As soon as the girls were born I felt broody. It didn’t feel natural and that often made me confused. I had given birth to my girls, they were here with me, so why was I experiencing this overwhelming feeling of broodiness? I remember walking around Mothercare jealous of all the mums with their big bumps, their babies still safe inside their tummies, or seeing parents out shopping with their newborns.
It wasn’t until I spoke to my counsellor in June that I stopped being jealous of other mum’s bumps. She rationalised it by saying that when thinking of buying a particular car, all the cars on the road seem to be that one. We discussed how I had built up a picture and presumed that every bump I saw was going to turn into a beautiful healthy baby who would go home in the space of a few days after being born. However, I am sadly only too aware that this is not always the case and not all babies are born healthy. Since that session, I have been able to move on from those jealous thoughts and my whole perspective of seeing expecting mothers changed. Whether I know them or not, I have been able to enjoy conversations with them about their bumps and feel excited for them rather than jealous or bitter. That in itself is a relief and brought me another step closer to feeling emotionally ready for trying for another baby.
Many times I have put my broodiness down to the fact that I had been robbed of the full pregnancy with the twins. I hadn’t even made it to my third trimester (28 weeks pregnant). I missed my girls being in my tummy, feeling their kicks and guessing which body part was sticking up. As I wasn’t able to hold them in my arms or have them with me when they were born, I was left feeling lost and empty.
These feelings of broodiness only strengthened when Esme died. I was desperate for my arms to be filled with two babies. However, I was also guilty. Guilty that I should be grateful that I had Charlotte, who was then only a few months old, to cuddle, to hold and to mother, and yet guilty too that I had only just lost Esme and was wanting another baby.
After my postnatal debrief in November, we were advised to wait at least a year before we started to try again. The consultant also advised that we made sure we were emotionally ready, too. With regards to my caesarean, I was pleased to learn that if I did go onto have another baby, I should be able to have a natural delivery. I was delighted, as this was something else I felt robbed of. It was very reassuring to hear that there was no obvious reason why Charlotte’s waters went so early, so future pregnancies should be low risk. However the consultant advised getting an early scan to see if it was a single or multiple pregnancy.
I couldn’t wait to start trying for another baby in July. I was more ready than Connor. He wanted Charlotte to have another brother or sister but he was frightened of history repeating itself. I was too, but I couldn’t hold back or hide these feelings of so desperately wanting another baby.
By May, I became anxious that, although my body wanted another baby, I wasn’t 100% sure I was emotionally ready for one as I had many unanswered questions. Becoming a mother and having the chance to raise Charlotte has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I felt that I was over-analysing all my thoughts about having another baby. Was it because being a mother was something I loved so much and I just wanted the big family I had so often dreamt of? Was it because I wanted the chance to prove to myself that my body could carry a baby to full term? Was it because I had had the girls prematurely? Was it because I never got to enjoy my massive bump? Was it because I had lost a baby?
I searched for reassurance that these questions were only natural but found very little that really helped me. I phoned up Bliss charity to ask their advice. “Was it normal for me to be feeling broody because I had lost my bump so early and had also lost one of my babies?” The lady on the phone listened but was unable to give me an answer. It was not until I came across a statistic from the charity Sands (Stillborn And Neonatal Deaths), which explained that a high percentage of women become pregnant in the first year after losing a baby. This made me feel better and gave me a sense of normality. Although I had Charlotte, I had still suffered the loss of a full term pregnancy and the loss of a baby.
I also looked up the definition of ‘rainbow baby’ as I had seen many mothers on social media write about their rainbow baby but was unsure of the meaning. “A rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. This term is given to these special rainbow babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come.” (https://www.thebump.com/a/rainbow-baby)
To me, a rainbow baby sounded a little strange but when I read the definition, the words rang so true. Hope is exactly what I dream of. Hope of having a big bump, hope of bringing home another baby and hope of holding two babies in my arms again.
I became a little obsessed with wanting to know the age gap between friend’s siblings and attempting to calculate how old their first one was when they started trying for their second. I’m not too sure why, maybe I just needed the go ahead that it was perfectly natural to have your children with a small age gap rather than bringing all other thoughts such as baby loss and prematurity into the mix.
When July arrived, the timing for getting pregnant wasn’t right. I was working until the end of July and it was a very busy month of birthdays and weddings. There was just too much going on.
With the help of my counselling, I felt a hell of a lot stronger and in a much better place than I did a few months earlier. By midsummer, Connor was on board with trying for another baby and although we both had our fears we were ready to embrace and tackle them.
