Here are a few things a mother may experience when she's expecting after a miscarriage...
Losing a baby to miscarriage is a jarring and painful process. Your loss often takes you completely by surprise and leaves you hurting emotionally and physically. But there’s another similar journey that is especially difficult, yet ultimately joyful, and that experience is the pregnancy after a miscarriage. If that pregnancy ends with a living baby, that baby is called a rainbow baby(meaning that after the storm of a miscarriage, you were blessed with the beauty and hope of a child to hold, signified by a rainbow).
I experienced giving birth to a baby recently who came after three miscarriages. It was a very strange time that was incredibly beautiful but very emotionally challenging. Here are a few things a mother may experience during her pregnancy after a miscarriage …
Your pregnancy with a rainbow baby might be simultaneously the most joyful and terrifying experience you’ve ever had.
Every new week you reach in your pregnancy is joyful and exciting. But every new week, and particularly every doctor’s appointment you have, especially before you can feel the baby move, might be nerve-wracking — as you wonder each time whether they will hear the baby’s heartbeat. The time leading up to the week that you lost the baby you miscarried previously is particularly difficult. And while you will probably feel much more confident after you’ve passed that particular week, you may still have shots of worry that crop up at the most unexpected times.
You may grieve in different and unexpected ways throughout pregnancy and even after delivery, and that’s okay.
I was very anxious throughout the first trimester, and especially right before my first appointment. I didn’t think I could possibly be carrying a baby who would survive. After hearing the heartbeat and getting past the first trimester, I grew more relaxed and it was easier to allow myself to imagine I might get to hold this baby.
But some of my grief from previous miscarriages surfaced in strange ways throughout the whole nine months and after. For example, my mom threw me a baby shower to celebrate this new life, and I decided to only put books on the registry — and they were all books that my older son would appreciate in case the baby I was pregnant with didn’t make it.
Then, it took about a month after my rainbow baby was born for me to stop being happily surprised when I would check on him and find him still breathing. The one day I checked on him and assumed he would be alive was a very good and healing day.
The prayers and support you receive from the friends and family are indispensable.
I had friends and family who knew what I had gone through before with miscarriage. It was so important for me to be able to share and talk about what I was feeling with them. They helped me immensely, especially in those first few months. And knowing that people were praying with me and walking with me no matter what happened to the baby enabled me to keep going.
One tangible way to help a mother who is pregnant after miscarriage is through an expectant mother prayer enrollment. There is an order of Carmelite sisters in Los Angeles who will pray for a pregnant mother and her child. You can enroll someone you know here. They send the mother a beautiful card to tell her of their prayers. This was an incredibly helpful and consoling gift to have during my rainbow baby pregnancy.
To all moms pregnant again after a miscarriage, hang in there. Embrace the joyful moments, and just focus on the beauty of each day you get to spend pregnant. When fear comes knocking, as it most certainly will, know that it is normal and don’t let go of hope. St. Gerard Majella, patron of expectant mothers, pray for us!
Saints who lost a child to miscarriage