Let the emotions–all of them–wash over you. Surrender into the dark and dreary times. Let yourself fall prey to the grief, the sadness and even the fear. They will not stay forever. But remember to also embrace the joy, even though it may be hard to find. Do not resist your feelings for they are reminding you that you are capable of great love and of great courage.
2. Take One Day At a Time
You don’t have to solve tomorrow’s problems today. All you have to do is focus on the present, not what happened to your last baby (even though it’s hard to not think about). All you have to do is “kill one alligator at a time,” which means take things as they come, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and breath by breath if you have too.
Our breath is an amazing thing. It connects the body, mind, and soul. It’s a reminder that we are alive and that we have the ability to find calmness within us. When you are having a tough moment, and anxiety, fear, or sadness is consuming you, just take a minute to focus on your breath and see what happens.
4. Stay Away From Google
Google is the worst! Okay, maybe not the worst. I love Google when I can’t figure out how to fold a fitted sheet, need a recipe substitute for allspice or want to learn the lyrics to the newest Taylor Swift song, but for pregnancy after loss Google is a nightmare. Whatever you do, do NOT Google it! Call your doctor, check in with the nurse, or read your baby books, but do not Google! It only makes the anxiety and the fear worse.
5. Create a List of Affirmations
This affirmation is my favorite: “It’s a different pregnancy, a different baby, a different outcome!” For someone who used to be a cynic at heart, saying positive affirmations seemed like a joke to me, but once I was pregnant again after a loss and extremely anxious all the time I started my own list of positive affirmations, and they worked! It was one way for my mind to stay “focused on the good” and to relax myself, even if just for a minute, and remind myself with positive truth that, “In this moment everything is okay.”
6. Try Relaxation Techniques
PAL moms and research both agree that relaxation techniques are a lifesaver during PAL. What I found to be helpful was reading about and listening to hypnobirthing recordings or browsing YouTube to find progressive relaxation or guided imagery videos to help lull me into a calm state. Other ideas that worked for me were using essential oils, specifically lavender smells on my pillow at night and taking warm showers before bed. The more relaxed I got the better! Oh, and don’t forget about prenatal massage and yoga; if you have a little more time and money, both are definitely worth the expense.
7. Speak Your Mind
It’s okay to advocate with your doctors on behalf of you and your baby. This is your baby, your body, and your life! You are the expert of yourself. Trust your intuition and remember that right now you know your body and this baby best. If you are concerned about something, you have every right to be heard by your doctors and health care providers. If they don’t listen, remember there is always more than one doctor out there, and you should find the one who listens to you and advocates for your baby and your health.
8. Celebrate Each Day
This one is hard! It’s scary to embrace hope again after experiencing such a devastating loss(es) in the past. You want this baby so much, but at the same time you are scared to death to attach because you fear this baby might die too. That is where courage comes in, and mama you are courageous already just by taking the leap and giving pregnancy another chance. So remember what Nelson Mandela said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Celebrate what you can, even if it’s just that you made it one more day with this baby.
9. Know “Whatever it is, You are not Crazy”
Pregnancy is HARD! Pregnancy after loss is HARDER! There are times when you might feel like you are going crazy! You feel fearful, your hormones are all over the place, you have flashbacks to what was with last baby and worry what might be with this one. You have trouble sleeping, or you say words like, “if” instead of “when” when talking about baby’s arrival, and people look at you funny. Well, f’em. This journey is HARD with a capital H – A – R – D! You signed up for a rollercoaster no mom wants to ride. You deserve to hear the words, “Whatever it is, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!” Pregnancy after loss really is this hard, and you have what it takes to make it through. I promise you that.
10. Try to Connect with your Baby
This one does not come easy for some. When you are ready, and if you can, try to connect with THIS baby. Do some kick counting, sing to babe, talk to baby, or just give your belly a rub. Whatever small act of nurturance you can give yourself and baby is enough. Connecting to this baby might seem scary but what helped me was to remember that if I connect or not to this subsequent pregnancy and child and then lose it, I would still be devastated; so I embraced the fear and loved her anyway, knowing all that I could lose.
11. Grieve and Remember Your Child that Died
The reason we are pregnant again after a loss is because of the loss. We fall into this shitty situation because we experienced the worst thing that can happen to a parent: our baby died. While you nurture and bloom with new life remember that it is okay to take time to remember and grieve your child that died. Also remember that by celebrating this child you are not betraying your child that died. Both children need their mom. Both children love you. Parenting both is okay during this pregnancy after loss.
12. Get Support
Find other moms like you! Both research and other PAL moms say that the best help they received during a subsequent pregnancy is from moms who have been there, moms who have lost and then made it through the journey of pregnancy after loss, and have come home with a living baby. Connect with these moms. Find a PAL mom friend online (check out PALS Facebook support groups), in-person, or just by reading other PAL mom’s stories on blogs. The more you hear the stories of hope from others who have been through the tough journey, the more it seems to help to get through it yourself. Remember some of the most powerful words to hear in a time of struggle are, “Me too!”
13. Find a doctor/midwife who supports you
It’s so important to feel supported by your doctor or midwife. You need a provider that will encourage you to call and come in for any concerns. You may also want a referral to a therapist or support group to help you feel extra supported during your PAL. You can stay with the same doctor that you had during your loss, or you can switch to a different provider. They will understand either way. They’re invested in YOU and want the best experience for you and your baby.
14. Join Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS)
For this article we asked PAL moms and members of our Facebook page what was most helpful during their pregnancy after loss, and the majority agree! Joining PALS online support groups, following our Facebook page, and reading our blog has been a helpful, supportive, and free way to connect with other PAL moms without having to leave your bedroom or get out of those comfy maternity leggings. Oh, and ALL are welcome here at PALS. We look forward to supporting you during this difficult journey of choosing hope over fear while nurturing grief during your pregnancy after a loss.
The above list was compiled from responses by moms like you, going through a pregnancy after loss on Pregnancy After Loss Support’s Facebook page. To connect with this community ‘like’ their page here.