After My Abortion, I Had To Go To Therapy

abortionAt 15 weeks pregnant, Nicole was full of anxiety. She and her wife had not told anyone, including family, that she was expecting. But after choosing to terminate her last pregnancy when the baby tested positive for Down Syndrome and enduring a miscarriage shortly thereafter, the mother of one believed that she didn’t deserve to be pregnant.

Amid crying all the time and Googling rare disorders, Nicole had not told ” a soul” that she and her wife were trying for another child following her abortion. Despite the trauma of her previous CVS testing, she was certain that she would feel better upon getting good results. But when those tests came back negative for a genetic or chromosomal disorder, she still couldn’t believe that she was capable of birthing a healthy baby. Even with ultrasounds every other week during the first trimester, her anxieties couldn’t be quelled.

“I went into every appointment expecting the baby to have died.  I couldn’t get excited about the pregnancy,” she tells Mommyish. ” I figured I would feel better at the 20 week ultrasound to prove there were no birth defects. But I still had these irrational fears that the baby would not have fingers or toes, though the ultrasound clearly showed that there were no problems.”

Nicole’s midwife suggested therapy, a measure which was also supported by her wife. Within her second trimester, Nicole found herself visiting a professional who specifically handled circumstances related to pregnancy and postpartum depression. What began to surface in the bi-monthly appointments was grief over her decision to abort her previous pregnancy, ultimately resulting in a diagnosis of general anxiety, deemed situational.

“I really had some lingering feelings over [my abortion], and we talked that out, and finally I just forgave myself for terminating that pregnancy.  My therapist was great about focusing on the positives about getting pregnant again, and adding to our family.”

Developing and sustaining a trust for the prenatal testing was also a topic that mother and professional consistently revisited. Medication was not considered a necessary option.

At 26 weeks pregnant, and following several therapy sessions, Nicole began to see that she wasn’t enjoying her pregnancy — nor was she allowing herself to. By keeping the news to herself, Nicole was neglecting to relish what she was planning to be her last child, a loss that she considered far greater than anything else.

“I realized that I should accept the fact that a baby was coming and starting embracing the joy!” she says.  “I finally brought out the old baby clothes and started getting the nursery ready. And then it became very real that a baby was coming to our family.”

She eventually started telling others about her pregnancy, a decision that she says finally made the new baby feel “real.” The happiness and congratulations from others, she maintains, helped her feel happy for herself too.

Nicole’s therapist also pointed out that anxiety in her pregnancy could worsen upon the baby’s arrival due to a lack of sleep and hormonal changes. As a precaution, the PPD specialist worked with Nicole to develop a sleeping plan for the baby’s first month, ensuring that the new mother would be getting at least four to six hours of solid sleep each night. After Nicole’s daughter was born, she visited her therapist twice more to check on her anxiety. She clarifies that she did experience a distinct relief when her daughter was born but ultimately credits her therapist for helping her through her previous trauma.

“I was able to verbalize what I was feeling and to work through any issues that were lingering,” she says, adding that she now gets to worry and panic about her 11-month-old daughter in a healthy way.

(photo: Lightspring/ Shutterstock)

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