I distinctly remember someone saying to me 'it's alright for you, you've got three kids' when I was pregnant with my third baby. I didn't respond at that time, but it stuck in my head. In that moment I didn't feel like I had three children, though so many people would see that differently, as indeed this person did.
I have three wonderful healthy children earthside now, but I've had five pregnancies. Not many people know that and I don't speak of it often, with the exception of my husband from time to time. Why? I don't know: for a long time I didn't feel like I really could talk about them, that the pregnancies perhaps were somehow not valid because the losses were early, but had a friend asked me I would have gushed that they are totally entitled to feel grief and loss: and so why was I being so unkind to myself?
So here I am, talking about it. Validating the grief. Honouring the babies who didn't make it and remembering what a profound impact they had on my life.
Pregnancy number 4 was my double Rainbow boy, B. My absolute ray of sunshine and possibly the most difficult pregnancy! The two previous losses had left me bereft actually, so I don't know why I've felt like it wasn't valid to talk about them because it had obviously had an enormous contribution to how I dealt with this pregnancy.
I had panic attacks, often. I bled, frequently. I cried, a lot. I had terrible anxiety, ALL THE TIME. I got migraines, weekly... nothing was wrong with the baby at all, he was all well and healthy and I know that 'some people bleed' during pregnancy which they totally do...but you know when else they bleed? When they're losing a baby like I did, twice before and I just couldn't shake that off.
I remember my husband saying to me after one of these many emergency scans 'when can we stop worrying?' and I looked at him, smiled and said 'never. We can never stop worrying' and I was spot on. We worried when he stopped moving, we worried when he moved loads, we worried when I got vasovagal syncope, we worried when I felt sick, we worried when I didn't, we worried when I got twinges, we worried when we saw meconium.
Many of these things I think I may have worried about anyway - but for sure my past experiences were playing on repeat around my head on a daily basis, remembering how I felt when I lost the last two, remembering where I was, remembering the sounds and smells and wondering 'what if' this were the same again now...
With hindsight I can now understand why at every scan, I sat with my face away from the screen and eyes screwed shut: following my first loss I went to see a sonographer to confirm that all of the 'products of conception' had been expelled. Twisting the knife further, I was asked 'would you like to see?'. For one fleeting second I felt confused, had my baby made it? Then I found myself confirming my fears in disbelief at the cruelty of the situation 'to see my empty uterus?' which was of course what I would have seen. No, I didn't want to see. I jumped down from the table, scared, alone and vulnerable and I cried. I remember it so clearly that it's no wonder that at every scan I shook and sobbed, face turned away from that screen just in case.
My history and the worry didn't rule my pregnancy and it didn't spoil it; but I do feel like if I had the chance to validate the past and work through it, then I may have been a little calmer. I've been using the Three Step Technique with people for similar reasons and it's helped them to enjoy their pregnancies a little more and not feel so triggered as they did before. Something like that I feel would have really helped me.
This is why I do so much work with fertility and pregnancy: if there is any way that I can help people have more positive experiences then I will do. It has become my calling. So whether it's dealing with loss, trying to conceive, pregnancy or in fact any part of your womanly journey, then I want to hold your hand and walk it with you.
So when you see a pregnant woman and want to say 'it's alright for you', please stop for a moment. They may also know the pain of loss, the stress of IVF or the grief in a difficult conception journey: they might be pregnant now, but we don't know what came before and what they carry with them along with that child. Be kind. Always xx