"Every appointment I’ve said to myself, 'OK if it’s healthy today I’ll announce' but then I breathe a sigh of relief to hear a heartbeat and decide I’m just too nervous still," Teigen wrote in her pregnancy announcement posted on Instagram. She added that while "everything is perfect and beautiful" and she's "feeling hopeful and amazing," she also wrote that she doesn't think she'll "ever walk out of an appointment with more excitement than nerves."
Teigen is not alone in feeling nervous during a pregnancy that follows a traumatic loss. One in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and nearly one in 100 pregnancies at or past 20 weeks gestation will end in a stillbirth, when the baby dies before or during childbirth.
I am one of those statistics.
At the end of 2013, I was shocked to learn I was pregnant with twins. Always ambiguous about if not slightly disinterested in motherhood, I was surprised by my immediate reaction — one of fear, yes, but also profound joy and excitement. I would be a mom after all, and I would start that journey as a mom of two.
Nothing about my automatically high-risk pregnancy was particularly noteworthy at first. The morning sickness was often debilitating, yes, and the food cravings and aversions as erratic as my hormones.
At 12 weeks, a scan revealed Twin B had a thicker neck than Twin A — a possible sign of a chromosomal abnormality. At 16 weeks, doctors performed a chorionic villus sampling (CVS) procedure, when a doctor inserts a long needle through the stomach and into the placenta to remove chorionic villi for testing.
The tests were all negative — our future sons were healthy.
Then, at almost 20 weeks, while on a flight to visit my brother before he deployed overseas, I lost consciousness. When I awoke, I was surrounded by flight attendants and two OB-GYNs who happened to be on the same flight. I was visibly pregnant. We all had the same look of concern on our faces. The air was thick with fear.
Once the plane landed, I was rushed to a nearby hospital where I was hooked up to IVs and numerous monitors and given an ultrasound.
It was in a crowded emergency room, in a hospital I had never been to, where a doctor I had never met told me Twin A no longer had a heartbeat.
I would no longer be a mom of two. Instead, I would carry the remains of Twin A with the hope I would not go into early labor and lose Twin B, too.
After Twin A's heart stopped beating I was closely monitored multiple times a week, every week, until I gave birth. Thankfully, my body carried life and death simultaneously — I made it to term and welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world.
My body carried life and death simultaneously — I made it to term and welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world.
I also delivered the remains of the baby who would never be. I became a mom in a room where joy and sadness, relief and anger melted together.
I thought that when I left that room, the room would hold those feelings back from following me. Time would work in my favor, and I'd forget the fear and anxiety that encapsulated my foray into motherhood.
In 2018, after finding out I was pregnant again, I realized I was wrong.
Like Teigen, I left every doctor's appointment more anxious than relieved. Fear followed my every move, forever outrunning logic and reason. If I lie down like this, will my baby die? If I pick this up, will my baby die? If I go for a run, will my baby die?
In reality, pregnancy loss is most commonly the result of a chromosomal abnormality, an issue with the sperm or an unforeseen complication with the placenta, cervix or uterus. They are often completely outside of the pregnant person's control. We are at the mercy of science and medicine and our wonderful, complicated bodies.
But trauma does not consider the facts. Grief does not recognize reality. Instead, I spent the entirety of my pregnancy deathly afraid that I would become another statistic. Again.
My partner pushed me to find the joy in a pregnancy that was not automatically high-risk. "You're only carrying one," he would sweetly remind me. "This pregnancy is not that pregnancy." I begged the recesses of my mind to devour the memories of that flight, that hospital, the words "there's no heartbeat."
Instead, they remained as fresh in my mind as the day I lost Twin A, who had a name I still cannot bring myself to say out loud. Determined to give my future child what he deserved — the chance to one day listen to his mother talk about her pregnancy and his birth with joy and excitement — I tried to do as my partner suggested and focus on all the differences.
I was not as sick as I had been when I was pregnant with twins. I could work out and rely on endorphins and "feel-good" hormones to boost my mood. I had fewer doctor appointments, and therefore did not have to endure as many invasive exams or procedures.
Week after week, there was still a fetal heartbeat.
On November 17, 2018, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Fear had followed me into the delivery room, but it was quickly dampened by his boisterous cry and splendid fat folds.
Fear had followed me into the delivery room, but it was quickly dampened by his boisterous cry and splendid fat folds.
It followed me out of the hospital, too. Now, after four years, I was finally the mom of two I was once told I would become.
I'm still awaiting the day my youngest son asks about his entry into this world and what it was like for me to carry him inside my body. While at one time I was determined to paint him only the most optimistic, positive picture, I have learned that is not what he actually deserves.
My son deserves to hear how strong his mother was in the face of near-constant fear and anxiety. He should hear about the devastating loss that occurred before he was even a thought in his parents' minds, and why, despite that loss, we tried again — for him.
Perhaps more importantly, my son needs to know that a mother never forgets her babies — the ones she has held in her arms and the ones she has only held in her dreams.
I do not know Chrissy Teigen, but I can say with near certainty that she — like all mothers who have endured an experience like this — is not alone in her fear. Our strength is not just in our numbers, but in the myriad of ways we find joy in the midst of anxiety and excitement in the presence of grief.