You breezed through your first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby. How difficult would it be to have a second child?
That was what Nadia Lambrechts, 36, thought when she decided to expand her family. After all, she had no problems conceiving her daughter Surina, now four, and had a smooth pregnancy.
Her second attempt at baby-making was an instant success, but she then struggled to carry her pregnancy to term.
In a span of just three months, she conceived and miscarried, twice.
In November 2013, Nadia lost one baby at five weeks of her second pregnancy.
But it was her second loss three months later that was especially traumatising. She had already seen her eight-week-old foetus and heard the heartbeat during an earlier ultrasound scan.
She recalls how her antenatal check-up ended in tears when the doctor couldn’t detect motion.
“I was already nervous after the first miscarriage, constantly worried that I’d lose another baby,” she shares. “The fact that we had heard a heartbeat during a previous scan made the reality harder
An analysis of the foetal tissue later revealed that her unborn baby had a chromosomal defect.
“Through the test, we even knew Baby was a little girl. Knowing the gender made the whole thing even more heartbreaking for us,” Nadia adds.
The heartbreak made her rethink her priorities in life. A former IT project manager for HR systems, Nadia eventually quit her stressful job to recuperate from her ordeal.
She later started her own baby-planning business, 40 Weeks, so she could spend more time with her only child.
As she struggled to come to terms with her losses, Nadia cried every single day for over two months. In her waking hours, guilt gnawed at her. At night, horrible dreams prevented her from having restful sleep.
“I kept blaming myself. Did I do something wrong to not deserve to be a mother again?” she says.
Share your grief
Nadia sought the help of a psychologist to work out some of her emotional issues. But what really pulled her out of depression was the stoic support she got from her friends and family, who rallied around her.
She had shared her excitement with everyone around her as soon as the home pregnancy test kit showed positive results. When she lost her babies, she opened up to them, too.
“They would send me encouraging messages or ask me out for lunch. Although I was so depressed that I withdrew into my own shell, knowing they cared for me made me feel less alone,” she says. “Simply feeling their presence around me – that was priceless.”
At the same time, she found understanding and help from friends and even acquaintances who would tell her – in hushed tones – that they had once miscarried, too.
“I was so surprised. Some of them are my close friends, yet I never knew they had gone through the same thing,” she says. “It goes to show that this topic is still taboo in today’s modern society.”
Indeed, most women tend to keep their pregnancy a secret until after the first 12 weeks. The risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, so they would hold off on talking about it until this risk has passed.
But, how would the devastated mum-to-be find support if she suffers an early miscarriage, Nadia asks.
By sharing her experiences with Young Parents, she hopes to encourage women to not be afraid of announcing their pregnancy early.
Especially in the unfortunate event of a miscarriage, sharing the secret only with your husband is not good enough, she says. The men end up shouldering the bulk of the emotional load.
Although Nadia’s other half, a 35-year-old business owner, wasn’t as expressive in his grief, she knew the double miscarriages had hit him hard.
“You must remember that the husband is also grieving over the loss and he will need support, as well,” she adds.
“A miscarriage isn’t something you’d want to go through alone. I had no qualms talking about my losses,” she says. “That really helped lift the emotional burden.”