Trying after Stillbirth

After we were told that Sophie has passed away we were sent home for two days while awaiting the induction. This was probably the hardest part for me as I could feel that inside things had changed; my stomach was hard and heavy, Sophie was slumped to one side, at the bottom which made it very uncomfortable, and emotionally just knowing that she had passed away but was still inside me and frightened of what was to come was extremely difficult. Emotions can make you react in a way that some people can’t understand. 

During out time at the hospital before we were sent home the doctor was discussing the possibility of trying again and at the time I was adamant that it wasn’t going to happen… EVER! Well, you can imagine Paul’s surprise when the following day I turned around to him and said ‘once Sophie is born I want to try again straight away’ he was very shocked by this and thought that I wasn’t thinking clearly… which I now know I wasn’t! My emotional state at the time was, as you can imagine, all over the place. I remember feeling very guilty for admitting that I wanted to try again so soon, but after speaking to the Midwife I realised that actually, those feelings, are very normal. 

After we delivered Sophie we spoke, for the first time about trying again. Paul was, and still is, concerned that people might think we are trying to replace her… which was never the case! However, we still do crave one more to complete our family. So, we have decided that we will keep trying until April 2017, by which time we will stop if it hasn’t happened… This is a mutual agreement, and one which we are both happy with. We did, however, decide to wait for all the tests results to come back; not only from the post-mortem but also all the blood tests as we wanted to ensure that Sophie didn’t die from a genetic disorder. At the time, I didn’t want to wait but I am now really pleased that we did! If we hadn’t then they wouldn’t have discovered that I had antiphospholipid syndrome which was probably the cause of Sophie’s death (you can read Sophie’s story here), and also the probable cause for the miscarriage in 2015. Now that they have discovered this my odds of carrying a healthy baby to term are 75% – 80%… which is the same as any other pregnancy! So, we are much more confident now about trying again. 

When is it right to try again?

This is something that is personal to each couple, and no one else should try to influence them in any way. I am hoping that this post will help to answer this question.

Are You Physically Prepared?

With the physical aspect of trying again it is best to be guided by what your doctor recommends. My doctor recommended waiting until after my 6-week postnatal check-up, but each doctor will have their own recommendations based on your own personal circumstances, the reason for your loss and the method of delivery. They may also recommend that you take vitamin supplements for a set period of time to replenish the stores which reduced during pregnancy.

Are You Emotionally Prepared?

Your doctor can assess your physical state, but your emotional state is just as, if not more important when trying after a loss. In all honesty, no one knows for certain how they will react when they conceive after a stillbirth; psychologically it can affect you for the rest of your life, and although you move forward, when you conceive these feelings may come rushing back. However, there are a few questions that you could ask yourself when preparing to try again:

  • Have you had a chance to work through some of your grief?
  • How would you cope if you were to experience fertility problems?
  • How would you cope if you experienced the death of another baby?
  • Are you ready to cope with the stress of another pregnancy?
  • Do you want another baby—or do you want the baby who died?

It’s vitally important that you both begin to try again for the right reasons – this baby cannot and will not be the infant you lost.

There are advantages and disadvantages to waiting; you may have others to add to this list, and everybody is different.

Advantages of waiting Disadvantages of waiting
Allowing more time to grieve A longer period for you to worry about infertility and a subsequent loss
Family and friends might think that you’re completely ‘over it’ and offer less support The biological clock is ticking, and fertility drops each year
More time to physically heal  
Advantages of not waiting Disadvantages of not waiting
Gives you something to focus on You may not have dealt with your grief
It makes sense to try sooner if your over 35 Family and friends may not be as supportive
  Your body might not be ready to support a pregnancy

 Talk about your feelings with your partner

Do you both feel the same? It’s important to discuss and listen to each other. I know Paul was shocked and overwhelmed by my eagerness to try again so soon. Women can sometimes become obsessive and carried away, while very often, for the man, it takes time to want to try again. So, you really need to listen to each other in order to agree on a course of action that you are both comfortable with.

Emotions while Trying Again

Trying to conceive can be torturous and frustrating… even for people who haven’t experienced a loss. Women can easily become obsessive as the months go on (charting, taking temperatures, buying ovulation predictor kits etc). Very often people lose sight of the intimacy and sex becomes robotic… this can make things much harder, not just to conceive, but also your desire to be together. For couples who have experienced a loss this can be even more challenging…. You want things to happen, but at the same time are scared of them happening. It is far better to just relax and let nature take its course; and you will then find that you enjoy the process rather than allowing your emotions to get in the way. 

What Others Think

It is a fact that everybody will have their own opinions on whether or not you should try again. However, ultimately that is down to you and your partner. Until I decided to write a post about this there were very few people that knew we were trying again… mainly because I didn’t want, or need to hear their opinion! Of the people we have told, we have had a range of opinions… from the supportive ‘we will stand by whatever you decide’ to ‘we think it’s a complete mistake’ but ultimately it is our decision, and with the doctors confident that they can manage the antiphospholipid syndrome I think we may regret it if we don’t ‘try’ once more. You can read a post about some of the comments we received here.

How to Know When You’re Ready

This is a really hard one to answer! You will have days when you are obsessed about trying again and really want it to happen asap, and then you’ll have days when fear takes over and you are terrified about conceiving and losing again. These are both completely normal emotions. Most people who have had a stillborn baby ‘just know’ when the time is right; it’s a gut instinct that takes over. However, I am under no illusion that pregnancy will never be the same again, I will worry about every single thing and will no longer be ‘relaxed’ once I hit the 12-week milestone.

You have to ask yourself…. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? This is a personal question that only the couple can answer! Once you feel that the answer is yes, then you are ready to try again.

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