Pregnancy after stillbirth & multiple losses - anyone else?(17 Posts)
Is there anyone else out there who is pregnant after multiple losses, including a late term miscarriage or stillbirth? I'm currently 14 weeks into pregnancy no 6 - after 1 full-term stillbirth & 4 miscarriages & various failed fertility treatments along the way. Because of my recurrent mcs, it is hard to shake the feeling that there must be something very wrong with me that will cause problems in any baby I conceive (extensive tests have revealed nothing amiss apart from old age - I'm 39). Because of the stillbirth of my perfectly healthy daughter due to a cord accident in labour, I cannot feel reassured by low risk test results or Nuchal measurements or anything. A heartbeat on a scan on one particular day means nothing. No gestational hurdle cleared means I'm any closer to being a mother. You either have a living baby at the end of it, or you don't.
All of this means I can't feel happy about this pregnancy. I feel no joy or delight or relief at scans. I find it ghoulish to hear the heartbeat. Everything about pregnancy and antenatal appointments feels threatening and macabre.
I cannot bear it when well-meaning people encourage me to try to think positively, or say 'I've got a good feeling about this one!' Or 'you're due some good luck!' Or 'I just know it will happen for you!' I can't even stand it when people congratulate me.
I've had a lot of therapy, most of which has been helpful, but I haven't yet found a therapist who can really understand baby loss - and that I'm not just a screaming hypochondriac for being unable to trust in my ability to bear live young, after 100% of my pregnancies thus far have ended in miscarriage or stillbirth.
I would really value hearing from others who are going through this and who may be feeling similarly conflicted and ambivalent. It's very hard to find a place to talk openly about the darker feelings brought on by a high risk pregnancy after multiple losses, without upsetting people whose experiences of pregnancy (even after a loss, or after infertility) are more hopeful and innocent, or who are trying to think positively.
There is a thread in antenatal clubs - I was there for a while early in my pregnancy after stillbirth. It was called something like a cave to remember angels and celebrate rainbows. I found that thread very welcoming and supportive and I'd recommend it
Thanks. I've stayed away from that as I find the angels and rainbows terminology really alienating - I always sense it comes with a pressure to see a bright side, or to have some sort of spiritual belief that I just don't have. But I could have that wrong.
Not quite germane as it has already happened but I wanted to say I had a beautiful healthy 10-lb boy (quite a few years ago now) after a stillbirth and miscarriages. And lots of things in treatment and prevention have greatly improved since then so sending you best wishes and lots of luck for the future.
I was very apprehensive during the successful pregnancy but I was in really good hands throughout and at the end and they did an elective CS, to be on the safe side, after a trial of labour which wasn't really progressing. I was happy with that.
When my first son was stillborn I did feel a massive failure, that it was all my fault, that I'd gone to pieces during labour (but I now realise loads of women do too). I had to have a forceps delivery with loads of trauma on and around vulva/perineum.
So getting past that was a problem. Then I became pregnant again but had a traumatic MC at around 12-13 weeks, it came out of the blue , massive blood loss and D&C.
Then another pregnancy and miscarriage. 8-9 weeks this time. Fourth pregnancy took. I was constantly checking my pants for blood, so it was a very anxious time (and I was huge) .
I was happy to have a CS, as i said, as I was terrified things would go wrong again in labour. DS was, and is, wonderful.
Bipbipp I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter and all your other pregnancies. No wonder you are feeling ambivalent. You really are not a screaming hypochondriac and I'm sorry if anyone has made you feel that you are.
I haven't been through the same experiences but I had a very complicated first pregnancy with twins which, sadly, ended in the death of one of the babies when she was very young. I then subsequently lost another pregnancy and your post really resonated with me especially when you wrote how everything to do with pregnancy felt very macabre to you. It still does to me to be honest. I can't equate pregnancy with anything other than terror and death although I do a better job of disguising the fact these days. It is hard to have a world view that is SO different from the cute pastel picture that is the conventional ideal of pregnancy and babies.
