Dear Mama-to-be, surviving pregnancy after loss

Dear Mama to be,

Fifteen years ago, pregnant with my second baby, just three months after losing our first at 13 weeks, I was just like you. And eighteen times since.

I guess that’s hard for some people to imagine, to even allow that thought to enter their brain and ponder how it would feel to be pregnant so many times, and say goodbye just a few months later. I know I struggle with it even now.

I am often asked by other parents, Mum’s especially, how did you find the strength to keep trying? How did you survive all of that pain, all of that disappointment and heartache, and put yourself through it year after year? And I guess the answer to that is, I refused to give up hope. When I saw those beautiful flickering heart beats on a scan, knowing that just a few weeks later they may be gone; when I hit twelve weeks, twenty weeks, thirty weeks, when we were almost there, our baby fully grown and cocooned in all of our hopes and dreams; even when I held my son in my arms, so silent and so still, it was never an option to give up hope.

And to look at me now, surrounded by four children, the most beautiful family you could ever imagine, you would never guess what we have been through to have them. You would never believe that, behind a smile that beams with pride every time I look at the four of them together, there is so much heartache and hurt; that where there are four there should have been five. You would never for one moment imagine that there are fifteen little babies all loved, all lost, who I shall think of and remember always.

Because once upon a time I was just like you, squinting at a pregnancy test, holding it up to the light, scrutinising every little shadow, willing those two lines to show, and for this to finally be our chance. Back then I was just like you, dissecting digital tests, despite the blow of reading ‘negative’, frantically googling evaporation lines, false readings, pouring over baby forums where women like me were doing exactly the same.

I was just like you, staring in disbelief when I finally saw those blue lines again, both laughing and crying, trying so hard to believe that this time it would all work out. I was like you, not satisfied with one test, but taking daily tests, sometimes several times a day, lining each test up on the bathroom window ledge, comparing the colour of those blue lines, sobbing if they looked a little paler, sighing with relief when the ink grew darker.

I was just like you, on constant knicker watch. Making trips to the bathroom every half hour, every ten minutes, every moment of every day, checking for minuscule spots of blood, wiping with a shaky hand, dreading the thought of seeing that angry red streak which signalled the end.

I was just like you, pleading with the doctor for an early scan, paying privately for our own reassurance, pacing the waiting room, shaking like a leaf, telling myself that any moment now this would all be over.

And praying that I would be wrong.

I was just like you, watching the sonographers face for tell tale signs of bad news, holding my breath until she swivelled the monitor, pointed to that beautiful little speck on the screen and told me, the most wonderful words of all, “There’s the heartbeat right there.”

I was just like you, leaving the hospital, elated, clutching that ultrasound photo to my chest, praying that my baby would continue to grow. Allowing myself to imagine, even for just a moment, that it would all be okay, before instantly berating myself for daring to believe.

I was just like you, panicking at every twinge and cramp, prodding my boobs to check they still hurt, willing myself to feel sick or crave pickled onions, a regular at the doctors, counting down the days until our 12 week scan.

And I was just like you when my world came crashing down around me with bad news, and walking on air with the good. I was just like you, clinging on to my husband as my heart broke in two, and crying with disbelief when it didn’t.

And whilst I would love to sit here and tell you that those first twelve weeks will be easy, or indeed for many of us the entire nine months, I can’t. It’s going to be hard, during those 8 long weeks before the next scan, when you imagine all of the things that could possibly go wrong; when you lie there as the sonographer checks all of their organs, takes all of those measurements, and you tell yourself that you couldn’t possibly be so lucky as to have a healthy baby after all of this time.

When you start to feel movement, those amazing little flutters, and those huge walloping kicks, you are going to drive yourself crazy waiting for the day they may stop. When you shop for the nursery and splash out on the pram, when you hold those tiny little babygros in your arms and imagine the baby who will wear them, you are going to ask yourself, what if they never will? 

When you reach your due date, when your fear and anxiety hits an all time high, lying awake with horror stories, like mine, swirling around in your head, you’re going to feel a sense of hysteria that you just want this baby out, right now, right then in that moment, whilst they still kick inside you, whilst there is still hope.

