Shortly after I found out I was pregnant the very first time, I experienced an early miscarriage. My doctor explained that sometimes these things happen. Although I love my partner and I was devastated by what happened, I knew it wasn’t the right time.
Months later, we decided the time was right and we were ready. After three months of trying we were lucky enough to have a viable pregnancy.
Despite it being exactly what I wanted, I worried about everything. Every cramp, ache, movement, or lack thereof, I imagined there was a problem.
By the third trimester, the stress of overthinking had taken its toll mentally and I’d fallen into a deep depression. I eventually spoke to my physician and revealed the truth of the emotional burden I felt. With the help of counseling, medication, emotional support, and time, I was able to address the issues that lead to my pre and postpartum depression.
Through talking about what was going on I connected a lot of dots.
After experiencing unviable pregnancies over the two and a half years since my son was born, I finally reached a point where I thought, maybe this just isn’t going to happen. When I recovered from the emotional toll of my final miscarriage, I made plans to adopt a dog, take snowboarding lessons, and finally schedule that tattoo I’d been putting off for years.
Shortly after my dog arrived (and I was steadily falling down at lesson number three), I began to notice pregnancy symptoms. I waited as long as I could, spoke with my doctor, and booked an ultrasound appointment.
I remember anxiously shifting while laying on top of a crinkling paper sheet as the technician searched the screen. In an otherwise quiet room, I heard the heartbeat of the baby I’d been hoping and wishing for. As the rhythmic beat filled the room, I began to cry.
Through sobs, I explained to the ultrasound technician with worried eyes that I was surprised just as much as I was relieved. As soon as I left the office with the sonogram in hand, I knew I had to make some changes in order to have a more enjoyable pregnancy this time around.
I’m not going to pretend that having a (relatively) worry-free pregnancy was easy. It wasn’t. Worrying is something that comes naturally to me—I’ve done it all my life in all aspects of it. I knew I would have to work hard at pushing the negative thoughts out of my mind and keeping my focus on the positives.
There are a few things that really helped me while I was expecting my rainbow baby.
I tried focusing more on the changes happening to my body at each moment and the things it needed. I focused on things like taking care of my body and embracing the knowledge that my body was changing, growing, and doing its best every day.
I made space for self-care. For me, this meant taking the time to write or enjoy a nice hot bath. I spent time writing about my depression, my family, or my dogs. It’s important to remember who we are, how strong we are, how far we’ve come, and what we’re capable of.
Knowing the experience of pregnancy, particularly after a loss, I knew I shouldn’t taken this experience for granted. And it didn’t mean it couldn’t be enjoyed. I allowed myself the freedom to be afraid of the future and to be excited for what was to come; I felt safe embracing my body’s changes.
Knowing the memories of this time were sometimes daunting, I’m so glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone by taking maternity photos (in a canola field!) and have the physical proof of how wonderful most of it was.
Most importantly, I kept talking. I talked about my feelings, my fears, and my hopes. So talk to someone loving and supportive.
Time can almost feel tangible when waiting for a baby after experiencing loss. The feeling of not knowing what could happen during pregnancy is overwhelming and stressful, no matter how long the journey. In my third trimester, I recognized I was struggling with managing the depression I carried since my teenage years plus the worries of waiting for my baby. Knowing I needed to get a handle on these feelings, I received help from my understanding health care provider and loving partner.
There’s so much waiting when it comes to babies, rainbow or not. Waiting for results, waiting for stages to pass (hello, morning sickness), and waiting for your precious baby to arrive. Whether it be your first, sixth, or last; the wait is never easy.
And while it’s not easy, the payoff is so worth it.