My appointment was 20 minutes away and instead of putting on my shoes and getting into the car, I was sitting on the bedroom floor, stuck. I could feel my heart racing in my throat, and my head was filled with fear—all because I was afraid of my ultrasound appointment.
I was early in my pregnancy—only about seven weeks along—and I thought I was looking forward to getting a first look at my growing child. But I was wrong. I was terrified, filled with fear and certainty that the appointment was going to be a repeat of the worst moment I’d experienced months before.
The experience of pregnancy can come with many unexpected surprises. A lot of those surprises are happy ones, like realizing just how strong a baby’s kicks are when they hit you in the bladder or discovering you’re going to have twins. The experience as a whole is filled with memories you’ll carry with you forever, from hearing your baby’s heartbeat early on in pregnancy to celebrating with baby showers and trying to get over your fear of what labor is really going to be like.
And it’s amazing how something so life-changing can be seen with so much optimism. Until you realize just how fragile the whole process is, and then the fear and worry take a strong hold on you.
That’s exactly what I was battling with while I was siting on the floor in my bedroom—all over an ultrasound that most mothers-to-be would be circling on the calendar and counting down the hours to. My rose-colored glasses had been shattered long ago, and in their place, I carried a lot of anxiety. Pregnancy was no longer about those memory-making moments, but getting through the terror of losing another baby.
When I was stuck sitting on that floor, wishing I didn’t have to go to the ultrasound, my husband came in, sat beside me, and took my hand. He didn’t say a word because he, too, was feeling the weight of the appointment and the worry. For anyone who has wrestled with anxiety, you understand the constant struggle of trying to silence those worries when you know it isn’t going to change anything. You can’t just “snap out of it,” so learning to cope is all you have.
Getting through pregnancy when your mind is filled with worries and what-ifs is something many women who have previously had a miscarriage experience, but few talk about it. And talking is one of the best ways to help deal with the anxiety and fear you have:
Be open with your care team.
It’s a common theme: Women who are pregnant after loss say their doctors were dismissive and didn’t take their miscarriage into consideration. It’s important to be upfront with all care providers and tell them your history and why you may be anxious. I told every ultrasound technician that I was worried and why—instantly they were more sensitive toward me. It was the same with doctors, nurses, and lab technicians who were a part of my care during pregnancy.
Be honest and gentle with yourself.
Practice self-care and make note of what really amps up your anxieties. For me, the biggest triggers were ultrasound and doctor’s appointments, so I took a few things into account when it came to booking appointments. I always made sure I had someone to accompany me on these appointments. I also considered dates on the calendar that were strong reminders of my grief and made sure I had the space I needed to cope. I also made sure not to beat myself up for worrying or being a “downer.”
Seek help if you need it.
It is important to share your anxiety with your doctor and seek additional help if you find your daily life is being affected. If you are preoccupied with fears of the worst happening, consumed by panic attacks, and can’t shake your disruptive feelings no matter how much support you have, please let with your doctor know.
Getting through pregnancy after you’ve experienced a miscarriage is not an easy feat. The fear can take over and make you feel very alone at times. But you’re not alone, your feelings are valid, and taking care of yourself will help you find the joy in pregnancy again.