And during those moments, you will ask yourself, am I going crazy? Is this normal? Am I losing my mind? And believe me when I tell you that everything you are feeling is completely and utterly normal. 

It’s okay to be scared, to fear the worst, to live every day holding your breath, wishing that you could be sure of the outcome. It’s okay to be neurotic, to pee on a stick twenty times a day, it’s okay to tell everyone, to tell no-one, to shut yourself off or surround yourself with love.

It’s okay to cry, to laugh, to feel a thousand different emotions in the space of an hour; to imagine a life without your baby in it, and to dream of a life with them at the centre of your world.

It’s okay to feel jealous, to feel angry, to feel robbed of a time that should have been wonderful and exciting, filled with such happiness, knowing nothing but joy. It’s okay to get through each day doing whatever it takes to stay focused, no matter how strange or how crazy it feels.

It’s okay to feel guilty, to think about the baby you lost, the baby you hoped for, the baby you would have given just about anything to hold in your arms. And it’s okay to be happy, to feel grateful, to feel excited; it’s okay to allow yourself to believe that this time, all of your hopes and dreams may come true.

And whist I can’t give you a magic wand to make this time go any faster, and whilst I can’t promise you there will be a healthy baby at the end of your journey, I can assure you that whatever happens, you will survive it.

Because, trust me, when you get through it, which you undoubtedly will, and you hold that little one in your arms, when he or she lets out that first cry, opens their eyes, and you see each other for the very first time, it will be worth every last heartache, every single tear, and you will be the most wonderful mummy in all the world because of it.

I can promise you that. 

xxx

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56 Comments

  1. Ashley Roberts
    June 13, 2018 / 4:35 pm

    I struggled with infertility due to endometriosis for almost 10 years and magically by the grace of God one day I was blessed with a positive pregnancy test. I was so scared through the whole pregnancy to even enjoy it. Every cramp, every high blood pressure, every thing just scared me so much I was so afraid. Your stronger than most! Bless you and your family

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 10:56 pm

      Gosh that must have been so hard, I am so happy that you were lucky enough to have a baby. And thank you so much. xx

  2. June 13, 2018 / 6:56 pm

    It’s been years, but I still have hurt in my heart from my losses even though I am blessed with two gorgeous little boys making messes and filling the house with laughter. It’s funny, isn’t it, the things that can trigger the memories and emotions? Sometimes it feels like it’s out of nowhere. But you’re right, you survive, you live, and you love.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 10:57 pm

      I am sorry to hear that Jennifer. I don’t think that anybody ever gets over a loss, even when you are lucky enough to go on to have other children, xx

  3. June 13, 2018 / 7:06 pm

    Laura, I am so sorry that you have had to experience so much loss. Thank you for sharing such an open and honest post. That reminder about it being ok to have that whole range of emotions is an important one. It really does help to know you’re not alone in feeling them. I’ve felt such a huge mixture of emotions with regards to this pregnancy since losing Jessica and part of the reason I have felt able to be honest about some of them is because I know that doing so could help someone else in a similar situation feel a little less alone. I am sure that you doing them same helps other parents who have experienced loss too. Lots of love to you and your beautiful family and thank you again for your beautifully written words xx

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 10:58 pm

      Oh Louise, how kind you are to send love to me when you are dealing with so much heartache of your own, in a way that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. You are right though, sharing our experiences is so important in order for others to feel less alone. So much love to you. xx

  4. June 13, 2018 / 8:05 pm

    This is exactly me with each of my pregnancies following my loss. It’s horrendous and no pregnancy is ever happy and carefree again. You have such a positive spin on it though, what an amazing lady you are x

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that Ali, its so hard to go through pregnancy after loss isn’t it? Thank you for reading. xx

  5. June 13, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    Such a powerful post, it’s good that you kept up the strength even despite how much you went through x

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 10:59 pm

      Thank you Rhian, I am so grateful that I didn’t give up! xx

  6. June 13, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Oh wow Laura, I never knew you’d had so many miscarriages as well as losing a baby too. I honestly don’t think I could have carried on trying but your children are so gorgeous so it was definitely worth persevering. So beautifully written as always.
    Lots of love xxx

