Since delivering J and E into the world, both my “rainbows” after our loss, I have met so many (too many) moms who are in the same predicament.
The limbo between joy and sorrow.
We are in the childbearing years. It is natural for us to want to move forward, and seek to carry new life. But convincing our heart that we are doing the RIGHT thing is a whole different business.
We want a family. We want a living child.
And no matter what I tell these newly expecting (and grieving) moms, their limbo is just that. Theirs.
It is the dance that no one should have to endure. It is heartbreaking and it feels downright impossible. So characteristic of grief, the way it creates the most painful demands on your life and heart, these demands unfortunately don’t let up with a new pregnancy. If anything, they are amplified. For example, trying to explain to your family WHY you just aren’t in the mood for a baby shower, registering, choosing a name, and/or looking at Target’s insanely adorable baby clothes, etc… it usually doesn’t go over very well. I had one too many family members and friends honestly concerned at my lack of interest in these things. If you don’t already know, we lost our first child and we got pregnant almost right away. My son was born nearly a year to the date of my first child’s first would-be birthday. They would have been a year apart, by two days. So the bittersweetness carried over like a lead balloon my entire pregnancy. Half the time I was pregnant with him I felt like a zombie. The other half was spent developing ulcers over what could go wrong (and did, but thankfully he turned out perfectly healthy).
The only real advice I have for any newly expecting mama, while also grieving the loss of another child, is to place your grief on hold. Choose NOW. Not because it’s easy, or right, or what anyone tells you to do, but because… please repeat after me… I DESERVE THIS.
Grief has a way of sneaking a whole lot of guilt in subsequent pregnancies after loss. Maybe it’s guilt over having another girl, after losing a girl, or having a boy after losing a boy. Or the guilt might come with being happy/ sad at the gender reveal. The guilt could come in a million different ways, but I’ve yet to meet a mom in this situation who hasn’t faced some sort of self-induced guilt. It is horrendous. At the end of the day, this precious, new life has been trusted to you and your body.
You are able.
You are capable.
You are an exquisite, beautiful mother.
Regardless of how clumsy you might feel you are handling this impossible situation.
The thing about pregnancy, as we know more than anyone, is that you are not guaranteed another day, week, hour, minute with this child. We KNOW how quickly and easily things could go wrong. That knowledge right there… it can be the weapon that destroys your mindfulness during this pregnancy. It can and it will steal any peace or hope you have left about bringing a healthy, living baby into this world. BUT one thing I realized with my second “rainbow” pregnancy is that this knowledge can also be the one thing that inspires you to embrace every second with this baby snuggled safely inside your belly. You don’t want to look back at this pregnancy and remember nothing but fear. Wield this tool to your benefit, and to your baby’s. Make the most of what you have left.
You get to choose how this precious and momentous time will be remembered. It can be the most beautiful journey of your life. It will not come without pain, or heartache, messy days, or tears most likely, but it can be a time that you look back and see steps of true healing. And some of the most precious memories can be made right here, smack dab in the middle of Mission Impossible.
There is so much power in mindfulness, and choosing to focus your energy on what have right this second. Is it your growing belly? The last ultrasound picture or DVD? Is it the pink or blue baby shoes your mother or friend picked out in excitement? Is it the way your baby makes your belly bounce from hiccups each day at a certain hour? Is it feeling her respond to your loved ones’ voices or a helping of fruit juice? Allow yourself to treasure these things. Write them down. You will survive this chapter of your life, but only you can choose the way it will be remembered.