Friday, August 7, 2015

7 Ways I'm Staying Sane During a Pregnancy After Loss

You know how I wrote this post about how I'm feeling a million times better? Well, apparently that was just a momentary lull, because the depression and anxiety are back and just as bad as before. So, there's that. But, I'm surviving and I'm working really hard to take care of myself, address these issues head on, and cope with them in healthy ways. Here are a few things I'm doing to that end:

1. Shopping. Ok, the title on this one makes it sound like I'm heading out every day for some retail therapy with credit card in hand and that's totally inaccurate. True to my cheap thrifty self, I'm scouring Craig's List and garage sales and consignment sales and reading all the baby deal blogs to get the best prices on the baby items. And since we got rid of most of our baby stuff, I do have a substantial number of things that I need to get, though I'm going to be much more minimalistic about baby this time. I know it's still early and we have plenty of time to get what we need but shopping early 1) gives me plenty of time to find the things we need at a great price and, more importantly, 2) gives me something to do for my baby.

I've had a very, very hard time connecting to the baby this time. Partly, I'm sure, as a defense mechanism in case we lose this baby too. (The chances for a living baby at this point are great, but there is still that doubt, you know?) Part of it though is because I'm still grieving the babies we lost and it's very hard to celebrate this baby at the same time, especially since this baby only exists because they died. I'm really hoping this will get better since we finally passed our last due date. In the meantime, while I can't seem to emotionally connect with baby, I'm doing what I can do for the baby.

2. Laundry. I've been washing baby clothes, blankets, and accessories and putting them in drawers. I've also been cleaning out and rearranging Lucia's closet so there is room for neatly folded newborn items. With about three months to go, it's really early have drawers already filled with clean, folded baby clothes but again, I need to feel like I'm doing something for baby. I also think it's helpful for me to be surrounded by visible changes that a baby is coming - drawers filled with tiny onesies and cloth diapers, the crib set up, etc. Despite being visibly pregnant now and constantly feeling the baby kick, it's still very hard for me to visualize having a baby in a few short months. It just doesn't seem possible that we'll have a living child and be able to bring him/her home. So making the house look like there will be a baby here soon makes it seem a little more conceivable.

3. Staying busy. This is so, so important for me. When my body is busy moving, my mind doesn't have too much time to wander. And thankfully, there is a TON to do, so it's not hard to find ways to keep busy. I'm still working on getting settled into my parents' house, organizing and decorating our rooms so we feel at home, and doing other projects around the house to make it more comfortable. With three full time working adults in the home, I've been taking over most of the day to day housekeeping, which really does pile up with that many adults - there is especially an absurd amount of dishes to do every day. Lucia and I have also been taking walks every day to play at the playground at the school in the neighborhood and we've started going to story time at the library and finding other free summer activities to do. If I collapse into bed exhausted at night, I fall asleep quicker and don't have time to dwell on irrational fears. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment when I see everything that's been done has been wonderful for my self-esteem.

4. Taking care of myself. Eating healthy, exercising, chiropractic care, taking baths, resting when I'm tired, etc. When I take a little time to care for myself and physically feel well, I feel a lot better mentally as well.  This pregnancy has been more more physically trying than my first and, while it's all within the range of "normal" pregnancy symptoms, the increased tiredness and aches and pains do increase my worries.

My pregnancy with Lucia was textbook perfect and, other than morning sickness in the first trimester and heartburn in the third, I felt amazing the whole time. Feeling physically well certainly helped to assure me that my body was made for this and that trust that my body knew what it was doing made for a very worry-free nine months. After four miscarriages, my belief that my body knows what it's doing and can adequately protect and nourish my child in the womb is pretty well gone. Add to that the increased symptoms, discomfort, and outright pain of this pregnancy, and the thought that maybe my body's too broken to bring any more child to term emerges. So, when I take the time to adequately address my symptoms and I start feeling better, I also start feeling a lot more confident and the ( very irrational but ever-present) fears of preterm labor are pushed a little further back in my bind.

