so, then keeping the knowledge private might be the way to go.

But if you want hope, joy, and happiness to suffuse what time you might have, then let it all out. Greet this new baby into the world with all your heart, make memories, make scrapbook pages, and make a mini-life. You are not going to feel worse because you did this. Your heart cannot hurt any more than it will if you kept it a secret. But you will have had that happiness, and certainly those moments make the pregnancy worth it, no matter how it ends.

I understand the need to hide it. If you read my journal you’ll find I felt exactly the same way the second time around. But in hindsight, and that is what I share with you, I am glad I wasn’t able to contain it and told everyone. Because when the bleeding started, when the tests were abnormal, when I had to be on bedrest, crying, sure another baby would be lost, I had help. I had books, I had phone calls, I had caring. And me and that baby were surrounded with love, and that’s the best way to go out of this world.

The Flutter of Wings

Sometimes amazing things happen to remind us that we really don’t understand the machinations of our world. I often think of the line to Josh Groban’s song “To Where You Are” that says:

Isn’t faith believing all powers can’t be seen?

Yesterday my almost-five-year-old (countdown to the big day–seven sleeps!) and I attended a baby shower for her preschool teacher.

One of the games involved each of the kids suggesting what Ms. Lindsay should name her baby boy.

The children mainly chose names of male classmates or dads or brothers. A few provided gigglers–Star, Sunshine, Happy Feet. One future class clown offered up “Poo.”

Elizabeth’s turn arrived. She seemed confused about this, and the teacher asked her if she needed more time. She shook her head, stood up, and said, “Matthew.”

My heart seized. She knew no Matthews. No cousins or classmates or friends. The only time she could have heard the name in her brief existence would be in Sunday School, where it would compete with the likes of Mark, Luke, and John.

But Matthew is a very important name to us. When we were told Emily was a boy at her sonogram, we chose Ryan Matthew as her name. Naturally she became Emily later when the high risk doctor told us–that’s an odd name for a girl!

When we got pregnant with Elizabeth, we decided we still liked Ryan Matthew but would prefer it flipped. So we called the baby Matthew early on when we referred to her in the womb, until her sonogram revealed she was also a girl.

But of course, Elizabeth was a twin. Her little sibling died and my water broke when I was only ten weeks pregnant. Elizabeth survived, although we had a week or two of uncertainty that the pregnancy would pull through.

We’ve named her twin Emma Hope, but after this baby shower, maybe we were wrong. Perhaps Elizabeth knows more than we do, and maybe, just maybe, some little presence whispered in her ear that morning, and for the first time, without even knowing it, she uttered a name she’d never before heard–her brother’s.

Hormone Trauma

This is a touchy subject, but one I can address more easily in general rather than with someone specific in an email or post. Hopefully some of you out there googling miscarriage and emotional recovery will hit upon this.

Those wonderful female hormones that govern our cycle and turn us into emotional swingers right before a period, in early pregnancy, and in post partum have an extra special role right after a miscarriage–they often get completely out of whack and make our lives hell.

Often when someone writes me in the first two weeks after a loss, upset and angry, wanting to leave her husband, afraid she’s not doing well with the children, and sure that every one of her friends is trying to make her feel worse, I know her body has made life less easy to cope with.

We already are saddled with a lot after a loss: grief, frustration, fear, despair. It’s a terrible kick in the gut that in addition, our confused reproductive system often sends out so many mixed hormone signals that we can’t manage our emotions. In this state, a casual “How are you doing?” becomes a cold-hearted slam. A husband asking, “What’s for dinner?” is grounds for divorce. Can’t they see life is horrible, our baby lost, nothing will ever be the same, and can’t he make his own freaking dinner just once?

What is happening is partly the people around us–most don’t really know what to do or say to a greiving mother–and part of it our inability to process outside stimulus. These hormones literally become a jumbled filter and so much of what we would ordinarily handle perfectly well–a mess on the floor, an abrupt end to a phone call, a comment about our appearance–will become huge issues.

It’s not really our fault. And hopefully everyone will give us the space and understanding we need. We will get better, not because we’ve forgotten the baby or the sadness of our loss, but because our bodies have filtered out these conflicting hormones and now we can think more clearly and organize our feelings into those that bear getting upset over and those we can wave away.

If you’re here, and everything seems upside down and everyone in your life is upsetting you, just take a deep breath, get as much time to yourself as possible, and when the going gets rough, break some small piece of inconsequential dinnerware. You’ll get better. I promise.