When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited and nervous. Having Lupus, I knew that my pregnancy was technically high risk. However, I had not had any major flares in over two years and all my early prenatal care was very positive. So, all indications were that I would likely have a full-length, healthy pregnancy. Even when we found out we were having twins, this increased my risk level and the amount of prenatal care that I would receive, but all tests gave us reasons to feel optimistic about my body’s ability to make it through my pregnancy.
As I read up more on having multiples, I realized that the chances of making it to a full 40 weeks might be an unreasonable goal. I decided that I would be okay with delivering 3 weeks early. But I had every intention of making it to 37 weeks. Despite the fact that I knew I would be the size of a full-term singleton pregnancy at 32 weeks and that I would likely be very uncomfortable, I was still excited to experience a full pregnancy and get to know my little ones inside my body before they came into the world. I was looking forward to both the ups and downs of a full pregnancy. And I was already feeling strongly that I would not be having any more kids, so that was more motivation to do it right, because I was only going to do it once.
My Pregnancy Ended at 24 Weeks and I Have to Let Go of That
I did all the things that I was told to do which included new meds for my Lupus (that made me way sicker than the pregnancy did), prenatal vitamins (and I got the good ones that cost a fortune), working out three days a week, and eating a specific diet. It also included a lot of trips to the clinic; I got lots of extra blood work and weekly ultrasounds. I felt confident that I could and would make it to my goal of 37 weeks.
At 24+2 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital with concerns that I was leaking amniotic fluid. My Amnisure test came back inconclusive and they said they wanted to test me again in the morning. They monitored both twins all night. The next morning, I had a repeat test and an ultrasound to check the amount of fluid around the babies. Everything looked great so they sent me home. Late that night, I started having contractions and headed back to the hospital early in the morning of day 24+4. They were not able to stop my labor and I ended up having my twins later that day.
There were a lot of emotions I experienced on that day and the coming months. A great deal of shame and guilt. I felt like I had failed my children. I was also angry, I felt like my body had failed all of us. I was bewildered because I felt like I had tried so hard and didn’t understand why this would happen. And they never did determine why I went into preterm labor and that made me angry too.
Now it is nearly two years later and I have two happy, healthy and thriving babies. But I still have a lot I’m working on surrounding their traumatic entrance into this world. I still feel sad that I missed out on a full-term pregnancy. I will never get to experience the feeling of significant movements of babies that are bigger and further along in a pregnancy. I’ll never get to be pregnant at my baby shower. I’ll never finish a pregnancy journal. I barely had the rounded belly and now I never will. I wanted these things and I will never get to experience them.
Dealing with my sadness has been a journey and to be honest, I’m still working on it. Part of how I’ve learned to cope is to focus on the positive. I do have two happy healthy babies. The road to now was traumatic and difficult, but we survived it and our family is thriving. Another thing I do is remind myself that I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the full pregnancy all that much. I wanted to make it to full-term and experience everything, but that doesn’t mean I would have loved all of it. I probably would not have enjoyed being so big and having indigestion and having trouble sleeping. So, while I’m sad that I missed out on the joys of pregnancy, I try to remind myself that also missed out on the trials of pregnancy.
Another thing that has helped me was talking to my doctor about what we could do differently in the future to make it to full-term. We continue to have no intention of having any more children. However, knowing that there is reason to be optimistic if it happens again gives me some solace. Finally, talking to both my own family and families who have been through what we’ve been through helps me deal with my frequent re-occurrences of disappointment.
I know other moms might be struggling with this sadness and disappointment just like I have experienced. Please remember that whatever you feel is okay. Re-occurrences of feelings of sadness, disappointment, guilt, and fear are normal. I encourage you to take time for yourself and do what you can to learn to manage your emotions. Find what works for you. You can try the things that have helped me, if they don't work for you try to come up with other things that might work for you or consult other moms who have been through an early delivery for other ideas.
Make sure to acknowledge the feelings you have but do it in a way that allows you to still enjoy the present. Being present is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. Remember that acknowledging your feelings of sadness is important, but also make sure you make time to acknowledge the joys of motherhood! Know and accept that there will be an ebb and flow to all your feelings.
Finally, if your feelings become so strong that they overwhelm you on a regular basis or keep you from being able to experience joy, consider seeking professional help. Moms are strong, but not unbreakable, so if it is time to ask for help, there is no shame in it. Good luck mama!
Maya Mason lives in the Twin Cities, MN and works as a Juvenile Probation Officer. Maya is the mom of 6-month-old boy/girl twins named Theo and Teia who were born at 24 weeks. Maya has Lupus and this diagnosis has led her to become passionate about natural health and wellness. Maya loves to spend time with her family, play volleyball and travel. She also is an avid writer and is in the process of writing a teen fiction series.