Pregnancy after loss is difficult. I guess I was under some illusion that getting pregnant would just magically be this blissful experience. I wanted to be excited and feel all of the joy that most people feel while they go through the experience. However, after two miscarriages I found very little joy in the process. There were several people who told me not to wish it away, but there was so much worry associated that I couldn’t help but count down the weeks until each milestone. I had a lot of what we’ll call intrusive thoughts in pregnancy that I’d like to discuss so people know what to be aware of and that they aren’t alone.
1.”If I do X, something bad will happen.”
If I announce my pregnancy, I’ll lose it.
If I don’t part in the same spot, I’ll get bad news.
Even as far as- if I don’t wear the same clothes to the appointment, I’ll get bad news.
The list of these situations goes on and on and on. It was so dang bad that I wouldn’t even cut my toenails. If I cut my toenails, something will go wrong. It sounds so crazy to say that out loud but nearly everything I did felt like it could lead to some sort of consequence. Probably some TMI here but I didn’t cut my toenails until I was nearly 20 weeks pregnant! I couldn’t get over the mental part of me that was sure anything I did would make something go wrong. It was a constant mental battle to try to get past it and to get things done around the house.
2. I’m going to choke and/or trip.
I’m going to choke on everything. To be fair, that stringy cheese (like that of mozzarella sticks) and steak has always made me a little nervous. This took it a step further. EVERYTHING. I am terrified that I am going to choke on a piece of bread and an apple. There were a couple times I felt like I was close and I was just fine. I’ve been eating for 32 years now and it hasn’t killed me. All the sudden I get pregnant and I forget how to chew my food.
There were also a lot of times I’d look at the stairs in fear. I walk up and down them every day, literally. All of the sudden my basement stairs are going to take me down. Now, to be fair, I have fallen down many a set of stairs in the winter time. It wasn’t winter. I wasn’t outside. The thought was irrational but I still had it many times!
3. Not being able to buy a crib.
I set many goals for myself around buying a crib in pregnancy. The first goal was when we hit 20 weeks. I even wrote it down in my planner that week- buy a crib! Only to end up crossing it out because I couldn’t convince myself to do it. Then I said, okay we’re going to buy a crib at our next high risk appt (with ultrasound). That will confirm that the baby is okay and if there is something wrong then we can hold off. This appointment was at 23 weeks. The appointment came and went. When I told myself to order a crib I decided to change it to waiting until 24 weeks. 24 weeks is viability and that would be more safe than 23. Even though the appointment at 23 weeks showed a perfectly average healthy baby.
Each milestone came and went and no crib was ordered. Finally one day I was in the mood to order it and I pulled the trigger. The point is, the mood hit and I took advantage. It’s one of the most important pieces I’ve learned on this journey. If you think you can do it, don’t let that moment pass.
4. Doing Things Too Soon
The entire pregnancy was consumed with trying to make sure I adhered to some imaginary timeline. I’m not even sure where it came from! Everything that I did was either too soon or too late. I didn’t do a load of laundry until I was almost 29 weeks…gasp! I had my baby shower when I was still in my second trimester…gasp! Somehow, nothing felt like I was doing it at the right time.
Naturally, I wanted most of what I was doing to be complete by the time I hit my third trimester. As someone with a high risk pregnancy, that third trimester was intimidating. I wanted to be ready before each and every appointment just in case I didn’t come home without a baby. Let me tell you, that plan went out the window. At 28 weeks my nursery looked like a cyclone went through it. I was struggling to convince myself to open packages and cut tags (another intrusive thought in pregnancy). My best piece of advice here is to throw out any sort of timeline that you think you have. Just because someone else did it that way doesn’t mean that you have to. Do what makes you comfortable when it makes you comfortable.
5. Keeping Boxes / Packaging
Anyone else save all of the packaging and boxes for all of their baby supplies? Just me? Another one of my intrusive thoughts in pregnancy. I am convinced if I get rid of them we’ll be stuck with all this stuff and no baby. I’m not sure what keeping the boxes accomplished but in my brain it made things better. We lugged the big boxes, bags, etc. down to the basement for storage for awhile. My thought process is that we’ll keep them at least until things were used and then we could get rid of them. Or I’d save them for when I wanted to sell said item. Let’s be real though, I hate clutter so I’m sure I’ll want to get rid of them as soon as the baby sits in each item.
In Summary: Intrusive Thoughts in Pregnancy
Our brains do wacky things in pregnancy. Well, our hormones certainly don’t help either! I think my case was especially wacky because we had prior losses that instilled a lot of fear in me. It made my brain constantly go to the worst case scenario, even in day to day situations. I don’t think any of this made me “crazy” either. It was just simply how I had to process the pregnancy and work through it. I never let any of these thoughts stop me but I did have to find ways to adapt and move around them. Learning to let go of the expectations that you have around pregnancy is super important.
It’s even more important to not let people around you dictate how you handle your pregnancy as well! Do things when you are ready to and how you want to do them- or don’t do them at all! Just rest assured that what you are feeling is likely very normal and has been felt by others.
If you are concerned, don’t hesitate to bring it up to your doctor and seek out the help that you need!