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StorkNet's Week By Week Guide to Pregnancy

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PAILS of Hope

Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long do I have to wait after my loss before I can try again?
Careproviders have differing views on the optimum timing between pregnancies. Be sure to discuss with your careprovider what they suggest in terms of your physical health. Because timing has many issues including your physical health, your age (is that biological clock ticking?), your prior obstetrical history, and your emotional well-being, I've written a separate article to present some of these issues.

Contemplating Pregnancy? (aka "Here We Go Again!")

Q. My husband and I can't agree on when to try again. What should I do?
You will need your partner's emotional support more than ever during a subsequent pregnancy, so it's important that you are BOTH ready before you take the leap. You can't make him ready if he's not but there are few things you can do:

  1. Instead of talking to him, try listening. By encouraging him to talk about his feelings and fears, you may provide the support he needs to feel ready.

  2. Be aware that you may very well share many similar thoughts and feelings. This sense of common ground can make you feel that you agree more than you disagree. It can be illuminating to discuss together the following questions:
    • What is the worst thing that could happen?
    • What is the best thing that could happen?
    • What is the most likely thing that will happen?
    There are no right or wrong, good or bad, reasonable or crazy answers. Every answer is valid and can give you insight on ways to support each other.

  3. For many dads, a main concern is for the mother's safety and well-being. He may fear for your health, your life or your sanity. If this is the case, you can try to reassure him. Perhaps your doctor or therapist could address some of his concerns. Meeting with a genetic counselor may also offer information he needs.

  4. Being patient can be most helpful. Pressure does little to make anyone adjust or work through things. By simply easing off, you may give him the space he needs to feel comfortable. A common dynamic is to strike a balance in the relationship, such that the more obsessed you are with getting pregnant, the more he backs off. By reducing your obsession, you may enable your partner to feel more open to another pregnancy.

Q. I'm terrified of a loss. How will I make it through nine months of terror?
Slowly and one day at a time! Or, if you're having a bad day, take it an hour at a time or 10 minutes at a time. Set up some mini goals for yourself. When I hear the heartbeat for the first time, I'm going to buy that teddybear. When I get to the end of the first trimester, I'm buying that new maternity shirt. When I feel the first kick, we're going out to dinner. Make your goals short and look forward to those rather than the entire nine months which can feel overwhelming.

Read Suggestions for Coping With Pregnancy After Pregnancy/Infant Loss

Q. What if I'm too afraid to bond with my baby?
Keep in mind that bonding is a process, not an event. Every parent has their own timetable. Some of us live in complete denial throughout a pregnancy in order to endure it. Just the fact that you want to conceive again and want the new pregnancy to continue is a sign that you are bonding. It is very normal to be afraid of getting close to your baby. Guarding those emotions thinking it will protect against more pain is a common defense mechanism. One thing to keep in mind is you would be devastated if you lost your new baby, so why not let those maternal juices flow anyway? Even if you don't feel completely bonded before birth, your baby will not be harmed. Adoptive parents bond after the fact with few problems. You and your baby will have many opportunities for joyful bonding. Relax, enjoy and trust that it WILL happen.

Q. I'm too afraid to set up the nursery or have a baby shower. What should I do?
Pregnancy is always a time to nurture yourself, so go with what feels comfortable to YOU. If you're not ready to put the crib up, don't. If you're not ready to buy baby clothes, don't. If you want the entire room set up and waiting by the end of the first trimester, do it. Each choice has its pros and cons, and it helps to think what YOU really want to do (rather than what your friends and relatives think you should do). Do what feels comfortable and right to you. If a baby shower scares you, explain that to your friends. Suggest that the shower be given after your baby is born and home safely. In this way, the gifts are very personalized for baby and you get the joy of showing him/her off to your shower guests.

Q. Is it appropriate to name my baby after my baby who died?
While there are some valid reasons for wanting to name your new baby after your baby who died, there are very significant reasons not to. Consider the long-term feelings a child and adult will feel about sharing the name of a sibling they didn't know. Explore your heart to determine whether using a name or names again is an effort to "replace" the previously lost baby. That is too much to ask a subsequent child to live up to, implicitly or explicitly.

However, there are ways to pass on parts of the name if that is important to you. Sharing middle names, using a middle name as the first name, or using the same initials with different names are examples. Or choose a totally different name to acknowledge that these are two different individuals.

Q. How do I cope with inappropriate comments from friends and family such as "just relax, everything will be fine"?
People who have not had your experiences can't understand the fear that you have for the safe delivery and health of your baby. Try to ignore their unthinking comments and rely instead on the support of those who do understand what you've been through (like StorkNet!). You might also gently remind them that given your history, you're very sensitive to what could happen and such comments are not helpful. Explain what would be helpful for you. There is a tendency for many to believe that once a person becomes pregnant after infertility or loss, everything that happened previously is erased or should be forgotten. Reminding others that this isn't the case may make them understand your fears better. If this doesn't help, you may have to distance yourself somewhat from those who are not supportive. Take care of YOU.

Q. How can I prepare for labor when I'm so afraid of something going wrong at the last minute?
This is a time when you need the support and encouragement of others. Make sure your careproviders can emotionally support you as well as give you excellent medical care. Using a doula, particularly one who is experienced in working with moms who have had a high risk pregnancy, can be very helpful during labor to keep you focused on the task at hand. Discuss your fears with your partner and anyone involved in your care. Write about your fears in a journal. Seeing your feelings down in black and white can help you make some sense of them and help alleviate some of the pressure. Remember that fear is normal, and recognizing that you are vulnerable will actually help you. When you actually face your fears rather than stuff them, you will be better able to master them and cope with them.

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Q. How will I feel when I bring my baby home?
The answer to this question is as individual as you are. You may feel a very mixed, bittersweet bag of emotions, compounded by postpartum hormones. It may feel unreal to finally have a baby at home after months of worrying if it would ever happen. You may feel equal amounts of happiness and sadness. You may miss your pregnant belly (also a normal postpartum feeling). You may feel immense relief. You may suddenly realize just what you missed before. Your baby's milestones may be bittersweet as well. When you have moments of sadness, acknowledge it. Then remind yourself of the joy you also have in your arms.

Q. After going through so much to build our family, will I be overprotective of my baby?
It's hard to separate what are normal parent fears and what constitutes being overprotective. In today's society of increasing violence, it's appropriate to be protective of your children. Remember that all children get sick periodically and they will have bumps and scrapes as they start exploring their world. Child proof your home, and remember to tell yourself that you cannot prevent every bad thing that might happen to your child. This doesn't make you a bad parent; it makes you a normal one.

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