It is wonderful to become pregnant after a miscarriage, often called a “rainbow baby.” But my naivety from the first time—where I was in complete denial that anything could go wrong—is gone.
My husband’s Jewish family taught me that in their culture, they do not say “mazal tov” (congratulations) until after the baby is delivered. Before, they say “be’sha’ah tovah” (in good time). Many Jewish couples do not have baby showers or buy things for the baby until after the baby is born, for celebrating something before it happens may bring about “ayin hara” (the evil eye). Now I have a better understanding of why the custom is to wait.
When I think about my first pregnancy, I don’t think about the multiple visits to the emergency department or how bad methotrexate made me feel. What makes me sad is the memory of how happy my husband and I were the day I had a positive pregnancy test, when we joyfully discussed names and made plans for this little one.
However, not getting excited is not our style.
Now we celebrate each stage in the pregnancy as a victory in its own right. My OBGYN ordered an ultrasound at five weeks—when the most you can see is a yolk sac within a gestational sac—to rule out another ectopic pregnancy. Our wonderful ultrasound tech apologized that we had to come in for a scan so early.
“You probably don’t want a picture like we normally do since it’s not a baby picture,” she said.
But I cried happy tears at the beautiful, perfect yolk sac. “Oh, no! Please print it out for us!” And we still have it on our refrigerator—evidence that our little guy made it down the fallopian tube and was busy setting up a nest.
Each week is a celebration. Each ultrasound, each OBGYN visit where the baby and I are still healthy, each centimeter my belly grows… every day without a complication is a win. Even morning sickness. I say this now since it passed when my second trimester began, but it was a positive indicator that the pregnancy was real and happening.
What helped me most were words from my sister (a mother of three) that did not ease my anxiety. I asked if, at some point, I would feel confident that the pregnancy was viable, the baby was healthy, and that everything would be good.
“To be honest, no,” she said.
“You’ll feel kicks, but then sometimes it will feel like it’s been too long since the last kick. When the baby is born, you’ll double check their breathing while they sleep and overthink feeding them. And then the baby will go to into childcare and any time you get a phone call from an unknown number you’ll worry it’s about your baby. Then grade school, then high school, and so on… welcome to motherhood!”
At least the worry is normal. I’ll take the natural worries that spring from motherhood right along with the happiness.
In March 2019, Dr. Kelly Gleason had a miscarriage and was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. She wrote about her experience.
- In One Week I Was Pregnant, I Miscarried, and I Was Diagnosed with a Life-Threatening Complication I Didn’t Understand
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: KELLY GLEASON
Kelly Gleason, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing, teaches informatics. In her research, she aims to develop methods of reducing diagnostic error through patient-facing health information technology tools.