A high risk pregancy, especially one following pregnancy loss, can easily turn a pregnancy experience into a time of ceaseless anxiety and worry. No one really knows the true risk of losing a child in the womb quite as well as a mother who has experienced such a loss. We are all too painfully aware of the risks and no matter how hard we try, we cannot go back to allowing ourselves a time of naivety and complete bliss. Sigh.
So the question remains. How in the world can we remain hopeful and stoic through a high risk pregnancy?!
Have Knowledgeable + Realistic Expectations
About two months after Julian was stillborn, I knew for certain that any subsequent pregnancy would be labeled High Risk. We were referred to a fetal specialist and high risk OB where we asked a million questions about what prenatal care would look like for me after our loss. The OB kindly explained in detail what high risk prenatal care would look like and it actually helped give me some peace of mind. It ment a lot more check-ups, more frequent scans, more options and intervention possibilities. All of that sounded like honey to my ears. They also mentioned that anxiety during another pregnancy would be absolutely normal and that they could offer extra scans or tests to ease mom's fears.
Learning and knowing what I would be getting myself into helped me out tremendously. Knowing my genetic vulnerabilities through my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) later on also helped me know what to expect. He also gave me invaluable tools and interventions for how to compensate through my weaknessess. MTHFR and a clotting dysfunction were things I needed to work through and I needed to be aware of the risks that come with those vulnerabilities before jumping into another pregnancy. Don't be afraid to ask questions and remember that it's better to know and prepare than to be caught off guard.
Be Thankful For Something Every Day
High risk pregnancy means different things for different people. So far for me it means heparin shots twice a day, intralipids twice a month, bed rest in first trimester and dealing with a subchorionic hematoma. Wow, writing all of that out just made my heart drop a bit.
But this is why we need to be thankful! It's so incredibly easy to get down in the dumps about any one of those things mentioned above. Look around you and find that there are at least three things to be grateful for every negative thing on your list.
As I sit in bed rest, I'm thankful primarily for the privilegde of carrying a very special embryo in my womb. I am so thankful for the outpouring of love and support from my family & friends. I am incredibly thankful for my husband who has taken up daddy duties like never before on top of caring for me. My heart melts when my five year old boy prays for the baby's and mama's wellbeing before bed. How could I not be grateful?! Practicing gratefulness elevates the heart and puts life into pespective for us through the hardest of times.
Remember That Life Doesn't Owe Us Anything Good
This may sound harsh but it's so true. Life doesn't owe us a baby or a house or life without misfortune. This is a hard one for me to remember and it is something my husband and I have tried to work on since our loss. It is not easy to think about and it may seem counterpruductive when you are trying to be hopeful. However, I find that that it actually strengthens hope in my case. It also forces me to rely on a power greater than me or this universe. Knowing that life and all good things are fragile and a gift, makes me feel hopeful when I pray to the giver of gifts.
Leave Room For The Unexpected
Going into this high risk pregnancy we were well aware that it was not going to be easy. One thing I wasn't excpecting was to be placed on bed rest at only five weeks due to a Suchorionic Hematoma that was larger than our little fragile baby embryo. It was so disheartening at first and it really threw us for a loop. Thankfully after much prayer & rest, the hematoma has almost dissolved completely. So how do I leave room for the unexpected?
- I try to genuinely pray for God's will to be done
- I try to think of negative outcomes before our next scan as well as positive ones
- I try to live day by day and scan to scan
- I try to remember that my plans may not be God's plans (easier said)
- I focus on the things I can do for the baby like not cheating on bed rest, staying calm, being grateful, eating well, drinking lots of H20, taking my supplements etc.
Yes, I hope for the best. How could I not? Hoping for the best is actually something I consider a weakness of mine. I'm forever optimistic. My husband also hopes for the best, although it is more of a challenge for him. He is not a natural optimist like me and that's ok.
If hope isn't something that comes naturally to you, try to consider the countless miracle stories in baby & mom forums. Read their positive stories. Search stories similar to your own. It's incredibly uplifting when you find stories of hope. Here are some of my favorite bible verses for finding hope in the darkness.
How do you stay hopeful and calm during pregnancy after loss or high risk pregnancy?