The Psychology of Pregnancy after Miscarriage

Being pregnant after experiencing the devastating loss of miscarriage is no walk in the park, and it has made me feel pretty crazy at times. But it is also a blessing…to be given another chance to create life. I’m currently at six months postpartum with my fifth child and I am so thankful to be here. She is my last baby and I am happy beyond words to have arrived at the end of my fertility journey. While I’ve always loved having and raising children, the parts leading to their arrival haven’t been as enjoyable.

Miscarriages of the past, including one fairly recently (and particularly upsetting), changed the way I experienced pregnancy. And each loss had a different and unexpected psychological effect on the next pregnancy.

My first pregnancy was a breeze, both emotionally and mentally, because I’d never had a loss before so I didn’t think about its possibility. I’d also gotten pregnant easily with her (unexpectedly, even) so we hadn’t been trying and failing, the way we would years later. I was naive – and blessedly so. I had a healthy baby without any mental stress before or during the pregnancy.

When she was nearing her second birthday, I experienced my first loss. It was quick; I was just six and a half weeks along and I’d only known for two days that I was expecting. Surprisingly, it was extremely upsetting to me even though I’d only had a brief time to daydream about our future with him or her.

After that, pregnancy was different for me. I was scared, oh so scared, while expecting baby #2 (third pregnancy) a year later. I was constantly checking for blood and just really nervous that I would miscarry again. This went on until about twelve weeks or so. The baby developed just fine and was born a healthy little boy.

About four years later, I had another miscarriage. That time, it was around the eight/nine week point and I’d known for several weeks. It was quite upsetting and it made me shy away from pregnancy for awhile.

Three years went by and I became pregnant again. I found out when I was two weeks late (6 weeks along). Initially, I was scared of an early loss and the fear lasted longer than with my son. But I started feeling more confident right around the time of our anatomy scan which was at 18 or 19 weeks. I felt great. And then I didn’t. An unusual thing happened: I began being very nervous about preterm labor. I became obsessed with how many weeks I was and what the baby’s chances of survival were each week. All of this for no reason at all, considering my previous births had been thirty-eight weekers. But it’s almost as if it gave me something to fear once I’d gotten past the fear of miscarrying. Kept my mind occupied, I guess. Well, I needn’t have worried; he arrived perfectly healthy at 39 weeks and 1 day.

We started trying for baby #4 (pregnancy #6) when our third child was a year old because I wanted to have two close together in age. I didn’t conceive until he was four. More on secondary infertility in a future post, but suffice it to say that I was on cloud nine once I was expecting again. I worried about staying pregnant with her for awhile, just like I did with her brothers, but then my fear presented as worry over her health because of my age. I was thirty-five and I was just sure the baby would have some sort of health concern(s) but she had none. And she was born my biggest and latest gestationally, arriving on her due date.

Then, the following spring, when she was nine months old, I had one more loss. I’d had a period (which I believe was my second or third one postpartum, even though we were still breastfeeding) and then several days later I had another few days of very heavy bleeding. I researched a little online and found that it might have meant pregnancy or miscarriage so I asked my husband to buy a test as I wasn’t feeling well enough to leave the house. Well, it was faintly positive! I assumed I’d miscarried but then I tested the next day and it was darker. I went to the doctor and they did blood work. My hCG was around 12,000 so they had me come back for an ultrasound. Was I pregnant? No, there was nothing there. But when I came back ten days later to have my hCG tested again, it was over 19,000. I wondered (we all wondered) again, was I pregnant? Another scan was done…still nothing in there. It was determined that I’d had an incomplete miscarriage, possibly a molar pregnancy (which essentially means that there is still tissue growing and producing hCG but there’s no baby) and that I needed a D&C to clear things out entirely. I had the procedure done at the hospital a few days later and then I was able to begin healing.

I had a lot of support during the whole experience because I’d been blogging through it all, so I found it easier to emotionally recover from than the other times. That being said, its effect on my last pregnancy was evident.

I conceived my fifth baby (8th pregnancy) just seven weeks after the d&c. I was thrilled but I found it difficult to accept.

For the first few months, I felt like an imposter, like I was pretending. Or that the doctors and midwives were playing a game with me, maybe. It was unsettling to feel like that. And it seemed to only get worse once I started showing. I avoided wearing maternity clothes because I didn’t feel like I should have a baby bump. It was crazy because at that point I had seen the baby three times on ultrasound and heard her heart beating on Doppler. Why couldn’t I accept that I was pregnant?

I guess, for one thing, I’d never successfully gotten (and stayed) pregnant while having such a young child so my mind couldn’t wrap itself around it. Heck, I was still breastfeeding her! And then, with the ups and downs, backs and forths of the last pregnancy/miscarriage, I guess it makes sense why I’d have trouble investing myself mentally and emotionally the next time.

But I wanted to! She was my last baby, my last time carrying and growing a little one inside. I prayed for peace and enjoyment to take the place of fear and doubt. And by the time the third trimester hit, I was fully immersed in being pregnant. I was scared because of some actual concerns/complications going on like low platelets, a short, funneling cervix, and the possibility of placenta previa, but none of the fears were unwarranted. I think those things almost helped me because I knew they were real. But then she was born.

On January 26th, 2018 after having been through so, so much over the years, a healthy baby girl entered the world and completed our family. And just like that, my fertility story ended.

If you have experienced the loss of a child or had difficulty conceiving, my heart goes out to you. It is such a difficult thing to go through. Please know that you’re not alone.

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I am a happily married mom of five living in the beautiful state of Georgia.

4 thoughts on “The Psychology of Pregnancy after Miscarriage

  1. Yes! I was so worried when I was first pregnant with Nora that I would do something to hurt her that I didn’t do much of anything. I remember that you and I miscarried the same week last year. Miscarriage is one of those things that is so common, yet nobody talks about it. We absolutely should, so that those going through it don’t feel so alone.

    Liked by 1 person

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