I couldn't talk about my first subsequent pregnancy at all (most people I knew just thought I had put on a lot of weight) and I hated people telling me just to think positively or asking if I felt better that everything was 'normal' this time around. It's so awful when people are making jovial joking comments like 'you are due some good luck' about a subject that is destroyingly heartbreaking in my experience.
I don't know if it might help at all but I found a lot of support via glowinthewoods.com and also the SANDS forum. Particularly the former if the whole angels and rainbows terminology isn't quite up your street.
I wish you all the very best.
Thanks Tartyflette - I'm so sorry for your losses. It's so hard to go through loss after loss after a stillbirth. I'm very glad to hear your second son is healthy.
It's also so dreadful to have had a bad physical experience of childbirth as well as losing your baby. I had to beg for a c section after a very long labour with my daughter - 12 hours at home & then 20 hours at hospital after learning she'd died. And the anaesthetic failed during the op. So lots of trauma all round. It's just unbearably horrible to remember. It was the second anniversary on Tuesday.
And WhistlingWoman I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter and your subsequent pregnancy. Oddly, one of the things I remember thinking in the immediate aftermath of my daughter's death is how hard it must be to have twins in this situation - to be going through that level of grief and shock while also looking after a newborn. You're absolutely right, it changes your worldview. Pregnancy's come to feel like a form of terminal illness to me. It makes it hard to 'bond' with this baby (whatever that actually means) because I have to prioritise my own mental wellbeing, as the likely sole survivor of the experience.
It's also all left me feeling extremely bitter about some of the nonsense peddled in NCT and hypnobirthing classes, and the guilt women can be left with if they don't have a calm, drug-free, 4-hour labour at home with only a bit of clary sage oil on a hanky for pain relief.
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of glowinthewoods - I hadn't heard of it and will check it out now.
Thanks so much for responding.
Bip just to say huge for you.
I miss reading your posts on the other thread. I'm too wrapped around the loo these days to stay on top of things but I think of you all the time.
I'm not pregnant but wanted to post.
My DS2 was stillborn (and my DS1 almost died at birth so I really felt like I couldn't be 'trusted' to make a healthy baby, but I was lucky to get to take him home).
With my third pregnancy I had the same due date as with my DS2! I swear it was like living the year all over again. I was utterly certain it would be the same outcome again. I remember being in hospital the night before my c-section wondering when we'd find out he was dead. It just seemed like a forgone conclusion.
I used to claim I hadn't bought anything for my DS3 as I had it all from my DS1 (plus the things I'd bought for my DS2) but it was a lie. Why buy something when I wasn't getting a 'take home' baby?
I just wanted to rage at people who tried to reassure me the chances of another stillbirth were tiny. Well since we didn't know why my DS2 died then we didn't know if there was a high chance of it happening again, so no amount of reassurances would comfort me. Plus there's just no room for logic. Facts and figures and stories of successful births after loss had no bearing on how I felt.
I'm not one for the rainbow baby stuff either, nor am I religious or spiritual so there was no comfort there.
I wish I had words to comfort you but of course there's none.
Have you tried SANDS? They had next pregnancy groups on their forum which kept me sane in my pregnancy after we lost our first neonatally.
I'm not very good at putting things in to words but I wanted to post about my experience as I know how tough it is.
My first baby was stillborn at 35 weeks. We never found a reason for Our DD being stillborn. I've never felt pain like it to have to give birth and not get to take DD home at the end of it and it took me and dh years to feel ok about trying again. I was so annoyed with my body for "failing"
When we did try again I got pregnant very quickly and although I was happy I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that just wouldn't shift. I felt sick before every scan and the closer I got to 35 weeks I had this over bearing fear it would happen again and I cried myself to sleep many nights. My DS was born fine with no problems at all and the minute he cried and I knew he was alive I can't tell you the overwhelming relief I felt and all the crying, ds is nearly 14 months now and a cheeky little monkey.
