We are officially halfway there! Halfway done with this pregnancy… halfway to meeting our little baby boy! 20-weeks marks a huge milestone! I feel like milestones, both big and small, are what help us make it through pregnancies after loss. They make our pregnancy feel less overwhelming in the moment. I use milestones as a way to chip off smaller chunks of my pregnancy, so I’m not carrying the weight of the entire pregnancy on my shoulders all at one time. Huge milestones for me are making it past…
-7 weeks (my miscarriage)… check
-my first OB appointment… check
-the first trimester… check
-my birthday… check
-my anatomy scan… check
-the halfway point… check
– 24 weeks (point of viability)…
-the third trimester
-33 weeks (Emilia’s death)
-37 weeks (to term)
What do milestones look like for you? My list was some of my larger milestones. Sometimes it’s the smallest, most mundane moments in a pregnancy that can also feel like a victory. Maybe a milestone in your pregnancy is flourishing past a specific holiday or a particular week that was extremely difficult in a past pregnancy. My milestones have all been very much common milestones for other women. There has always been an underlying fear of mine that maybe my pregnancies would’t make it past the first trimester. I’ve always geared up for the off chance of receiving bad news at our anatomy scans. After loss, this turned into me worrying before every single OB appointment and those visits became minor milestones too. Gestation periods of past losses have also become milestones. Sometimes you breathe a little bit easier having past the points where previous losses occurred. The biggest milestone of them all has been the delivery of my babies! The final reward! Regardless of what milestones I do hit, I don’t breathe a sigh of relief until I’m holding that healthy baby in my arms! And even then I still tend to worry! That is our job as a mother, right? To always worry about our children.
I wish I had a simple trick to make my anxiety go away, but I have yet to learn a good coping mechanism to deal with the stresses of pregnancy after loss. Up to this point, I feel like I’m just trying to survive the pregnancy one day at a time. At one of my last OB appointments, I had mentioned to my OB my heightened anxiety related to the pregnancy. I asked my OB if she had any tips or advice to give to help ease the worries I was currently experiencing. I was really disappointed in the lack of resources presented to me. The only option she gave me was a referral to a therapist. It’s not that I’m against the idea of going to a therapist, but I don’t think it is exactly the route I would need to take just yet. Going straight to a therapist before trying home remedies seems a little extreme. Luckily around this same time, I stumbled upon an app specifically designed for women who are currently pregnant after a loss. Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) designed an app geared to support mothers (and their partners) throughout their entire emotional journey, focusing on the struggles and potential ups and downs that pregnancy after loss often present.
Why do I love this app? There are so many reasons. I don’t know about others, but pregnancy after loss often makes mefeel like I’m going crazy! Pregnancy is suppose to be such a joyful time! After loss, it is really hard to sit back and enjoy your pregnancy when all you can focus on is the possibility that this baby will die too. When you tell someone you are struggling with the stress, their first reaction is to send you to a Psychiatrist, rather than taking baby steps to address the issue. PALS has created an app that is relatable, that validates your worries, while also giving you tools that hopefully will help put some of your concerns at ease. Best yet, it’s free! This app is accessible to anyone who has a mobile device and the material is tailored to your gestation.
The PALS app is just like any other pregnancy app. It just includes additional resources for individuals who have experienced previous losses during pregnancy. The timeline of your app will include your baby’s gestational week and the total number of days left till your estimated due date. You are quickly greeted with a fruit or vegetable that represents the approximate size of your baby. The app goes on to include development facts about your baby and some pregnancy symptoms that you could be experiencing this week. What I love about the timeline, is that it also includes weekly snippets for mamas to read that are unique to PAL. For instance… my own Unique to PAL for this week focuses on reaching the halfway point. PALS recognizes that reaching 20-weeks can bring conflicting emotions. You may feel accomplished for being halfway done with the pregnancy or you may be feel sad for other reasons. Maybe you never reached 20-weeks in a previous pregnancy and this milestone is a sad reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. Regardless of how you feel, PALS takes this moment to acknowledge your feelings and reminds us to take our pregnancy day by day, or moment by moment if needed. The one thing we know, is that in this very moment, everything is okay.
The app also has forums, allowing users to connect with others within the community who have also lost a baby. How many times have you scrolled through the forums on a regular pregnancy app and been so frustrated with the comments section? Maybe a mom is complaining about her bump being too big or she is tired of pregnancy symptoms? Maybe she is vocalizing gender disappointment or is just saying something so naive you can’t help but get a little upset. All you can think of while reading other moms’ stories is “Just be happy yourbaby is healthy and alive!” There have been times when I have wanted to create posts within a forum centered around pregnancy after loss, but I have resisted the urge because I don’t know how well it would be received. PALS forum is wonderful, because it’s relatable. Loss plays such a huge role in our pregnancies after loss. We all need a forum to voice our struggles and know that we will receive helpful feedback from other individuals who understand our circumstances. Maybe I don’t need to specifically see a therapist. Maybe I just need a group of ladies to talk to who are also pregnant and who have also had a previous loss. Maybe we can help each other. PALS has a forum for just about anything you can imagine that relates to pregnancy after loss. You can find groups created for moms who are expecting babies born around the same time or for those who have experienced loss during a specific trimester. They even have groups for individuals who are trying to conceive after experiencing loss.
With the PALS app you can log important moments. Life can be hectic and it’s really easy to lose track of certain details throughout the day. There is no doubt that the tools section of the PALS app will help make remembering certain details about your pregnancy easier. The tools section allows you to document bump photos, make journal entries, track your baby’s movement, access a due date calculator, includes a list of birth resources, and a contraction counter. The photo booth is really fun, as you can add a fun rainbow sticker to each photo that also displays the week of each gestation. The journal can be self-soothing to write your thoughts down when speaking them out loud is too overwhelming. Make sure to check out this section, while planning out your pregnancy.
The self care toolkit is every PAL mamas dream! You’re not going crazy… you’re just pregnant! And past pregnancies that have ended with a sad story will undoubtedly leave you feeling vulnerable with subsequent pregnancies. Under the Self Care tab you can find mediations, affirmations, and copings skills to help with your safe keeping the next nine months. The self care section has 10+ meditation audio sessions to help reduce postnatal depression and the fear of labor. I absolutely love the Affirmations page. Sometimes we just need some positive reinforcement to give us a pick-me-up when we are feeling down and low. PALS has several motivational quotes to swipe through that helps provide motivation to make a positive change. When I went to my doctor earlier this month asking for advice on how to manage anxiety, I was left feeling underwhelmed with her response. PALS has an overwhelming amount of coping skills suggestions to help control stress. From avoiding triggers, finding a safe retreat, focusing on your breath, etc… PALS has 20+ coping skills to help you prepare and persevere through the hard moments of pregnancy.