The book I have recently finished reading is about ‘Pregnancy After Loss’. Most of the stories feature it to some degree.
Now, after Leo died we said that we would try again, eventually. We also said when we were pregnant that we would at least give our two frozen embryos a shot – we couldn’t leave them. So, thats at least what we know we will do.
In reading stories of Rainbow Babies I am given hope. I have hope. I have this seeing to believe thing, and for whatever reason, when I was pregnant with Leo, I really struggled to believe that it was all going to be okay. You read the stories of the anxities of pregnancy after loss, how the enjoyment is taken out of the experience because of fear, and its so recognisable to me, that feeling. Thats what being pregnant with Leo was like, even though he was my first. I had failed so many times at fertility treatment with the Doctors constantly telling me there was nothing wrong – surely I’d fail at this too. Although, I am sure the anxieties of pregnancy after loss are more heightened than what I experienced, I’m just saying that I recognise those feelings.
I attributed it then, and I still do now, to almost three years of fertility treatment. Doing treatment taught me (rightly or wrongly) that its too good to be true is a valid saying. That things don’t come easy. That other people make it look easy, and whether or not it was, people making things look easy – make you feel even shitter about your own failings. Nobody really details the experience openly of failing to conceive. If you delve in online, you’ll find it. But you normally hear of the happy pregnancy news at 12 weeks and if the worst has happened – my most hated phrase of the moment – you tend not to know about it. Which is awful. We should be open.
I never took my pregnancy with Leo for granted. I was always petrified something would go wrong. I remember having a bit of an anxiety attack, and exclaiming eventually to N that what if he is dead inside me and I don’t know – how that haunts me now. I remember thinking at every little stage and milestone, every thing that was purchased, I would take a deep breath and think this is going to be the jinx and I’d start to panic and get uneasy again. I just thought it was my messed up little head.
Maybe it was foresight. Or just fear. I remember never really connecting with the concept of stillbirth though. Obviously, I understood miscarriage. But it isn’t until now, reading blogs, that I’ve fully connected with the birth aspect of miscarriage. I spent a good 16 weeks constantly checking for bleeding, paranoid. I guess everyone does? But for some reason, I always figured it would be a period, but just a little bit worse. And never connected with the rest of it. Denial? Naiviety? Lack of information? Taboo? Silence? Maybe.
So when it came to the point of after 16 weeks or so, and if I panicked about loosing him the reality of what that would mean never really entered by head. I just had this feeling that he would… disappear? That one panic attack about him dying inside of me, was early on in feeling regular kicks and being so utterly paranoid about it. I had another panic attack at work once, I was having a shit day getting all stressed, and someone so innocently asked if he was wriggling around like crazy and which my first thought was No! He’s not! and I just fell apart. It was too early for ‘regular kicks’ but people so innocently ask you questions like that and make you feel awful… It was then that I realised I was trying to ‘get over’ the affects of fertility treatment, the grief that that brings and the anxiety and fear, at the same time of being pregnant and trying to relax and enjoy it.
That realisation did help though. From that point, I did let myself succumb to the notion that this was really happening, we were really going to have a baby and get excited about it. Though, not fully. As the weeks got closer, and I left work, and NCT was drawing to a close – I was feeling a lot more relaxed. The practical side was starting to take over, and I wanted to be prepared. The carseat went in. Pram delivered. Cot was up. Ready.
Reading about Rainbow Babies gives me hope. But I can’t help then get angry again at the appearance of easily getting pregnant again. I’m not for one second diminishing the difficulties that people do have, or the emotional anxiety that it brings, its just that the stories seem to go “Stillbirth. Grief. Rainbow Baby.” with an air of ease and for some reason, seem to skip the presumed anguish of getting from A to B (or at least so far in what I have read) – I just so wish it was as easy. I guess too much struggle in one story would be off putting for the reader.
I know that for us to try again, means potentially committing to the journey of fertility treatment again. Whilst I can see myself falling pregnant I’m unsure if that is real, or if that is just because I have been pregnant before, so its easier to visualise. Frustratingly, I can also see myself miscarrying. Who knows if thats fear, or now new knowledge. It just seems like life is going to give us the full deck of cards before giving us the Ace.
I know I want to try again, the desire to have a baby sure does outweigh some of the fear. After all, I know whats it is like to love someone an indescribable amount, purely unconditionally too. I know we have a world of love to give someone, to nurture and watch someone grow, just like we wished we could have done with Leo. He will always be a huge part of us as people, and a huge part of our family, but that doesn’t lessen the desire to have a living baby. Its just the thought of going through the treatment again. It is worth it, I know it is. Its just emotional and physically draining. You don’t really realise at the time, but looking back, it really is. It has changed us, and reshaped us as people. For good, but not completely. It has bought out an anxiety in me that I never had before. A sense of fear and pessimism greater than before, which debilitates your ability to relax, and enjoy life and take things as they come. Although, this is what I am hoping Leo will teach me – that fear doesn’t change anything. It just stops you enjoying life.
And with the superstitious behaviours pregnancy culture teaches us all? I’d like to say f- it. I could have delved so much more into the indulgent side of being pregnant. I could have shared by 2 weeks pregnancy test results that day. Would it have changed anything? We haven’t ‘got rid off’ any of Leo’s things and its all still neatly set up in his room. If we are lucky and strong enough to have another child, then his hand-me-downs are ready and waiting.
One thought on “Rainbows?”
I feel like I could have written the first part of this. My pregnancy with Matthew felt much like a pregnancy after loss. Not because I’d had a loss, but because I always viewed pregnancy as dangerous. I didn’t go through fertility treatments, but I’ve experienced other things in my life that made me medically aware, extra cautious, caused a bit of pre-existing white coat PTSD, if you will. I knew stillbirth happened – I just thought it was much more rare than, come to find out, it actually is. So although I was worried something like this would happen to me, at the same time, I also didn’t actually think it would.
For awhile I thought that’s why he died – because I knew it could happen. Now, after eight months, I’ve learned enough to know that this tragedy doesn’t discriminate – it happens to those most naïve ones, who don’t know bad things lie within the realm of possibility, have eight baby showers without a second thought. And it happens to those more aware ones too.
I can imagine that the perception of the prevalence of loss, grief, rainbow can compound your already complicated feelings. Have you spent time perusing Glow in the Woods? I know there’s a lot in the archives, including many stories of people going through that process in a much less linear way, including many who’ve done fertility treatments.
Sending you big hugs, mama. xoxo