My husband and I lost our son, Richard, after an emergency delivery in 2016. Although we knew that we wanted to have more children, we never could have anticipated how difficult pregnancy after loss would be.
We became pregnant again about eight months after Richard's birth, and all seemed to be going well until about 18 weeks. It was through a standard blood draw that my doctors noticed an irregularity: I was experiencing an isoimmunised pregnancy (basically, my RH negative blood was incompatible with my RH positive baby's blood). I was already deemed to be a high-risk pregnancy, but this created a new standard of care. 
Throughout my first rainbow pregnancy, I was carefully cared for through frequent testing, ultrasounds, and doctors' appointments. I was encouraged to call anytime I noticed reduced movement or if I just needed reassurance that everything was okay. To be honest, I visited the local hospital several times because I was scared that something was wrong. More often than not, the medical staff was caring and understanding. 
During this pregnancy, I felt that my doctors took care to inform me of everything that was happening but also everything that had the potential to happen. I knew how important monitoring movement was and what reduced fetal movement truly felt like. However, it was only after my son's death that I became so knowledgeable. When Richard's movement drastically reduced on a Saturday in May, I thought that he was simply "running out of room." When I felt sick that Sunday, I chalked it up to typical pregnancy fatigue. When I had searing back pain on Monday, I never realized that I was experiencing labor contractions and that my son's movement had virtually stopped. When he was delivered on Monday night, I was scared, but I never thought that we would lose him. 
During my first and second rainbow pregnancies, I was knowledgeable because of the incredible loss communities online. I found organisations like Kicks Count and realised that I was ill-informed before.
I still battle with guilt at times, but I know that I made the best decisions I could have with the information I had at that time. I just wish that information like this was shared with me during my first pregnancy. 
Five years after Richard's birth, I'm creating my own community to support loss parents. I founded the organisation, Start Healing Together, which is dedicated to supporting educators experiencing pregnancy loss and infertility. Part of our mission is to educate others on how to talk to and provide support to those suffering through grief. It is important to be able to talk openly with one another so that everyone truly feels supported in these most vulnerable times. 

Why extra support is so important

Additional support during a pregnancy after loss is necessary because blissful naivety is gone from the parent. Pregnancy is suddenly fraught with anxiety because we are far more aware of what has the potential to happen - that we can leave the hospital with empty arms. 

LEARN ABOUT THE RAINBOW PROJECT

The physical health of the parent is no longer the sole focus; instead, the mental health must be considered as well. During pregnancy after loss, we need to feel truly heard when we express our worries or concerns. Empathetic support from everyone can make pregnancy after loss easier. 

Instagram: @starthealingtogether

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