Pregnancy after loss. Let’s talk about it. The fact of the matter is, it’s terrifying.
I’m not saying I don’t have my moments of excitement because I certainly do but with a level of caution I didn’t have with my first two children. The reality is that my naïveté was stolen when we lost Tinleigh. Prior to that, I never imagined pregnancy wouldn’t end in a healthy, happy baby. So with this baby, I’m cautiously excited and some weeks it’s easier to drown out the fear and anxiousness and others, the fear and I spend time dancing as I try and push it away.
Pregnancy after loss is overthinking every little thing like when my son says “my sister died again “ and I can’t help but wonder if he knows something I don’t know or if he’s just processing about Tinleigh. Pregnancy after loss is living for the next prenatal appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat and be temporarily relieved to know baby is still alive for that moment.
Pregnancy after loss is a whole lot of praying and sometimes bargaining with God because I’d literally give almost anything to not have to walk a second loss journey. Pregnancy after loss is scary, messy, and cautiously hopeful. While I love Tinleigh’s wall more than anything else in our home, pregnancy after loss is hoping that I’ll never have to find space for pictures of another child and a second candle.
I spent the first 20 weeks of this pregnancy bracing for impact. Do you know the emotional and physical toll that takes? It’s exhausting. The other side of that coin is I didn’t realize I was doing it until after our 20 week anomaly scan. I know many loss moms and families who live to make it to that 20 week scan and to know that everything is “okay”. This was certainly reality for me.
As we geared up for the scan and sat in the waiting room, I was nervous, hopeful, terrified and ultimately, ready to get it over with. I didn’t care about the sex of our baby like many parents do. My only hope was that my baby would be able to live. Fortunately for us, our baby was stamped with a clean bill of health. The evening after the scan, my mom asked if I was surprised by everything we had found out. I think she was probably primarily referencing the fact that we are expecting another girl. When she asked, it took me a second to gather my thoughts and let that sink in. The answer was yes and no. I wasn’t overly surprised we found out we are having a girl because my mama gut already knew that, but, I had convinced myself that God didn’t trust me with girls. What?! In my head, I was still being punished and clearly that meant that God didn’t want me to have girls. So was I surprised? No. But was I surprised that I might actually get to have a healthy, happy baby girl? Yes. That may seem extreme but that’s my reality. I had and still do sit with guilt and I have to truly work on knowing that God isn’t a punishing God and that I didn’t do anything wrong to be faced with a stillborn daughter.
Here’s the thing: I expected to get that stamp of approval after the ultrasound and to feel relief and joy. And I did feel that on that day. However, I wasn’t at all prepared to slump into a depression the two weeks following that ultrasound. It doesn’t make logical sense but my mind, heart, and body didn’t know how to function not having to brace for impact. And guess what? I’m not fully going to be able to relax about this baby making it until she’s in my arms. Something could still happen. I’m hoping nothing does nor do I think it will but that doesn’t mean I get to breathe a sigh of relief. And until then, I will live for the moments where I get to feel her baby wiggles, dances and somersaults and try and have peace when I feel like it’s been a little too long since she lasted moved. As I mentioned above, my naïveté was stolen with Tinleigh and that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Friends, let me end with this: when your loved one comes to you with these feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiousness, please validate her because she does have the right to feel this way. Try your best to refrain from saying things like “everything will be okay” and “I’m sure baby is fine” because the fact is it might not be and she won’t be able to embrace that no matter how hard she tries. Instead say “your feelings are valid” and “you have the right to feel that way”.