“6 weeks pregnant, I was sitting in the lobby waiting for the ultrasound for my fourth pregnancy. This is the office where hope was restored, and we were given answers and potential reasons why our three miscarriages happened just the year before. Nausea crept in while I sat there shaking my leg, watching the news on a small TV in the corner. It was impossible to tell if this nausea was morning sickness, anxiety, or a combination of both. The hard truth was we had never seen a heartbeat on that screen and I again feared the worst. The news on the small TV talked about the new virus sweeping China and fear of it entering the U.S. My mom and husband exchanged words about the potential, but my mind was elsewhere.
Finally, my name was called. I took a deep breath and made my way back to the ultrasound room. Tears filled my eyes as we waited for the nurse. ‘What if it happens again?’ I asked my husband. He assured me either way we’d be okay, either way he was there. Little did we know, weeks later he wouldn’t be able to hold my hand in that office, and I’d have to do it alone. I’d have to face my fears without him by my side. So many women would have to face this fear alone, without anyone holding their hand. And little did we know, so many dads alike would have this opportunity ripped away from them, being labeled a ‘guest’ or ‘visitor.’ I never dreamt that after 3 losses I’d be listening to our babies heartbeat with my husband on speakerphone. It was hard and unfair, but we were thankful to finally have a healthy baby growing.
At 10 weeks pregnant, cases of COVID-19 started being reported in the county I worked in. Working in health care, I knew I was at risk of being exposed, and we had no idea what it meant for pregnant women. My anxiety got so bad I’d have chest pains; I needed to go home and scrub. I’ll never forget breaking down in the shower that I wasn’t protecting my baby enough, that we’d lose this one too. My mental health was suffering…bad. Pregnancy after loss and infertility is full of fear and anxiety. Pregnancy after loss and infertility in a pandemic is paralyzing.
Although my husband couldn’t hold my hand during ultrasounds, he was there during every ‘what if’ breakdown. He was there for the trip to labor and delivery because our baby wasn’t moving enough. Pregnancy after loss is scary, and feels so fragile. Loss changes you. Every second you can’t feel your baby move is a scary moment that allows the worst thoughts to creep in. As we finished the nursery and built the crib, my belly got bigger and bigger. Baby was growing perfectly and we were both healthy, yet it never stopped the thoughts of, ‘What if we don’t bring a baby home?’ Before loss you plan for ‘when we bring our baby home.’ After loss you plan for ‘if we bring our baby home.’
We’d see friends and family who’d lovingly touch my belly, and ask to feel the baby move (well, he hasn’t moved in 10 minutes and I’m freaking out). ‘He’s sleeping right now,’ I’d reply with a smile. They’d ask me if I was excited or ready to be ‘done’ being pregnant. Of course I was excited, just as much as I was terrified. Nobody quite understood I had been ‘done’ being pregnant three times before and it never meant having a baby in my arms. Was I getting ready to meet my son? Absolutely. Was I terrified I wouldn’t get to bring him home? Definitely.
Again, my husband held me through those nights; even though he wasn’t allowed to share in all of the beautiful moments, he held me through all of the terrifying ones. Sweet moments in the middle of the night, feeling my baby move around reminded me he was okay, we had our own secret bond nobody else had. He was quite literally part of me and I was reminded every day how special and fragile these moments were. Despite the fear, I fell more in love with my baby every day. I dreamt of the days I’d hold him in my arms.
Fast forward to being 41 weeks (and one day) pregnant. I was sore, tired, and scared. I was terrified one of us wouldn’t make it home. My pregnancy had seemed too good to be true, so I was terrified something was going to go wrong. My first induction was not successful so we tried another with no progress being made. My heart rate was higher than it should be and my son’s dropping a bit lower than it should be, so my doctor recommended a c- section. Again, the fear, anxiety, and guilt kicked in. (I must have done something wrong). My C-section went perfect and I was in disbelief. My son was born a perfect healthy boy at 8lbs 6oz and 20 inches long. We were over the moon. We cried tears of joy; we didn’t know if we’d ever get to this point. Even at 41 weeks pregnant with no complications, I wasn’t sure.
When you have a C-section your hospital stay is 3 days, so having nurses around the clock was comforting. I knew if something was wrong they’d be able to help. I remember saying to one of the nurses, ‘So, we just take him home and that’s it, you just trust us with him?’ She laughed and said, ‘Yep! He’s all yours.’ Part of me was joking, but there was part of me that was serious, too; I hadn’t been able to protect my three babies before him when they were inside of me, how was I going to protect this perfect human with all of the terrifying things going on in the world? After all, we are in the middle of a pandemic. I didn’t sleep when he slept, I couldn’t. I stayed awake making sure I didn’t miss anything. As much as I loved having him in my arms, I longed for him to be part of me again…where he was safe.
Meetings happened through windows and computer screens. My husband showered after he got home from work. Friends stopped reaching out and we grew quite fond of our bubble. Our very isolating bubble. It’s hard to feel safe taking your newborn out in a pandemic, so you don’t. Nobody in…nobody out. The routine of lockdown is so daunting, but safe nonetheless. They warned me I’d have sleepless nights, they warned me babies poop up their backs, but nobody ever warned me that living with your heart outside of your body is quite possibly the most terrifying experience. I spent countless hours researching SIDS and ways to prevent it, because after loss, fragile takes on a new meaning. You know how quickly this miracle can be ripped away.
I’m slowly learning to sit back and trust the process, to learn how to live with my heart outside of my body. Pregnancy and parenthood after loss is terrifying and fragile. When you’re thrown into a pandemic on top of that, it sometimes seems like an impossible, lonely balance. I wouldn’t trade these times for anything – after all it all lead me to my rainbow – but if you know or love someone who is pregnant and/or parenting after loss in a pandemic…try to be patient with them. We are trying to figure it all out. It’s nothing personal, I promise.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Morgan Marie. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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