Then I got pregnant with DD and again the fear started, I just couldn't relax while pregnant I was scared. Again I spent a few nights crying myself to sleep with worry. DD was also born without any problems
I think when you've coped with something like a stillbirth, you know the worst that pregnancy can bring so I don't think you can relax while pregnant.
SANDS are good for support, they were very kind to me and dh.
If it's your kind of thing they do support groups too, they wouldn't of worked for me as I'm a very closed person.
I wish you all the best for your current pregnancy 💐
First of all i am so so sorry that you have had so much loss and heartache.
Secondly, congratulations on your pregnancy, really that's fantastic news.
Thirdly, I think what you're experiencing is entirely to be expected.
I had 3 miscarriages before getting pregnant (at the age of 44) with my DD who is now aged 5 1/2.
From the pregnancy test until pretty much the birth I was in a state akin to phobic. Everyone thought the pregnancy was the end of my journey but for me it was the start of a very anxious time. I dreaded every scan and did not feel reassured by any tests or measurements.
I didn't book a 12 week scan because I convinced myself I wouldn't need one. I couldn't read about Nuchal scans or other tests because I literally had to live each day at a time. I couldn't look at pregnancy diaries, formulate a birth plan and didn't buy any clothes until about a week before my c section (DD was breech)
Around the point where you are now I found a hypnotherapist who specialised in pregnancy anxiety and although her manner was clumsy and crass at times, on balance I felt the sessions helped. I did vusualisatiins (imagining DD safely strapped in to some kind of safe seat in my stomach), I did yoga classes and tried to just be healthy and careful.
All I can say is that I took one day at a time. Literally I thought to myself every day "Today I'm OK and my baby is OK."
The cruelest irony of my longed for pregnancy was that my pregnancy losses robbed me of any joy at being pregnant. Somehow OP I got through it. Every school play and even in the smallest of moments, I find myself with tears in my eyes looking at her and pinching myself.
That said, I worry more than I would like to.
There is nothing I can say to you other than be kind to yourself and do it your way and at your pace.If people don't understand, sod them this is your pregnancy and you do it your way.
Plus remember once it happens and you have your DC it is ok not to enjoy it. Sometimes it's hard and sometimesit's relentless and sometimes it's exhausting and you're allowed to feel all of those things. It took me a very long time to figure that out.
Good luck. Just take it a day at a time. If I knew how to post you a hug and bunch of flowers, I would X X
Op, please look for your closest SANDS pregnancy after loss group. I'm not comfortable with the rainbow concept, and some pregnancy after loss groups do use this terminology. If you need any help looking for groups, feel free to pm me. And , like others on this thread, I've been in this shitty shitty position also. Even now, 4 'successful' pregnancies and over a decade later, and I still feel robbed of the innocence of pregnancy.
I'm not pregnant now (nor have been for years) but my was first was stillborn after I went into prem labour. I went on to have DS after a non eventful pregnancy followed by two late miscarriages before DD. We came very close to losing DD during delivery due to a cord indicident but thankful as I was already flagged as high risk, a crash team were there in seconds and managed to turn things around.
I understand what you are saying about NCT. I couldn't go anywhere near them. I went to one NHS antenatal class, came home crying and never went again. I felt completely isolated. There was no way I could speak about my experiences or feelings in a room with desperately excited first time mums but nor could I feel like them. I never glowed during my pregnancies, they were something to be endured. Scans were fraught experiences (including for the professionals dealing with me) and nothing I bought for the baby came out its packaging until absolutely necessary so it could be returned.
I really hope you get there this time. I took some (limited) comfort from my rather blunt consultant who told me 'you've had one pregancy go to term so you can do it again as long as you're prepared to keep trying'.
Oh bless you that all sounds so tough and your feelings are completely normal given everything you have been through. I saw a great psychologist after several miscarriages and I really recommend her. She uses a combination of CBT and ACT (the ACT bit is the most useful as it doesn't minimise feelings, thoughts, worries, emotions or pass judgement on them) but it does work on helping someone to 'be with them' and not to feel guilty/sad/ anxious about lack of 'normal feelings/ how you would feel if your experiences hadn't of happened'. I can PM you her details if you wanted them. X
Gosh, so many people who have been in similar situations. Thank you so much for your responses.