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      Thank you Fran. I think because my losses were all unexplained, and I had Lewis, it felt as though I just wasn’t willing to give up? I am so glad I didn’t, I have been incredibly lucky. xx

  7. June 13, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Beautiful post. It amazes me how you found the strength to keep going through all this heart ache. You’re stronger than you think you are. You have a beautiful family and you deserve the love of your children, the warm hugs that they give and you’re an amazing mummy to them xx

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:01 pm

      Thank you my lovely, I am the luckiest mummy in all the world. xx

  8. Selena
    June 13, 2018 / 9:31 pm

    Some parts of this I totally could have written myself.. i lost two babies before having my daughter and it was hard 🙁

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:01 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that Selena, much love to you. xx

  9. June 13, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I am sorry to read that you also had so many miscarriages as well a losing your baby Laura. You have been through so much. I remember the day I miscarried one of mine and the feelings I felt when I heard the news 🙁 xx

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:01 pm

      Thank you, and I am so sorry you went through a miscarriage too. It never leaves you does it? xx

  10. June 13, 2018 / 9:43 pm

    You are so amazing to stay strong through such difficult times. And how wonderful to share with those that are feeling the same.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:02 pm

      Thank you so much Mary xx

  11. June 14, 2018 / 1:28 am

    Sharing such a personal story to help others is beautiful. Helping others is a calling.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:02 pm

      Thank you so much xx

  12. June 14, 2018 / 2:54 am

    This is such a heart-wrenching post! I can’t even imagine, I had infertility issues which I thought were hard to deal with but losing a baby, I can’t even imagine the pain!

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Thank you Trina, it hasn’t been easy at all but I am so thankful for the children I hold in my arms. xx

  13. June 14, 2018 / 3:04 am

    That’s very well said. It’s heartbreaking to have to go through this time and time again. It’s definitely not easy and it’s going to challenge the way you view life and how it should be. It’s going to feel unfair, and painful. I hope this post gives everyone out there the reassurance that they need.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Thank you Alison. It does change the way you view life, but for the better I think? I cherish every moment because of it. xx

  14. June 14, 2018 / 4:46 am

    I am really sorry for you loss love.. but I am more happy for your gain. My uncle and aunt are infertile.. after a few tests, they’ll be attempting for some medical procedure. this post is really inspiring. I’ll show them this to give them emotional support. Thanks❤️

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Thank you so much. I hope that your Aunt and Uncle are blessed with a little one. xx

  15. June 14, 2018 / 6:29 am

    Thanks to pcos I lost my first child in utero… 4 months later after my first period since the loss I was pregnant again. I was scared. terrified… I tried my best to enjoy it but i just couldn.t I was on a first name basis with my OB, her nursing staff, the hospital staff and a shrink. Anxiety attacks, everything you can think of I was there… I wish i had tried harder to enjoy it, but I just couldnt. Now looking back on it, I have since sought more help with my mental state on everything. my counselor said to name my child, celebrate my child and talk about the baby as if he or she where here still. but grieve him or her. I hope now knowing what i do now, that I am not alone that my child does matter, that I have a support system I will be able to enjoy my next pregnancy if i am so blessed to have another!

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      I am so sorry to hear that Tia. Your child does matter, and will always matter, and I hope that when you are blessed with another pregnancy you have that support to guide you through. Much love. xx

  16. June 14, 2018 / 7:24 am

    Reading this post brought tears to my eyes. You have been through such a lot and here you are supporting others that need reassurance that everything will be alright. You have a beautiful family that god has given you now.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Thank you so much Nayna, I am very lucky that is for sure. xx

  17. June 14, 2018 / 7:28 am

    I am sure this post will give comfort to women experiencing baby loss.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Thank you Kara, I hope so. xx

  18. Kiwi
    June 14, 2018 / 7:28 am

    Someone needed to read this post. Miscarriages are so common but there is always a light so I hope pregnant moms who get another chance to create and birth life feel hope again even through the previous tragedy.

