March is Pregnancy after Loss (PAL) Awareness Month and although PAL Awareness Month has been celebrated since 2012, I only became aware of it last week. So why is there a need to spend an entire month raising awareness for a great thing like pregnancy after loss? And shouldn’t we just be glad to be pregnant again? Truly, unless you have experienced it yourself, I can see how this may be hard to understand but I think being a loss mom, I get it. I have experienced being pregnant after loss 3 times. The first ended in another loss and the next 2 pregnancies gave me my daughter and son. PAL is a blessing and there are so many things to be grateful for when you become pregnant again. PAL is having people pray for you and your unborn child, having them cook for you and be genuinely happy for you.
During those pregnancies I experienced many things, and I hope by sharing some of these with you, you can understand why there is a need to raise awareness and support for women who are in the process of PAL. So here is what pregnancy after loss was like for me:
PAL is whispered prayers through-out the day begging God to save your baby or give you the strength to endure another loss.
PAL is having every doctor you see tell you that your ‘history’ makes this a high risk pregnancy.
PAL is constantly running to the bathroom to check to make sure there is no blood on your underwear or any other sign that you have started to miscarry again.
PAL is listening to people’s opinions about you being pregnant again so soon after your loss.
PAL is fighting the urge to take pregnancy tests over and over again just to make sure you are still pregnant.
PAL is people not understanding that you still miss your dead babies.
PAL is feeling sad, then happy, then guilty.
PAL is getting so nervous you get a headache every time you visit your OB/GYN.
PAL is only realizing you’ve been holding your breath when you finally hear the heartbeat and release a breath of relief.
PAL is not wanting to tell anyone that you are pregnant again because you aren’t sure if they will be there for you when this baby dies too.
PAL is people offering to throw you baby showers and not understanding that you just aren’t there yet.
PAL is smiling politely while people tell you about everyone they know who had a miscarriage but then had 8 or 9 healthy babies but really all you want is one baby.
PAL is thinking that every pain or cramp is the beginning of the next miscarriage.
PAL is people asking what name you chose but you don’t want to say yet because you have to wait and see what happens first.
PAL is dealing with unsolicited advice about what you can and cannot do now that you are pregnant again.
PAL is being cautiously optimistic with your partner and then hoping it wasn’t a mistake to get his hopes up.
PAL is using the phrase “viable pregnancy” and hating yourself for it.
PAL is googling everything pregnancy related then regretting that you googled anything pregnancy related.
PAL is hoping to feel nauseous as a sign that you are still pregnant.
PAL is making the decision to either stop working or risk losing your baby
PAL is bed rest for months. Twice.
PAL is having to deal with life and all that it throws at you when all you want to do is fall asleep and wake up when your baby is here
PAL is being especially protective of your bump and getting mad when strangers come too close.
PAL is fighting your own thoughts and trying to stay positive but you have been here before and you know a little part of you expects it to fall apart again.
PAL puts a lot of strain on a woman’s physical, emotional and mental well being and while this is true of all pregnancies (after loss or not), there is still much to learn about ways that we can show support to women who are currently experiencing PAL. And this is why awareness and education are important.
If you are looking for resources to help you as you go through pregnancy after loss or to support women or families, you can check out this website.