Does Getting Past the Point of a Previous Loss Matter?

I’ve been ruminating on this question lately, now that I’m 15 weeks and rapidly approaching the 18-week mark at which our daughter died last year.

At our prenatal appointment this week our doctor (whom I generally love!) said something she’s said before: “Oh, it’ll be great once we get you past 18 weeks!”  I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly it feels like a lot of pressure — as though I should suddenly be OK once we get past the point at which our daughter died.  I know she was just trying to be encouraging, but I couldn’t help but hear some of that pressure in her comment.

18 weeks is not magical.  Getting past that point doesn’t guarantee me a healthy pregnancy with a complication-free full-term birth.  My pregnancy will still be high risk.  I will still be at risk of placenta-related complications, even the same complication (placental abruption) that I experienced in my first pregnancy, which is actually more common in the third trimester than the second.  I also think that I will be particularly nervous for at least a month or two after I hit the 18-week mark because of how I experienced the sensation of movement in my first pregnancy: I had just started to feel my daughter move, then didn’t feel anything for a few days, and chalked it up to the inconsistency of those first flutters in the second trimester.  I’m told that it’s a totally normal experience — it just so happened that in my case, it happened to actually coincide with the death of my daughter.  As a result, I suspect that the weeks in this pregnancy when the sensation of motion is weak and inconsistent will be particularly nerve-wracking for me.

But on the other hand, I find myself really looking forward to passing 18 weeks.  I’m excited about being more pregnant than I’ve ever been before.  I also feel like it will help me bond with my son a little more, since I’ll have started to know him longer, and with more detail in his movements and activity levels, than I did with his sister (there’s also some guilt associated with that idea as well, but whatever — I will only ever have had one first baby, even though she died before we got to meet her).  I’m looking forward to getting to know our son through feel rather than just through ultrasound.  And I’ve been putting off some planning tasks until we get past that point — I haven’t yet signed us up for prenatal classes, or started on the baby to-do list that has been sitting idle since last September.  We’ve got things to do!  Making wills and deciding on guardians and making decisions about car seats and cribs and and and… I haven’t been able to make myself do any of it yet.  I’ve been thinking about it more often recently, with a certain amount of excitement, and I think that once we get past 18 weeks I might finally be emotionally ready to face it all.

So for me, at least, getting past the point of our previous loss both does and doesn’t matter.  I know it’s not going to be a magical moment at which everything is suddenly better and I get my first-pregnancy optimism back (ha).  But at the same time, it will be a very personal milestone, and I think it will mean something important in my relationship with my son.

Has anyone else made it past a previous pregnancy milestone?  How did it feel to you?


10 thoughts on “Does Getting Past the Point of a Previous Loss Matter?

  1. xykademiqz

    I am here to say that there is a whole bunch of things you really don’t need to do. For instance, I never went to prenatal classes; I moved at 7 months with the 1st baby and they wouldn’t take me for prenatal classes at either place; obviously, class or no class, the baby came out anyway. 😉 With subsequent pregnancies I figured it’s pointless to do the classes, because I’d already done the whole thing. I did go tour the hospital just so I’d know where to go and such.

    There is really very little that is absolutely mandatory to have done before you deliver. You need a place for the baby to sleep, some clothes and diapers/wipes. I come from a culture where nothing for the baby is bought or set up until the delivery is all done, in order not to jinx things; we had literally nothing organized until the 1st baby was born, and then DH set up the crib while I was in the hospital.

    If organizing things helps keep you calm, I don’t want to discourage you. But, if feeling like you have to do all this organization and it’s stressing you out, I am here to say that you can forget about nearly everything (wills, guardians, nursery painting, everything) until after the baby is born (or until you are comfortable admitting that the baby is here to stay) and you will be totally, totally fine.

    Parenthood is the greatest exercise in humility, and in learning to go with the flow.

    Sending best vibes to you and your beautiful boy!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks so much for this — it’s an important reminder that there are only a very few things that really *need* to get done, so I should only do as much as (a) is necessary and (b) makes me feel better. Trouble is, sometimes it feels overwhelming and like I’m jinxing the pregnancy, and sometimes I get excited and want to do all the planning now! We’ll see… I think I just need to prioritize based on what things actually need to get done before the baby arrives (choosing and buying a carseat, figuring out what the baby will sleep in even if we don’t set it up ahead of time, and a few clothes). We’ve had tons of people offering us hand-me-down clothes (benefit of being one of the youngest faculty members at my school!), so we don’t even really need to do much on that front other than actually going to people’s houses to pick stuff up.

