We conceived our second baby boy three months after our precious first born son, Ari, was born still. Were we ready?

We conceived our second baby boy three months after our precious first born son, Ari, was born still at 39 weeks on 20th August 2019. Were we ready? Gosh I don’t know if you are ever ready after the heartbreak and devastation from your baby dying. For me, the first 10 weeks of this second pregnancy were terribly difficult, emotionally. I was happy and very grateful to be pregnant again but I had conflicting emotions of guilt and fear.

I felt guilty for our precious Ari and felt like we were replacing him, which of course is not the case. I also felt angry because we ‘shouldn’t’ be pregnant again this soon. We ‘should’ have our precious three month old baby boy here with us.

It did take that full first 10-12 weeks to get my mind around being pregnant again. Every congratulations in that time hurt and felt like a stab to my heart. It felt mean for our beautiful Ari because I just didn’t want him to think we were moving on without him. Ultimately I kept reminding myself that this is the best case scenario in a terrible situation and of course that Ari would be the best big brother ever, and his baby siblings will grow up knowing all about him.

From the first positive test we have received amazing care. We opted for a full autopsy after Ari died and although there was no cause found, they gave us a comprehensive plan for future pregnancies.

We live regionally in South Australia so we travel to Adelaide to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for scans and appointments with the amazing Maternal and Foetal Medicine Team. We then have appointments in-between travelling to Adelaide, here in our hometown, with our local Obstetrician. Part of this pregnancy plan is that we have regular scans, I am tested for the GBS bacteria monthly, baby will be monitored twice weekly from 34 weeks onwards, and we will be induced at 37 weeks.

One of the most difficult things for me now as I am 27 weeks pregnant, are night times. Ari died sometime on a Saturday night between me going to sleep and waking up the next morning, when I noticed his movements had stopped. I have really struggled this pregnancy with Friday and Saturday nights, fearing every weekend that something similar could happen. I wake multiple times per night. I suffer anxiety about if baby boy is ok, and I struggle to get a good sleep.

Emotionally I have been up and down this pregnancy. There are many good days and then there are some really tough days and nights.

Every scan and appointment brings me and my fiancé anxiety. The moment of the sonographer or obstetrician searching for baby’s heartbeat feels like forever, and I break down into tears of pure relief each time we do hear baby’s heartbeat.

As a coping mechanism, along with seeing my psychiatrist and talking things through, I go for a walk in the fresh air every day. It’s really positive for my mental health and wellbeing. I also live by the ‘one day at a time’ rule. I don’t plan or look too far ahead and just focus on getting through the current day the best I can. I was really fearful that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy pregnancy after Ari died, but since those initial 10 weeks, I really have enjoyed it for the most part. Yes, I wish I was still able to enjoy pregnancy innocently like I did the first time round, but that’s just not the case. I truly believe that the love we have for our precious Ari boy is what is getting me through each and every day. He is the reason we wanted to conceive again so soon and he is the reason we can’t wait for this baby boy to arrive into the world. We hope every day he will come, full of life.

Vanessa Brooks, mother of Ari Lachlan Jennings.