And, the snow continues. I have lived here for six years and this is the most ‘winter’ I have seen. I am hoping that, because we are experiencing winter, it will mean that summer comes this year. Fingers crossed.
It has been another busy month. My job means that I seem to encounter numbers of individuals who are going through the same situation at the present time. Last month it was fatal abnormalities. This month it is pregnancy.
I am not talking about a ‘normal’ pregnancy. I am referring to a Pregnancy After Loss (PAL). Although any pregnancy can be a stressful, emotional, and anxious time, in a PAL, this is in even more so.
I remember being pregnant after losing Patrick. It was an extremely emotional time filled with anxiety, worry, doubt, and unreasonable thoughts. Although I had an older child, I doubted that I could have another. I had lost all trust in my ability to produce children. Something so natural had become an obstacle. And for no other reason than my own unreasonable doubt. But, although it was unreasonable, it was still understandable due to what I had been through. And this is the case for so many other women and their families.
People tell us to calm down. People say that everything will be fine. Well wishers state, ‘you’re young, at least you can have another child’. Firstly, no sentence starting with ‘at least’ is ever a good one to say to someone who has lost a child. Secondly, even if a person goes on to have another child, that does not mean that their other child ceases to exist. One does not replace the other.
But, there is little understanding. There is no sympathy for the emotional and mental anguish which a woman experiences during a PAL. The thoughts and feelings of the pregnant women are not an over-reaction. Mothers tell me that they are told that they are ‘working themselves up into a state’. This is not true.
Even if all scans and tests show that the pregnancy is progressing as ‘normal’, the sense of loss never lifts. The loss of a child leaves a mark that has a ripple effect in every other area of life. For someone who has experienced the loss of a child, we know how quickly it can all end badly. One day they are kicking inside, the next day they are gone.
Statistically, a large number of women get pregnant within the first year after loss. For a lot of women I encounter, their concern is the care which they will receive during their PAL. Unfortunately for most, the care is the same. Although they do not want to be pandered too, they would like an extra scan just for reassurance. They would like appointments with the midwife to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. But, none of these things happen. When women are denied an extra scan, it can be very distressing for them.
I understand. Really, I do. We all know how much pressure the health service is under. But, there should be some variation to the standardised care which a pregnant women can expect after she has lost a baby. There should.
Until this happens, thankfully, there are support services available for this group of women and their families. Although they cannot provide scans, they can provide so many other services. There are so many groups out there which we should look for, use, and be thankful that they are there. Whatever situation you are in, reach out for those services. They are there for a reason.