In Memory of Jadalee Mae McKenzie 14th December 2004
By Jodie McKenzie
The decision to have another baby after experiencing the loss of a child is one that takes much strength from both parents. For me, it was something that I desperately wanted. Not to replace the loss of my daughter (unexplained stillbirth) in any way but it meant everything to me to be a mum. Through my first pregnancy it was all I envisaged of being a mum, taking my baby for a walk, teaching my baby new things, the sleepless nights, bonding and experiencing the wonderful joys of motherhood. This dream of mine was shattered when my daughter passed away at 30 weeks gestation, after a “textbook” pregnancy.
Deciding to have another baby for me meant that I had to first search within myself to see what kind of strength (if any) I had in order to get me through from when we decided to start trying to the birth. Before I could mentally make this decision, it meant that I had to commence the acceptance of the loss of my daughter. Am I over her loss after the birth of my second child? No – and I don’t think you ever get over the loss of someone, you learn to live with the pain that has scarred your heart. Have I accepted her loss – yes. Do I still think about her? Every single day.
It was after finding the strength and commencing the acceptance process that I then had to confront my fear of being pregnant again. I was petrified. Not only before falling pregnant but when I was pregnant. It couldn’t be guaranteed that what happened to me wouldn’t happen again and there were no tests that could confirm this. It was purely something I would have to risk.
We had decided after I got the all clear to start trying again from my obstetrician to begin and in our situation we were successful in falling pregnant again 6 months after the birth of my daughter. Is this too soon? There is no right or wrong answer in this situation. It is a very personal decision. You know when you are ready to commence.
My second pregnancy was again a “textbook” pregnancy almost identical to my first with no morning sickness or illness. In a way I had hoped that it could be different as a sort of confirmation that it was going to be different. The first trimester proved tough especially when passing the twilight stage from feeling butterflies to kicks. It was around this stage that I began to question whether I had the strength to make it through. I had felt butterflies and then nothing for 3 days. When this occurred, I had prepared myself that this baby was going to die too. I didn’t think mentally I could do it. At this stage, it was easier for me to accept that the baby might die as I had already been through the worst scenario and this was how I was protecting myself from experiencing the loss again. It was my doctor who helped me through this stage, by suggesting I visit weekly until I regained my confidence in the pregnancy and suggested that I seek counseling.
It was also in the first trimester that I experienced bonding issues. As I was protecting myself from being hurt, I was also preventing myself from getting close to the baby. I decided at this time that it might help if I “sexed” the baby in order to begin to get to know my baby as this was something I did not do in my first pregnancy. It definitely made an impact as I immediately began talking to my son and deciding upon a name with my husband.
I was able to allow myself to relax throughout the second trimester visiting my doctor fortnightly. I found that having regular check-ups and scans helped me to sustain my mental strength.
The third trimester was what I most feared. As the 30 week milestone came closer, I began seeing my doctor weekly and remained on weekly appointments until it was time. It was agreed that I would go to 37 weeks before delivering my son as I did not have the mental strength to go any further. My stress levels were high and it was important that I remained as calm as possible for my baby. The secret here was to keep my mind as busy as possible, in my case I was studying a degree so I was able to divert my focus.
The delivery day arrived which brought about a whole other group of emotions. I had been induced but after 12 hours of active labor, I chose to have a caesarean. I remember lying on the theatre table uncontrollably crying before the operation commenced. I had finally made it and so had my baby. I was now a mother to a beautiful little boy named Riley.
Whilst my pregnancy was physically perfect, mentally I was absolutely exhausted. I had squeezed every bit of positive thinking that a person could do. I was constantly filled with emotions such as fear, worry, concern and many a time I felt that I was defeated. I think when you reach the feeling of defeat that you are able to tap into that hidden resource of strength that we hold. Not only did the birth of my son remove the weight from my stomach, but also the weight from my shoulders. This experience has made me realize how strong a person I am.
Overall, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy this pregnancy, I couldn’t. I kept telling myself that I will enjoy my next pregnancy. I felt at times that all I was doing was reaching milestone after milestone. I had moved interstate since the birth of my daughter so I had a new doctor. She was an angel. I think I cried at 75% of my many appointments. Thankfully, my doctor was understanding, compassionate and provided me with the dedication and commitment that I needed to make it through this pregnancy. This I believe was the key to assisting me through my biggest fear. So you may ask – was it worth it? Absolutely…I now have a beautiful little boy who is fortunate to have a very special angel as a sister, always watching over him.