We went to the South of France for the first two weeks of September and my initial thoughts of ‘when it happens, it happens’ went firmly out of the window. I watched my fertility calendar like a hawk and Googled every question under the sun about when was the best time of the month to try for a baby. Poor Connor!!
Three weeks into my cycle, I Googled ‘early signs of pregnancy’, wondering if I was pregnant or not. I am very impatient when it comes to these sorts of things and decided to do an early pregnancy test. I had told Connor I would wait until he got home but Charlotte was having her afternoon nap and I couldn’t think of doing anything but taking the test.
I had a feeling that there was a good chance I could be pregnant but was still apprehensive of seeing a negative result. As I sat staring at the test, I began to see two faint lines appear, indicating that I was pregnant. I have cried many tears over the past year but very few have been tears of utter joy. I closed my eyes and cherished the moment of feeling the joyful tears rolling down my face. I was pregnant!
As I opened my eyes and looked at the test again, I was devastated that I could hardly see the second line. I went to just about every window in the house to try and achieve better light to check that there were two lines. I thought I could see two lines but wasn’t sure if it was my mind playing tricks on me. I phoned Connor at work, made sure he was somewhere quiet and excitedly told him “I think I am pregnant but I’m not entirely sure as the lines are so faint.” He was also excited to hear the news. I then photographed the test and sent it to a friend and my sister to get their verdict. The feelings of disappointment and frustration were annoyingly starting to replace my happiness. They replied promptly saying it was exactly the same for them and they had gone out and bought another test. I spent the rest of the day analysing the test and trying to convince myself I could see two lines.
The next day I bought another test and my happiness returned as it also showed a faint positive. I was pretty certain I was pregnant, but I did another test the following day to be sure. That showed a definite positive. I was absolutely thrilled.
In the first eight weeks after finding out I was pregnant I was terrified of becoming too attached to this baby. The blissful naivety and excitement at being pregnant that I had experienced the first time was gone because I knew what could happen and the pain of having my heart broken. I spent many weeks in denial, not wanting to believe and also scared to acknowledge that I was pregnant. When I spoke to Connor about this, he too felt the same. As I sat in the waiting room for my first midwife appointment, I watched a happy couple come out of what I presumed was the midwife’s room. The mum was carrying her pregnancy notes and file and the dad was practically skipping, unable to hide his excitement. I was struck that I felt sad not to be in their shoes, yet they reminded me of happy memories. Once upon a time, that was me.
When I was nine weeks pregnant, Connor and I went for our first appointment with the consultant to find out if I was pregnant with one baby or with twins. We sat in the waiting room for what felt like hours. We came to the conclusion that we simply couldn’t do anything about what would happen. It was now out of our control and what would be would be. Connor wanted it to be just one baby this time but deep down I wanted to be pregnant with twins again. Even though I knew it was nothing to do with my body, I wanted the chance to prove that I could carry twins and to have the opportunity to hopefully have a successful twin pregnancy and raise twins.
Upon meeting the consultant, our minds were immediately put at ease. He acknowledged what had happened, was extremely empathetic and respected the fact that we would, of course, be anxious about this pregnancy. It felt good to hear his kind words and condolences. We were also joined by a senior student and despite the serious tone of the conversation there was a light-hearted atmosphere in the room, in which we were able to smile and share our thoughts and worries.
We soon decided to get on with the scan, to find out how many babies I was carrying. I was filled with feelings of nervousness and excitement.
The senior student proceeded with the scan, she said, “There’s your baby and there’s their heartbeat.” We then listened to the sound. What should have been a beautiful moment was not as I anticipated. I didn’t want to listen to the heartbeat, I was too eager to know if there was only one. I asked “How many heartbeats are in there?” The consultant laughed and said, “Yes of course, let’s get onto the important things.” I burst into nervous giggles, realising how impatient I sounded.
She had a good look and confirmed there was definitely only one baby. Initially I was deflated. I wanted there to be two babies, two heartbeats. I smiled and hoped my disappointment didn’t show.
The consultant drew a diagram of one of the possible reasons why Charlotte’s waters might have gone early, although we will never know the actual reason. It could have been because my cervix wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight of two babies, so it released Twin 1’s (Charlotte’s) waters at 24 weeks, thereby releasing the pressure on the cervix, although my cervix remained closed and I didn’t go into labour for another seventeen days, Charlotte was without her waters and open to catching an infection from the outside world.
We discussed our plan of action for this pregnancy and between 16 and 26 weeks I was to be closely monitored by the consultants. This involved measuring my cervix to see if it was weakening and checking that I was ok. The consultant had put our minds at ease and Connor and I left the hospital in a different mind-set. We were in safe hands, going to be well looked after and for the first time since finding out I was pregnant, we both felt very excited about the arrival of this baby.
