Another key skill from ACT I had to use to get as far as my second pregnancy was psychological flexibility – the idea that you need to flexibly use the right skill at the right time and bring your knowledge in when you need it. So I needed mindfulness, defusion, clarity on my values, a broader perspective that my life was bigger than pregnancy and commited action to cope.
My first move was to follow my reverse compass albeit involuntarily by waiting to have a period before trying to get pregnant again. I found that frustrating at the time, and struggled with not being able to go after what I wanted. I also particularly struggled with other people’s pregnancy announcements then – a bit like they’d won a game of tennis I hadn’t been able to compete in due to an arm injury. It was Christmas when I was working through that, and I found it hard to put a happy face on for family and friends when my mood was on the floor. I was sad too that when I was pregnant I’d had visualisations of announcing my pregnancy around then, whereas instead I was grieving the loss of it and not knowing when or if it’d happen again. I also struggled with the well meant cliché s other people who did know about my loss shared – “it’ll happen when it’s ready”, “you haven’t been trying that long” and the also well intended “So are you thinking of having a baby soon?” from people who didn’t. I struggled with my emotions of sadness, guilt and shame around my loss and fear and desperate longing around trying again.
When we started trying again it was New Year and I embraced it like a new years resolution – Ovia, healthy diet, conception vitamins, supplements meant to increase the chances. My other half protested both about taking conception vitamins and my supplements – he was also a bit bemused about the reduction in wine intake. He was unconvinced the effort was either necessary or helpful. I then obsessively watched my symptoms once my fertile window was over until my period was due. I joined a Mumsnet support thread for women trying to get pregnant again after a loss and there I found empathy, validation, compassion and identification – my emotional crutch at that point of the month particularly.
I was flat and disappointed when the pregnancy tests I took refused to show a second line that cycle and then my period started, confirming I wasn’t pregnant. I consoled myself that I could at least allow myself coffee, wine, chocolate and running for a couple of weeks. That then gave me – and my long suffering other half – enough of a boost to try again in my next fertile window.
Another anxious two weeks later and another line appeared on my pregnancy test. It wasn’t as convincing a line as with my first pregnancy but it was definitely there. My heart got hopefully while my more cynical other half told me not to get my hopes up. Sadly, he was right. This time the miscarriage started suddenly at work. I phoned my GP who confirmed I was probably right about it being another miscarriage and mentioned that old school advice would have been to wait 6 months before trying again. I was horrified. I couldn’t have followed that. I also phoned the early pregnancy unit who gave me a follow up appointment for blood tests due to the previous suspicion of ectopic pregnancy and my increased chance of having one. Luckily for me, the follow up appointment ruled that out, but it’s a fear I’ll always carry prior to a scan due to the risk. What I find sad in retrospect is that I hid my miscarriage from my colleagues and went about my work as normal. I was in the same state of shock as with my first miscarriage, which made me numb, pragmatic and want to do something positive I could control, since I couldn’t stop myself miscarrying. It also made me sad that I’d named that pregnancy baby rainbow, and I’d seen a beautiful rainbow that morning on my way to work – like the baby had been saying “bye mummy, I’m off to play over the rainbow now”. I had a feeling she was a girl – I like to picture her swooping and looping with the bluebirds. “Somewhere over the rainbow” is my favourite lullaby to sing to my children at bedtime – I always think of my miscarried babies then too, and sing for them all.