It doesn’t matter when you lost your baby, the last few weeks of pregnancy after loss is extremely difficult. Aside from the normal gripes from the last month of pregnancy, the anxiety rises once again. In our local pregnancy after loss (PAL) support group, we’ve seen it time and again. You pass the gestational age where you lost your baby, you feel some relief. You can feel joy and feel like this is really going to happen this time. Pregnancy doesn’t always end in tragedy. But the closer you get to labor and delivery, the closer you get to the desired 40 weeks, the harder it gets again. Anxiety and fear can, and often do, rear their ugly heads again, and make those last four weeks seem like a lifetime.
And if you lost your baby in the last month of pregnancy, or during labor and delivery, this is the time when things just start to get rough. Triggers abound. A time for nesting and getting excited to finally meet the baby, can bring back so much PTSD. The anxiety can be just getting started for you.
The head game is awful. Trying to stay positive, and reminding yourself that it’s a different pregnancy, with a different baby, with a different ending, but also knowing that the outcome is not guaranteed. And fearing that you could be denied a happy ending… again.
For me, once I hit 36 weeks, I just want the baby out. Let’s take it, when we know the baby is still alive. We know she’s healthy. We know she can thrive outside the womb. Why can’t they just let us deliver when it seems that all will be fine? Why won’t they agree to induce for the emotional well-being of the mother?
Then there are specific things that do not help this anxious PAL mama.
I get horrible insomnia during the third trimester. Being awake in the middle of the night – unable to get comfortable, unable to get back to sleep – my mind inevitably starts to wander. Will everything be okay this time? Will we be bringing this baby home? Should I have bought all that stuff for the baby when she’s not here … not yet anyway.
I try to distract myself by reading something light and funny. But it doesn’t always work. So, then I have to repeat affirmations like: “I have to believe this baby will be born alive and healthy.”
Vivid Pregnancy Dreams
When I can finally sleep, I have some crazy vivid pregnancy dreams. It’s not so bad when they’re funny or just don’t make any sense. It’s when they’re unnerving or scary that gets me. They wake me up, leading to the horrible insomnia.
Fetal Movement Anxiety
Another middle of the night anxiety for me is tracking baby’s movements. Inevitably, when I’m suffering from insomnia, I’m also staying up to pay attention to baby’s movements. I try not to obsess over them, because I know I need sleep too – you can’t track movement 24 hours a day! But it’s almost impossible not to wait for the baby to move, even just a little, before I try to go back to sleep.
When I wake up first thing in the morning, I’m also waiting for the baby to move. I’ve been sleeping for hours so what if I missed something. I just want the baby to move right away so I don’t have to worry about it before getting out of bed!
The middle of the night can be the hardest time of the third trimester for me.
My mind races about so much. In addition to some pregnancy after loss affirmations PALS has provided me with, I also find myself repeating this lyric from the Broadway hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, to help calm my nerves during these times. It seems pretty on point for my middle of the night, third trimester anxiety:
Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you, oh
Don’t you know
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine
And we want you to sleep well tonight
While the nighttime brings time for me to overthink, I do find myself also trying to calm myself during the daytime too, mostly before the weekly appointments. Again, preparing myself for whatever news they tell me at that appointment. I also grapple with my fears about labor and delivery. Aside from just wanting it to be pain free, I don’t want to be presented with any complications I haven’t yet already encountered. I wish they could just tell me how it’s going to go and be guaranteed that is how it will go!
Really, I just want the baby to be born alive and healthy. The last few weeks is when that feeling is the strongest because I’m so close. That feeling is pretty common among PAL mamas. We’re almost there. And we all just want that happy ending.