Welcome to this week’s Womanly Wednesday! In this series, different women share their struggles, bravely opening up about their stories so that other people would be inspired and encouraged. Make sure to check out the Womanly Wednesday archives to read other posts from this series!
I don’t consider myself a particularly anxious person. Yeah, I definitely have those, “My parents are calling after 9:00 pm– oh-my-gosh-who-died!?” moments, but I don’t typically lay awake at night worrying over things, and I’ve never had even a hint of a panic or anxiety attack.
That’s why I’m still surprised that, as I approach the final month of my fourth pregnancy- the time when baby is safe and would be healthy if delivered today- the anxiety I feel is at an overwhelming high.
I didn’t experience this anxiety with my first two pregnancies. They were both textbook smooth and, aside from an unplanned C-section with the first, both babies and I were healthy and happy. We grew our family at just the pace we had planned.
There aren’t words to describe the pain of miscarrying our third pregnancy at 12 weeks. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. It took my husband and I several months to decide we were ready to try getting pregnant again. When we succeeded a few months later, I immediately knew our fourth pregnancy would be different.
Gone was the carefree attitude of previous pregnancies. This time, I was conscious of every twinge of nausea and every new craving- every sign the pregnancy was progressing normally. It wasn’t until we passed the 12-week mark- the point we lost baby number three- that I felt able to take a deep breath and envision a future with a baby I was beginning to dream I might actually get to meet.
We had a brief period of serenity until I suffered a subchorionic hemorrhage at 14 weeks. I awoke from a nap to an immense amount of bleeding and the horrifying belief that we were losing another baby. We rushed to the ER where my husband and I were both shocked to discover the baby had a strong heartbeat.
Despite the potential complications from such a hemorrhage, the baby and I were both okay, but I was put on bed rest for a month to ensure the hemorrhage healed. It was during that time I began to feel the first little flutters of the baby moving. That movement was exactly what I needed in those long days at home; I was reassured each day by the little body wiggling inside me.
As the weeks passed and the hemorrhage grew smaller and then disappeared, we once again experienced a period of calm. We learned our sweet little nugget is a girl, and we soaked up the sweet anticipation of our two toddlers. We made plans and began stocking up on diapers.
Nothing earth-shattering happened to change the tide of my feelings. The baby is still healthy and so am I; so healthy, actually, that we were cleared to fly to Oregon to spend three weeks with my family. Despite a clean bill of health and the promise that we’ll be able to proceed with a VBAC as planned, I can’t shake this anxiety.
It seems to grow daily and it’s only at bay when the kids are safe at home, playing in the next room or, as they are now, sleeping soundly in their beds. It’s this intense fear that the idea of becoming a family of five is too good to be true, that something will happen in the coming weeks to shatter the dream we’re so close to getting to live.
I don’t have to be a psychologist to know that a lot of these worries likely stem from our miscarriage. We were once on our way to having three children- three living children- but that didn’t happen. We were forced to say goodbye to that family we’d pictured. It makes sense that I’d be fearful of the same thing happening again.
I was hesitant to write about the anxiety I’m feeling. It felt like something that would be a great story to tell after the fact: After we’d safely welcomed the baby and settled into our new lives. A great, “Let me tell you about that time in the past when I gave in to foolish worries…”
But writing about my anxiousness as it’s happening? That’s just asking for trouble. Talking “out loud” about these fears gives them weight and importance, when surely the smart thing to do is only speak of them in rushed whispers behind cupped hands, waiting until they’ve passed to turn them into an after-the-fact lesson on doubt and unnecessary fretfulness.
I couldn’t do that. I’ve tried hard to be authentic about all the hard things to come out of this pregnancy-after-miscarriage. I don’t owe anyone an explanation of my feelings, and no one would ever know what’s going on inside my head if I didn’t bare my soul. But I would know, and I refuse to let this anxiety rule my life.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it’s possible anxiety will become a part of my life. It seems foolish to believe the birth of the baby will magically erase the worry. In fact, just thinking of the first days and weeks at home with a tiny newborn stirs in me an entirely new kind of anxiety.
I don’t even have a plan for what I’ll do if that happens, if anxiety in one form or another becomes the norm. I just know that these worries, the ones I’m experiencing right now, won’t win. I can’t let them get the best of me and steal the joy I’m feeling over what lies ahead for my little family.