“Is this your first baby?” The question is simple and innocent. Maybe it’s a stranger making conversation. Maybe it’s a new healthcare provider asking for a medical history. Maybe another parent, wrangling a toddler in the supermarket checkout, eager to tell you “Just wait until they start walking.” For so many pregnant people, pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation for the new life stage about to begin. If you’re pregnant again after a loss, however, the question isn’t that simple. The joy you feel might be twinged with fear, anger, or sorrow. You’re allowed to feel all of those, and more. Feel all your feelings at once! There’s no right or wrong way to do this or to process this.
The first trimester can feel like a lonely time, especially if you’ve experienced a loss, and especially if that loss was early enough that very few people knew of the pregnancy, to begin with. When you’ve been through a loss, you might overanalyze every twinge, every sensation, everything you can type in a Google search box.
Let’s talk about that. First thing’s first, make sure you are under the care of a healthcare provider you can trust. Once you have a good provider in your corner, you can relax that the Big Things are out of your hands. Try to resist the urge to Google every symptom. Your doctor should be a lot more competent than an Internet forum. When you feel the urge to Google, try to find something else to occupy your body and your mind. Distraction is ok right now! This anxiety isn’t something you can think your way out of, because it’s not based on logic, it’s based on emotion and emotions can be annoyingly irrational. You can’t self-talk your way out of an anxiety spiral. Instead, consider doing something with your hands. Take a walk outside – sometimes the simple act of walking through a doorway into a different space can be enough to reset our brains a little. Run your hands under cold water to physically calm your body. Read something just for fun. Hug a cute pet.
Consider telling a few trusted friends and family members about your pregnancy. If you haven’t already, consider telling them about your loss, too. The standard of keeping the news of a pregnancy to yourself for 12 weeks isn’t something you have to follow if it doesn’t feel right for you. This was a profound experience, and you don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen. You might be surprised how many people reveal they had a similar experience. There are a lot of people that are members of this same club. Let your circle support you.
The experience of loss was real, and you’re allowed to grieve it, no matter how early or late it happened. You now know, not just intellectually, that this can happen. The past, however, doesn’t dictate the future. Breathe in. Breathe out. Congratulations. You can do this.