Rav’s Repro: Managing Stress In A High-Risk Pregnancy 

The things I learned spiritually — the coping mechanisms — after all we went through have helped me in endless ways during this pregnancy. (image: @MightyMooseArt)

Rav’s Repro is a column in which Erin explores all topics related to reproduction and reproductive rights. 


*CN: pregnancy; pregnancy loss

When you’re pregnant after a loss, or five, the joy of pregnancy can be quite mercurial. One minute, you’re filled with hope, glowing with the excitement of what’s to come. The next moment, that nagging voice in the back (or front) of your mind is whispering, then screaming at you: “Don’t get attached. Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t let yourself believe it’s going to work out this time.” 

And that voice has a point. I am over 40. I have had multiple losses. I am decidedly high-risk. 

This is my sixth pregnancy in less than two years. I’ve had an assortment of miscarriages, from chemical pregnancy to missed miscarriage to spontaneous abortion in the second trimester. (*"Spontaneous abortion" is my least favorite pregnancy loss term — as if I was walking down the street and decided, “Fuck it, I don’t want this baby anymore.” In reality, it meant that I went into pre-term labor before the fetus was viable. ) 

At the beginning of this pregnancy, which was the result of a frozen embryo transfer, I was 99.9% sure it didn’t work. When I went in for my beta blood test, which measures the level of HCG in your body,  I steeled myself for the phone call from the nursing staff: “I’m so sorry, your test came back negative.” 

But, it didn’t. 

With each milestone — heartbeat, normal growth, heartbeat increasing, released by the RE to my OB, nuchal scan, first-trimester blood test, second-trimester quad screen, anatomy scan — I became more and more confident; but along with my hopes, the stakes have continued to rise.

Every few days, I was back in for another blood draw, and each time I expected that my levels wouldn’t be rising properly. 

But, they did. 

Then came the first ultrasound. We saw the gestational sac and yolk sac. My RE (IVF doc) said, “This is good, but it would be even better if we saw the fetal pole. I’ll see you back in a week, and we should see the heartbeat.” 

For the next week, just before my birthday, I began planning for the D&E I would need since I was convinced there would be no heartbeat. I had been down this road, and down this road again. 

But, there was a heartbeat. 

With each milestone — heartbeat, normal growth, heartbeat increasing, released by the RE to my OB, nuchal scan, first-trimester blood test, second-trimester quad screen, anatomy scan — I became more and more confident; but along with my hopes, the stakes have continued to rise.

Losing the baby now would be, I imagine, even more painful than when I lost my baby at five weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, ten weeks, 15 weeks. 

So how do I manage the stress? 

Getting pregnant again, two months after that last loss, seemed baffling to some people. Why would I want to put myself back in there, so soon? For me, part of healing was continuing to push forward. And the things I learned spiritually — the coping mechanisms — after all we went through have helped me in endless ways during this pregnancy. 

Reiki. 

I have mentioned this before in my column. Reiki helped me heal my soul and my heart. It helped me connect spiritually, it strengthened my faith in the universe, and put into perspective all that we experience in this life — the good and the bad. 

There are many ways to access Reiki. There are private sessions; there are group sessions. There is distance Reiki, and there are Reiki healers who will work with you on a sliding scale (and some also volunteer their services for those who need it). *If anyone reading this is interested and wants some help being pointed in the right direction, you can contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this page. 

Acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been a part of my pregnancy, since before it began. It has helped both my physical symptoms and my anxiety level. I cannot recommend this highly enough for anyone, but especially women going through fertility treatments and/or pregnancy. 

Crystals. 

I’ve always liked crystals from a purely aesthetic place. But, the use of crystals in Reiki introduced me to ways in which they can be used for meditation and overall energy healing. I know, I know, it’s way woo. But, I don’t care. They make me feel good. I have my favorites (Malachite, Aventurine, Rose Quartz, Selenite), and I’ve used them countless times when meditating or before bed. I can’t really explain how they work, but they make me feel relaxed, they cool down my body. And does it even matter what they do, if they make you feel better? 

Meditation. 

Along with my crystals, I find meditation super helpful. I have a handful of apps I use on my iPhone (because I am just not evolved enough to get there without guidance). Breathe, Headspace, and Mind The Bump are perfect for quick mindfulness meditations. The Reiki App has fantastic longer guided meditations (Relaxation is my favorite). The Sleep Well Hypnosis App works so well. I am a problem sleeper (lifelong insomniac), and it always knocks me out. I also enjoy listening to lectures on the Ram Dass App. He has a super soothing voice, and each episode offers ways of looking at life that I find incredibly comforting. 

Yoga. 

Yoga has long been a practice that resonates with me spiritually. It’s not about the exercise. It’s about connection — connection to my body and connection to my emotional state. Invariably, I walk out of any yoga session feeling lighter and clearer. For the first few months of my pregnancy, I was not practicing, because of my high-risk status. Since I got the green light from my OB for light to moderate exercise (basically yoga and walking), I have gone weekly, and it ALWAYS makes my headspace less cluttered. 

Reading. 

Now, reading, in general, is stress-relief for me. But, reading intended as spiritual nutrition has given me a lot of comfort and perspective throughout my pregnancy. In particular, Journey of Souls and When Things Fall Apart have been along for the ride with me. I’ve turned to them periodically when I need an adjustment in how I’m looking at the things I am afraid of. 

In addition to all of these “practices,” I take actions that support the belief that this pregnancy is going to end in a live, healthy baby. 

With the five pregnancies that came before this one, I was hesitant to enjoy the process, to plan anything, to buy anything for my baby. This time, I have done the opposite. I am preparing for this baby to arrive because I do believe he will. Energy-wise, it’s sometimes been a struggle to stay in that place, but it’s gotten easier with each passing week. 

Lastly, I talk about it. 

I talk about it with my husband, my friends, with my family, and with strangers. I am not alone in this. And, it’s working. Despite all the trauma of the past two years, despite the losses and disappointments, I am here — present and hopeful and happy. And I can hardly contain the gratitude I have for being here, now, and sharing this with all of you. 


Hey, Erin! How’s your pregnancy going? 

I am 24 weeks. Each week seems to fly by faster than the last. Physically, I am feeling pretty well. With my third-trimester a few weeks away, I’m getting more and more into planning mode, which is an exciting place to be for me. In two weeks, I have the standard glucose tolerance test, to make sure there is no sign of gestational diabetes. I’ve noticed that I’m feeling the baby’s movements more regularly and have started to detect patterns at certain times of the day. And, we’ve passed the viability threshold, meaning that should I go into premature labor there is a chance that the baby would survive. With each week, the odds of survival increase significantly. As always, when I feel overwhelmed with any of this, I remember to take a minute just to sit and breathe. 

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