Pregnancy after loss: Third trimester – the home stretch, again

Pregnancy after loss: Third trimester – the home stretch, again

This post is my third of three trimester posts during my second pregnancy. For my fellow pregnancy-after-loss parents – current, future and previous – in hopeful solidarity.

It is 2:09 a.m. and my worry is starting to subside, now that I feel assured that the baby in my belly is still alive.

It's a rough night; some of them are. Some days are. Some are easier than others. This night is nerve-wracking because this typically very active baby, who tends to be sensitive to my movement, didn't rouse as usual when I woke up and rolled to my other side or when got up and had half a glass of water. Suddenly wide awake and worried, I went to the kitchen, grabbed a few handfuls of honey-nut cereal and waited for movement to resume. It did. Then I ate some more cereal, because it's third trimester and it's 2 a.m. and that's what you do, dang it.

This is my snapshot of 29.5 weeks pregnant. I thank my pregnancy-after-loss book for letting me know I'm not crazy. Waking up in the middle of the night, anxious to feel the baby kick, worried that something may have gone wrong while you slept, apparently is a pretty common thing in a post-loss pregnancy. Earlier in this pregnancy I worried that something would go wrong and it would be my fault; now I get more concerned that something will go wrong and I won't know it or recognize it until it's too late.

Bless their hearts, even very understanding and sympathetic people don't always "get" the undercurrent of anxiety in a PAL, and that's OK. How could they/why should they? A few caring people have noted, rightly, that the condition that affected Nate (an arteriovenous malformation) wasn't genetic, and the likelihood of its recurrence is extremely low. I know that. But it's not an AVM that I'm concerned about. It's everything else. It's cord accidents, and preterm labor, and late-term stillbirth – all things that have happened not just to people I've read about but people I know.

Those thoughts linger. But then there are the other moments – the joy of feeling vigorous kicks and seeing how this little one responds to voices and, occasionally, getting to see his squirmy profile on an ultrasound. This little guy is such a delight. There are moments of happiness better than anything I've experienced in more than a year-and-a-half. That's why this trimester is the best, even for its anxieties and physical discomforts. And I finally (usually) feel like the distance to the 40-week mark is manageable.

4 a.m. Still awake. Turned off my 5:15 alarm and scrapped my plans for an extra-early start and a super-productive Saturday. But now, listening to a rising chorus of early birds outside, I am comforted and amused by what I can only guess is an elbow or a foot or a knee protruding from my side. Yep, this is my favorite trimester.

If you're in a pregnancy after loss, or you're hoping and trying to get there, here's what I wish for you: patience with yourself. I wish you a lot of patience with yourself, and then when that patience starts to unravel, I hope that you will grant yourself a little more.

And if you find yourself worrying from time to time, it doesn't mean you're weak-spirited or faithless or foolish. You're normal. And you can do this. You are doing it. It's amazing how comforting it can be when we remind ourselves of that.

• Christine LaFave Grace works as an editor and writer.

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