      Childbirth classes… I go back and forth on. I had such a chaotic and unprepared experience having labor induced and giving birth to our daughter that I am really, really motivated to be more prepared and knowledgeable this time. Also, I have no idea the extent to which my first experience with labor and delivery was normal, versus the bizarro-land wackiness that characterized the entire experience surrounding the death of our daughter. I’m pretty sure delivering a dead 18-week fetus is a very different experience than delivering a live full-term one, but I don’t really know in which ways, and understanding that process better will help me feel better about approaching labor and delivery again (which I am honestly kind of dreading since it was so thoroughly traumatic the first time). On the other hand, I really, really don’t want to go to a stupid, chirpy class with lots of stupid, chirpy first-time pregnant women who haven’t even considered the possibility that their babies might not come home alive and whose biggest worry is that they might poop during labor. I know I’m not being fair, and that odds are that at least some of the other women in my L&D class would probably also have experienced infertility and/or loss… but I’ve heard from other women pregnant after loss that the chirpiness of L&D classes was sometimes a distressing experience for them, which has made me shy away from the idea.

      Anyway, we shall see, but all that was a long way of saying that I really do appreciate the reminder that there’s really not a lot that is *essential* to preparing for our baby’s arrival, and that infants just don’t need that much stuff, and that we can also do things after we know the baby has arrived safely. These are things that I need to remember.

  2. Jennifer

    Congrats on 15 weeks! I can totally understand why the comment put some pressure on you and I can also understand why that may also feel like a big milestone. I have the same thoughts sometimes “if I can make it to 28 weeks…” and then I realize that someone who has had a full term loss will never feel comfortable. And yet, while I know all the things that can go wrong in pregnancy from beginning to end I still long for the two weeks before Thanksgiving when I will be in the 3rd trimester. At this point I long for anything past 24 weeks 6 days but my no means will I breathe easier when that time approaches. I’m sure I’ll find something else to worry about. I hope you are doing well and am so glad the pregnancy is going smoothly so far!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Yes — I knew you would get it. And yes also to the point about how a person who has experienced a full-term loss will never feel comfortable or have that experience of being more pregnant than they’ve ever been before. Congratulations on being so far along yourself! I’m so glad to hear that things are going well for you so far — here’s hoping we both have lots to celebrate come spring!

  3. andthewindscreamsmary

    I lost my first pregnant at 19 weeks, and I don’t think getting past that will ease my fears. I just feel like the farther along I get, the higher the stakes get. I think it will feel good to get past 19 weeks and I am looking forward to getting past that stage and experiencing “new” things but, as I told my MFM doctor last week, the fear won’t go away until I am holding a healthy happy baby in my arms.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Oh, I so recognize that feeling, and you’ve put it so well — that the farther along you get, the higher the stakes get. And yes, when I mentioned this interaction to my mom, she also said I should gently remind my doctor that I’ll still be nervous after I’ve passed the point of my first loss and won’t really relax until the baby is here alive (and maybe not even then). I’m so glad that things are going well for you so far, and I’m hoping really hard that they continue to go as well for the rest of your pregnancy!

  4. My Perfect Breakdown

    First, congrats on 15 weeks!
    Second, I so wish you weren’t enduring this. But I think you are very practical and rational about the idea that some good things will come of passing your 18 week milestone. But I also think it’s very reasonable to recognize that your worries will not magically disappear just because you reach that date and in fact some anxieties may increase (i.e. his movements).
    I say, try to enjoy the good moments when they happen. And try not to get lost in the worry when that happens. Your pregnancy, no matter what week you are on, is going to be hard, and great and scary and exciting and terrifying no matter what you do to prepare yourself, all you can do is hope, I guess.
    And, just remember, I’m here hoping for and with you! Sending you lots of love. 🙂

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you for the congratulations on passing 15 weeks! 🙂 I am trying so hard to follow your advice and enjoy the good moments as they happen and not get lost in the worry when that happens. They’re so intertwined — sometimes I worry and worry and go get checked out and then sometimes I get the pleasure of watching our little guy wriggle around on the screen and the relief that washes over me when I see him alive and well is almost palpable. It’s really been a roller coaster. But it helps so much to have you following along and cheering us on!

  5. newchancesnewhope

    I am so with you on all these thoughts! It does bring a glimmer of optimism but also no reassurance whatsoever! I’ve just written a very similar post. Glad to see all is well with you albeit with some anxiety – I’m right there with you! xxx

  6. dandisnow

    I did feel a little relief after getting past the point of our miscarriage and entering the second trimester. It could be a little different since the causes of death for early losses like ours was are uncommon past the first trimester.

    The scarier milestone for us is 38 weeks (or 37+6 to be exact), and I don’t want to pass it – I’m a little terrified to even think about getting close to it at this point. Hopefully that will change and I’ll somehow be imbued with a sense of calm as time passes (I doubt it, but one can hope).

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know I blog too, but I always so appreciate other people opening this part of their life publicly. It really helps to read things that I so closely identify with. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s