5. Researching. Reading about miscarriage, pregnancy after loss, depression during pregnancy, my chances for having a healthy full-term pregnancy, survival rate if my baby was born right now, etc.  have been really helpful to me. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for me, being knowledgeable and feeling informed about the situations I find myself in is empowering. It's probably not at all obvious by the content of this blog since I tend to write about feelings and emotions and then some more feelings, but I'm actual much more of a logical than an emotional person. Facts appeal to me, even if they aren't exactly comforting. Knowing what I'm facing takes much of the mystery out of the battle, so reading articles and books chock full of research findings has a calming effect on me.

6. Reading. I'm not just reading research articles, but also just reading for fun. Books are my favorite escape and sometimes I just need that down time.  A few of my recent favorites include this modern classic, this farming memoir (a surprising page turner!), and I'm currently enjoying this quirky romance.

7. Relying on the prayers of others. I'd love to say one of the ways I'm coping is through prayer, but I've found it to be super difficult to pray during this pregnancy. I force myself to pray anyway but there just isn't a lot of comfort there. I don't feel like my relationship with God has changed much through my experiences with miscarriage - I don't blame Him, I am not angry with Him, but at the same time, I don't think I'm closer to Him or rely on him more - but I've really struggled with my understanding of prayer.

I have a hard time understanding why we pray for specific petitions. (Surely God knows what we need better than we anyway so why bother asking for what we want with our very limited knowledge and eternal understanding?). After praying four times that our baby would live and then then having them die anyway, I don't really understand why this would be any different - why would God answer this prayer now but not the last four times? I know that the death of our children weren't God's doing, but simple biology - something was wrong with my body - so it seems like this baby will live or die based on biology too. Certainly God can change an outcome, but I believe He rarely intervenes in the natural world (that's why when he does, it is called a miracle, something very out of the ordinary). Why would He suddenly intervene for me in this matter? (Not looking for answers here, just sharing some of my thought process.)

Prayer has been a struggle for me and not much of a comfort. But I take a lot of comfort from the prayers of others. I do believe that prayer is powerful even if I do not currently understand how or why and while my belief in prayer is a bit shaky, I am leaning on the strong belief of others around me that their prayers for me, my baby, and my family are reaching the ears of a loving Father. When my own prayers seem weak and ineffective, I'm letting the prayers of others lift me up.

Linking up to Kelly for 7 Quick Takes, even though most weren't really quick.

Image source: Bies, Flickr


  1. God bless you, I'll be praying for you!

  2. I wish we lived close enough to hang out, because so much of this post was me either agreeing or having some side story of similar thoughts, or just some general questions on prayer that are in the same vein. It was so many thoughts that I can't keep them all straight to address in this comment, so I'll just leave it be and keep you in my prayers.

  3. Praying for you guys, for a sweet and healthy birth, and for your heart to heal. Thank you for your vulnerability, I know so many women are touched by your words Mandi.

  4. Several times I have been on that side of God where you are desperately begging and pleading for something, you could rip out your own heart and offer it up, but it (seemingly) does nothing. You're right that if God were to change the circumstances it would be a miracle, but I believe there are many miracles every day that we miss. God has his hand guiding us and he knows suffering is good for our souls, better than getting what we want, even sometimes when all we want is someone we love to live. He knows the surest path to get us to heaven and the fact that he leads us there is a bit of a miracle, too.

  5. Mandi, I love your number #7. Yes, please, rely on the prayers of others. There are so many of us praying for you and your family. I experienced detachment and depression during my first pregnancy with my son because I was so afraid of many things. It took me months after he was born to bond with him because I was still holding onto my fears. I look back now and know that even in dark and distant times God was with us and He has a plan.

  6. This is a very good post. Just wonderful. Truly, I am amazed at what informative things you've told us today Pregnancy Week by Week