Unfortunately I can't get on with the SANDS forum as there are so many pictures of dead babies. I find it really upsetting, and also guilt-inducing: the fact that most other people seem to be able to look at photos of their babies and feel tenderness rather than the panic and fright and horror I felt makes me feel like a shit mother, and somehow doubly alienated.
Also, I can't face going to a SANDS pregnancy after loss group because of the possibility that everyone else will have a successful pregnancy, but I will have to drop out when it all goes wrong - like a gruesome version of my NCT group all over again. I just can't bear to put myself in the position of being the unluckiest member of an already deeply unlucky group, I feel enough of a freak as it is.
I am also way too bitter for hypnotherapy. As part of my hypnobirthing class I did God knows how many hundreds of hours of breathing exercises while imagining my cervix opening gently like a rose in the summer rain and holding my beautiful healthy baby for the first time. The teacher was
a bit of an overbearing loon adamant that we could entirely influence the outcome of the birth with our minds, if only we were positive enough. We were asked to imagine how many hours of labour we wanted, and then assured that if we really believed, that is how long our labour would last. People in my class described magical 4-hour labours with no pain relief, and reported coming out of the experience feeling God-like in their omnipotence. And then there was my 30-hour ordeal that ended in death & a c-section. I couldn't help but think that anyone who heard what happened must have felt sorry for what an uptight, un-spiritual person I must be for having got it all so wrong. <paranoia>
Picolo it's good to hear what you say about trying not to feel guilty about not enjoying every moment of parenthood should I get there. I feel ambivalent enough about it already. The idea of having to endure another 6 months of this pregnancy and then, instead of getting to go on holiday or something, having to go straight into constant poo and vomit and crying and mastitis and years of sleep deprivation sounds frankly terrible, and I wonder every day why I have put myself in this position. But then part of my problem is I can't think of anything nice about being a parent - it's never been part of my experience, and over the past 2 years I have made myself stop thinking about it.
BipBippadotta even though I have never had any losses I truly empathise with what you are saying. I almost lost my DD due to medical neglect (who failed to see we were both at risk), but she was born very tiny but at good 33 weeks. It took months or even over a year for me and DH to accept she was fine and not going to die. When I got pregnant again I hated almost every second of it, as I couldn't stop thinking I was going to die, and worst of all leave my DD with no mum. Nothing reassured me so I took matters on my own hands and looked for the best specialist and was always on top of things; me and my DH became the annoying parents that knew almost as much as the doctors. I only believed my DS was ok when I saw his precious little face, when he was born healthy at 36 weeks. However for the first few months I could not shake off the feeling that I was going to die... But day after day the happiness of his existence overshadows the fear, and today I don't think I'm going to die (just yet!) anymore. Anyway what I wanted to say is I completely understand that feeling about the picture perfect pregnancies (when my DD was in special care I hated using breastfeeding products, with the smiley babies in the boxes staring at me!), NCT groups (that I never got to go cause they were always born by then) and just the overall ignorance that most people are blessed to have in respect to pregnancy. I met many parents at the neonatal unit and also from personal life, when people reveal that "actually", their pregnancies were not straightforward either and they tell you things they never told you before because of that tabu of the non-perfect pregnancies, and I must say that what I found out is that each one of us needs to find their own way, what makes sense to you (as a scientist I agree no hypnotherapy would help me...) what you can hold on to in order to overcome this. No ammount of force applied positivity will do the trick I don't think, you need to grieve and hurt to then heal. But for me, the healing process both times started when I got to see my babies and bring them home, but it wasn't completed so quickly. It took months (and will be years) of repeated positive experiences and feelings with them to truly accept what happened. What I wish you is that regardless of the outcome you are able to accept it, but take matters on your own hands, gain control, be empowered for what you CAN do and accept the uncertainty of what you CAN'T do. That's different from having to be "strong"... You don't need to be any stronger than what you already are.
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