When Kathleen called her friends to announce that she was finally pregnant, it was not with the excitement and overwhelming joy, expected from someone who just got pregnant after seven years of infertility and some miscarriages in between. They couldn’t understand it. Wasn’t she happy that she was going to have a baby? Was she not joyful at the hope of motherhood that her pregnancy presented? But they didn’t get it; Kathleen was worried sick that one morning, she was going to wake up and she wouldn’t be pregnant again. She did everything she was asked to, ate right, rested, took her meds, drank lots of fluids and did light exercises in the evenings, but she couldn’t shake it off. Worry and heaviness wore over her like a garment, and when she finally sat on her couch to make the pregnancy announcement in her thirteenth week, it was like “Yeah, I just thought you should know; I am pregnant again”. Even the fact that she had passed the first trimester, and considered out of risk for a miscarriage, she couldn’t let her guard down.
My mother once told me a story of a woman in our village who lost all four of her children in five years. Many say they were spiritually attacked, while some attribute it to the sickle cell anemia. The first loss was brutal and devastating for her, and she was still in mourning when another death was broken to her. By the time she was told that her fourth child was dead, she couldn’t even cry. She only raised her hand to the skies and said like Job “The Lord gives, The Lord takes”. It wasn’t that this old woman loved one child over the other, but over time, loss had toughened her to the extent that she had no more grieving to do; no more strength to cry. Sometimes, it is that way when a woman gets pregnant after infertility; especially if she has suffered disappointment after disappointment, while waiting for a baby. Most times, until she gives birth and holds the baby in her arms, she isn’t going to let her guard down, and would simply move through the motions during pregnancy.
Before I got married, I witnessed one of my sister’s friends go through this when she was pregnant. She beat herself up worrying about the fact that she was pregnant, instead of being happy. “Why can’t I just count my joy! Why can’t I just relax and enjoy this journey? Why do I think that it would end up in another loss? Why am I being so unfair to this child and to everyone around me” I walked in on them one afternoon, as she cried in my sister’s arms. This lady had suffered a stillbirth previously, from prolonged and tedious labour. She couldn’t push aside that fear that cramped her heart, and although she hated the way she was feeling, she didn’t know what to do about it. She fussed over everything, eventually developed pregnancy induced high blood pressure, and had to have an emergency C-section. Luckily, she and the baby made it, and she has even gone on to have another baby since then.
We all react to different situations in different ways, and we all have coping mechanisms for dealing with the curve balls that life flings our way. A journey through infertility comes with its own baggage, and can sometimes linger on throughout pregnancy. A woman can become jaded and closed in as a result of grief over previous losses, years and years of failure, anxiety, and the worry that her body might not be strong enough to get through pregnancy and delivery. Even I that didn’t go through years and years of infertility, approached every scan examination or heartbeat assessment with fear and trembling. Is my baby still alive? Is she still moving? Is her heart beating okay? If I went through one entire night without noticing a kick in my belly, I was calling my doctor straight up the next morning. There is just that part of us that wants to protect our hearts from not getting shattered again. We act in a ‘hope for the best, but prepare for the worst’ manner, say long prayers, but shiver at the slightest sight of blood or cramping. But who can blame us?
One sure way to get through these anxiety filled months until the baby pops, is to have a solid support system that would forever be there to assure you that everything would be fine. I had my husband, OB/GYN, sisters, friends and other relatives that were sure to have one word of encouragement for me, or the other. I also found out that praying; the kind where you just pour out your heart and soul to God, also helps. So does reading the Bible, or any material that you can derive peace from. The nagging thoughts would come still, but you would be better able to manage them and respond positively. I have learnt that, because a thought came into my mind, doesn’t mean it came from me. How we respond to negative thoughts determines whether our circumstances would be ruled by them, or not. If you learn to practice really simple pregnancy yoga as well, it would be great, because you clear your mind and only focus on positive thoughts. In fact, when I was pregnant, the only yoga I did was to sit on a mat or the center rug, fold my legs under my bum, raise my arms in “Namaste” mode, close my eyes and just visualize positive outcomes only. If I found my mind wandering to a negative zone, I would quickly pull myself back and continue with my positive thoughts.
Final tips: fill your reading moments with wonderful birth stories and books. My favorites then were “The Supernatural Birth” and “Spiritual Midwifery”. Those stories will spur you on, and you also get wonderful scripture verses to use while praying. Completely avoid watching birth shows on TV! It also helps if you do not symptom-spot. Dr. Google can give you misinformation, so it’s best to turn to your doctor, or nurse, if you have any concerns.
God speed to us all
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