    • Laura Dove
      June 14, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Thank you. I think it is important to remember that there is always hope. xx

  19. June 14, 2018 / 8:34 am

    so sorry for your losses. My sister has had two miscarriages and she was devastated.

  20. June 14, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Oh Laura I have the biggest lump in my throat reading this. I think this is an important blog post for women in this tough situation to read. Bless you for sharing.

  21. June 14, 2018 / 12:41 pm

    oh what a beautiful post. despite having two children, we’ve been suffering with secondary infertility, so although it isn’t loss, i can relate a lot to what has been said

  22. June 14, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    I struggled with pregnancy loss as well. 6, 3 before each successful pregnancy and it never got any easier. It also made pregnancy scary and a constant worry, but it is good to know that its not just us. That others go through it too.

  23. Minakshi Bajpai
    June 14, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    That’s a lovely post. keep up the good work. Nice blog I must say

  24. June 14, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    Virtual hug <3 this post touched my heart and made me teary-eyed. You have experienced loss and now you are here comforting and reassuring others.

  25. June 14, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    It’s so difficult to try to enjoy pregnancy after a loss. I am so sorry for all of your losses. I have no doubt that reading this will really help a lot of people

  26. June 14, 2018 / 8:15 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful post. I didn’t know about the extent of your losses and I’m so sorry to read of them. But I think you are a wonderful advocate and role model for others who have gone through loss or are worrying about it. Your posts are always from the heart Laura and show others that they too can survive as you have x

  27. June 14, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Perfect post to help people, it must be so very scary but so many mixed emotions too

  28. June 14, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    I’m so happy for your happy endings. How wonderful that you shared this for others. I’m encouraged and I’m way past age to have babies! 🙂

  29. June 15, 2018 / 9:59 am

    A beautiful, heartfelt post Laura. I still think about the babies I never got to meet, but am so grateful for my two beautiful sons. I’m so glad I kept the strength and hope, even through the hard times.

  30. June 15, 2018 / 11:28 am

    This is so heartbreaking to read but yet so beautiful and overwhelming. As a mum who has had a difficult pregnancy, I cannot imagine what you have been through. No words to describe your perseverance, glad it all worked out.

  31. June 15, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    I can’t imagine all that you have suffered, but am grateful for your sharing it hear. Compassion is a learned behavior, and I think you are a good teacher.

  32. June 15, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    I cannot begin to imagine the heartache and loss over just one child let alone so many. That would be hard. but it’s good you can put everything into perspective and say firmly that the joy you experience in your children now was worth the suffering and the loss. And maybe you appreciate the joy now even more because you have been through the other.

  33. June 15, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    My mummy struggled with infertility due to her pelvic endometriosis and since then she’s been plagued with lung collapses and thoracic endo, throughout her pregnancy she worried constantly and was glad when she held me in her arms. Its such a blessing to be a mum and pregnancy is such a labour of love x

  34. June 16, 2018 / 11:52 pm

    My best friend had to go through this and it was incredibly tough all the way through, as you would expect. She now has the healthiest, most gorgeous little girl you could imagine. She’s full of fun and mischief 🙂 Every day, she thinks about her little boy and how she misses him though

  35. June 17, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    I really can’t imagine what you went through. That kind of loss is so devastating but I know you were blessed with so many more wonderful children. But I know pain like that never goes away. However, your strength, I’m sure has really helped so many people.

  36. June 17, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Oh Laura, this has killed me. You write so beautifully, it’s so raw and honest and understanding and relatable and after just 1 miscarriage last year, I am petrified to find those blue lines I equally want so much because I don’t think my nerves can take the worry and stress! I’m so sorry you’ve been through this but I think it’s wonderful that you write so openly to help others xx

  37. June 18, 2018 / 6:45 am

    Such an open and honest post that is beautifully written. You’re a such a wonderful person for sharing to help others even though you’ve had such a difficult time yourself x

  38. Becca Wilson
    June 18, 2018 / 6:40 pm

    Loss like this would be so very tough. I have known so many mamas that have gone through it and this would definitely have helped them in their time of survival afterwards.

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