I spoke to Connor about being gutted it wasn’t twins and he explained his excitement that there was just one. He did change my mind and I realised all the advantages of a single pregnancy, the main one being that it would help me to understand that this was a completely different pregnancy and also we would have more time with Charlotte when the baby arrived.
One day at a time
I have treated this pregnancy, like I have each day since the girls arrived, one day at a time. However this pregnancy turns out, I feel grateful for being blessed with the chance to bring another life into the world. I’ve learnt from combating and hopefully overcoming my anxiety that, although it may always be there to some degree, it is in my best interests to take no notice of those anxious thoughts. So, for that reason, I’m taking each day as it comes and being excited rather than worried about what the future holds.
Meeting the consultant was such a reassuring experience and if I keep focusing on each day, I am excited about this pregnancy. I’m currently unable to imagine the day when I take this bundle home. I’m unable to think about holding two of my babies in my arms again. It doesn’t seem real. All I can do to stay positive is to focus on the now and enjoy my little growing bump. Despite the horrendous nausea I love the fact that I am pregnant.
My nausea this time has been different to carrying twins. This time, I am actually sick if I don’t eat. This often happens at the most inconvenient of times, such as shopping in town when I have to hide behind a brick wall or crouch between two cars, in a car park surrounded by a busy building site. Pooey nappies and meal times have been a big struggle and I am unable to get out of bed in the morning without eating at least two ginger nut biscuits.
Over the past few months the cupboards have been filled with every cereal box imaginable. During my early pregnancy it was all about the Weetos and Coco Pops, now into my second trimester I have graduated onto Bran Flakes and a banana in the morning and Fruit and Fibre for supper. All have to be served with cold, cold milk.
Connor never knows what food is going to come back from the supermarket with me or what he will have for dinner, and don’t mention the word “chicken” to me! Bleurgh!!!! Or, actually, don’t even talk about food for that matter.
At 15 weeks pregnant I hit a brick wall. Up to then, I had done really well at keeping myself busy and focusing only on each day. By mid-afternoon on 13th December I had been to the shops, cooked a shepherd’s pie and the house was spotless. I wasn’t even stressing that the shelves to go up in the lounge had been encroaching on my beautifully decorated Christmas tree. I had however had my first night and morning of struggling with the prospect of bringing this baby home. That night recurring questions and upsetting thoughts occupied my mind, “What if the day never comes when I can take this baby home?” “What if I have to organise another funeral for my son or daughter?” “What if I have to watch them take their last breath again and say goodbye?”
I mentioned all of these fears to the consultant at my sixteen-week appointment, he nodded and said “Of course, it is only natural for you to have these thoughts.” I was reassured and back on track. That was all I needed to hear and I reminded myself that this is a completely different pregnancy.
I am excited that my pregnancy buddies are my sister, who is only five weeks ahead of me and a friend who has a little girl Charlotte’s age. I have enjoyed discussing nausea tactics and the trickiness of raising a one year old whilst thinking you are about to puke all over their face.
To keep my mind busy I have started knitting again and have had great enjoyment making hats for friends while feeling this little one wriggle around. To stay hopeful, I’m going to knit a blanket for this baby.
While writing this post, I Googled ‘rainbow baby’ again. I found it reassuring that the website (thebump.com) talks about the feelings of hope that a rainbow baby brings, but also the mother’s feelings of guilt and the fears of moving on or replacing the baby they lost. During my low points or feelings of high anxiety since becoming pregnant, I have experienced these too. When I am feeling anxious, I am scared that when I get the chance of holding ‘it’ I won’t experience the same amount of love that I have for Charlotte and Esme. I am scared that a part of me will want it to be Esme and of course it won’t be, because I know she is never coming back. And I am scared of the guilt that I am replacing Esme even though I know I’m not. I understand that she never will be replaced, and also that we’re not having another baby to replace the loss. Yet these thoughts are all so complex and entwined.
I am now nineteen weeks pregnant and so far everything is as it should be. I’m mentally in the best place I have ever been. I’m stronger, in control of my anxiety and happy in my own skin. I’m doing my best to enjoy this pregnancy and focus on the now. I’m relieved my nausea is fading and my love of food, thankfully, returning. I love my forever growing bump and all the little kicks I feel. I’d like to say that I will be wearing these shoes when I reach 24 weeks (when Charlotte’s waters went) but those shoes are for another day. One step at a time for now.