I felt a tad ridiculous, but I was genuinely so gleeful. I know I’m being a dork, but having professional maternity photos done is something I’ve never done as there was always such fear around them. I self-saba-squashed myself, never feeling like I deserved them or that happiness. But, on this day, I felt the joy of the unexpected light falling snow, the pure magic of it all, and all that it has meant on our journey.

Carmen's maternity photos in the snow - Carmen's Bump Day Blog, Week 33: Saba-Squashed

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

For some, this may look like their first maternity shot, how it was supposed to look. For us, it’s our last but also our first.

It feels backward, but it’s what I always envisioned for my first maternity shot, and through so much heartbreak, we still got there. I will cherish this pure elation feeling and where we’ve come with our last rainbow baby always! It’s easy to revert to old patterns and ways. I’m glad I pressed send upon request for a photo shoot. We did it, and I’m so glad I did!

Carmen's maternity photos at 33-weeks pregnant

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

This belly, though it represents grief, it has always represented life! I show it because we should get to share our grief as it is because of life. Life brings grief, but grief can bring life too, the complete circle of the map of this belly! Through thick and thin, big and small. The belly not being there when I wanted it back (losing the belly meant I had lost you) or still having this belly after loss and hating it’s reminder that I was still postpartum with nothing to show for it. Forcing it back to small, something we don’t do when we have a living baby, then having this belly meant I could lose again! What this belly can look like at different stages, but like my heart, this belly has always been expanding and contracting in love, no matter its size.

A dear friend of mine’s mom would always say how she loved seeing the “big bellies” of pregnancy with me, not realizing she never really got that. I would complain about it. I’m human. But I also understand what she means. The true gift it is to hold life! So I’m flaunting mine, something that is always said to be so beautiful that I’ve always felt I had to hide in our journey. But not this time. I’m laying it on thick. I know this. It’s hard as the squashes shell, but there is a squishy softness inside getting to share the excitement and beauty of this belly and all that it has held!

Carmen with her family at 33-weeks pregnant

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

This is not how it looks all the time.

I have such guilt that I didn’t do this with the other kids, but I know I couldn’t have “faked” this kind of joy. The love of them has always been real! It’s something I often have to force when pregnant, but I’ve been speaking with this little butternut, placing my hand on my belly as I rest, acknowledging its presence. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress and in so doing, there have been more glimmers like this newly fallen snow, new layers forming, a fresh start, and new ending.

Carmen's 33-week bump - Saba-Squashed

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

I recently saw this beautiful post of a woman on her fourth pregnancy and fourth baby and how she was crying. How gorgeous it was to witness as she said unapologetically how she still cries every time she sees her baby on ultrasound and how wonderful I reflected on this to be.

As I watched, I realized that I never allowed myself to cry fully as I never accepted that my babies would ever maybe live. Isn’t that sad?

After seeing our beautiful babies alive on ultrasound, I was always still too numb. So many friends would say when we needed to be watched closer, “At least it’s another chance to see baby,” which in my mind meant another chance that this baby could be taken away or “we will find something.”

I wished so hard I had not held back and let myself feel all those monumental feels, but I couldn’t do it. I was able to fall apart at times when we got confirmation of a bad diagnosis, but never at a healthy one. Hearing the heartbeat always got me, but I was unable to generate those joyous, beautiful tears over it. What’s wrong with me?

So yes, in my mind, I had this perfected idea that this time, hubby would take a picture of me “happy crying” seeing my baby on our first ever 3D ultrasound and again, I couldn’t do it!

Carmen at her 3D ultrasound - Carmen's Bump Day Blog, Week 33: Saba-Squashed

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

For the first time, I allowed ourselves to see our baby as it was–not for diagnostics, just for its life. And, guess what, something more incredible happened: I actually fully enjoyed the experience!

Carmen's 3D ultrasound - Carmen's Bump Day Blog, Week 33: Saba-Squashed

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

I couldn’t stop smiling ear to ear, my squinty, happy eyes not leaving that screen, no longer scared, in pure awe of taking in a moment not swarmed with tests. I was sincerely overjoyed and that was how our gorgeous moment looked like for us! 3D ultrasounds were another thing I never did as I found it kinda creepy and wanted to meet babe for the first time in real life. In actuality, it was me not wanting more things to get attached to. And, surprise again, am I ever attached!

Carmen's 33-week ultrasound - Carmen's Bump Day Blog, Week 33: Saba-Squashed

Author’s Personal Collection/Carmen Grover

These pics connected us, and the kids said, “Wow, it’s a real baby squashed in there,” and “That baby is so so so cute, right, mommy?” My son is still convinced it’s a tiger which I can’t displace. Look at that yawn. I am roaring for you, sweet baby, something I’ve always wanted to do from the mountain tops! You are here, and we are so excited!!

The ugly tears came after, as I can’t stop looking at these sweet pics and the CHEEKS. But right then I felt pure elation, and that elation could not come out in tears. I wasn’t numb, I was giddy!

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