'I would dread every hospital appointment'

After a heart-breaking missed miscarriage, Clare shares the reality of pregnancy after loss and what it’s really like to bring your baby home.

A photo of Clare holding her newborn daughter and smiling

Pregnancy story by Clare, 08/02/2018

The beginning of our journey

The first time I found out I was pregnant was in June 2015. I thought I’d already had what I was calling my ‘Disney ending’when I married my husband in December 2014. I’d also just completed a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for my anxiety, which was much more manageable, and been promoted to a great new job at work. It felt like everything was going well, too well.

A month later my life changed forever. I had a missed miscarriage, discovered only by an ultrasound and the words, ‘I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat’.

'Heartbroken is an understatement.'

Trying again

I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, and was always told by GPs and specialists that getting pregnant wouldn’t be straightforward, not impossible but not easy. You can imagine my surprise then when I did become pregnant again in November 2016, after only four months of not taking the Pill.

My husband and I were overjoyed as we really thought it would take a lot, lot longer. But with that utter joy was total terror. Would I have another miscarriage? Would the baby be OK? Would this really happen? Being completely honest, I pretty much stuck my head in the sand. I was taking prenatal vitamins, not drinking, massively cut down on caffeine, and ate better than I have in years. However, I couldn’t get excited about being pregnant. I just worried every day.

Pregnancy after loss

I went for a private scan at seven weeks and heard the most wonderful words, ‘there’s the heartbeat’. After that though, any twinge or pain sent me in to a major panic. As I approached nine weeks – the point where I miscarried last time – my anxiety went into overdrive.

I would dread every hospital appointment in case it was bad news, but I’m pleased to say it all went well.

Bringing my baby home

This will probably sound crazy but I never considered what happens once you bring the baby home! How could I not think about that?

'The first 2 or 3 days were a bit of a dreamy haze, as silly as that sounds, but then the reality kicked in.'

This amazing little person was here to stay and we had to keep her safe and well. It felt like all of a sudden we had become fully-fledged adults, and it was absolutely terrifying!

Lack of sleep due to a major night out is one thing, but lack of sleep because of a newborn (who is entirely dependent on you) is a whole new ball game. You can try to nap when they sleep, IF they sleep, but it’s not the same. I can see why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. You’d agree to anything if someone offered you a full night’s sleep after a week of newborn dominance.

From one mother to another

Never ever take a hot shower for granted! It’s the most wonderful thing and I appreciate them so much more now. Similarly, I’ve learned that face masks, body scrubs and hair treatments are not essential. Who knew?! As for hot drinks, well, they’re a luxury… especially in those first few weeks. I am a tea addict and refuse to drink cold tea, but needs must with a baby.

Tip from a new mum!

You could invest in a thermal mug to keep your much-needed caffeine above lukewarm temperature.

Think of all the clichés you’ve ever heard about life with a new baby. Do you have a list? I can tell you now that they’re almost all true.

You DO forget the birth.

You DO forget the pain, how I don’t know but you do.

You DO manage to sleep, even if it’s only a couple of hours.

You DO get to eat a hot meal.

You DO get to shower and even wash your hair.

You DO get to leave the house.

*The caveat here is that in order to do all of the things you usually don’t even think about, you DO need support.

If you’re lucky enough to have family nearby, let them help. It took me a long time to stop feeling guilty for having a shower. Crazy, right! Your little bundle will not be traumatised if they aren’t attached to you 24/7, and neither will you. It’s important to give yourself some time out. Again, this took me weeks and weeks to admit, but once I did I felt so much better.

Remember

Becoming a parent is the most wonderful, terrifying and exhausting job you’ll ever have, but (and here comes yet another cliché) it’s the most rewarding. When I look at my daughter, I feel as though my heart might burst. She is absolutely amazing! There actually aren’t enough positive words to describe her.

This also terrifies me. Will I be a good enough Mum? Will I give her everything she needs? And I don’t mean material things. Will she like me (I know, but I have worried about this one a lot!)? When these thoughts go through your sleep-deprived brain, usually at 3am, remember this: you made that little person in front of you! YOU are amazing. There are hundreds of books out there that can advise you on "what’s best", but this is YOUR little miracle, so do what YOU think is best, and I’ll tell you now, you’ll be right.

More pregnancy after loss stories

Things to think about for after the birth

  • A breast pump.

    Expressing

    Expressing milk is a way of extracting milk from the breast, and this can be done by hand or by using a pump.

  • Yawning baby.

    Coping with sleepless nights

    It’s really hard to stay cheerful if you’re being woken up every couple of hours every night. Try to remember that it won’t last too long.

  • Mum playing with baby.

    You and your baby

    Imagine what it’s like for your baby, doing everything for the first time.

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