Dear Courageous Mama,

I am you. Right now I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with my baby after the loss of my first, and only child, at 40 weeks pregnant with my beautiful daughter. I know you, because I am you. I may not have all the same thoughts or the same experiences as you, but I can say I know. I know this is hard because it’s hard for me. It’s the most difficult thing I have ever done after giving birth to and burying my stillborn baby girl.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any advice, as I’m not on the other side.

I am in the thick of it just like you and even if I was holding my current baby safely in my arms alive, I’m still not sure I would know the right words to say. What I can share with you are my true feelings and honestly I’m really scared right now. The truth is that every morning for the past five weeks I wake up terrified that my baby has died in the previous hours that I have slept, like my one before her did. My heart pounds and my mind races with morbid thoughts of once again delivering a dead child until all of the sudden a familiar poke tickles my hand as I am reassured my baby is still alive inside me with the somersault I feel her completing within.

pregnant woman lying on bed - Dear Courageous Mama, I am You

Photo © Kerry Kresl

You see, in that same moment, the one that was filled with terror before, is where gratitude also finds me and fills my soul with peace and an overwhelming sense of appreciation that I have been granted one more day, another chance, at bringing a living soul into this world. To say the least, it’s confusing; to wake to these kinds of emotions each day and hoping to relive them tomorrow because that would mean that my one wish is still true. That my baby will be born breathing and healthy and most importantly – ALIVE.

Maybe this letter doesn’t sound reassuring, but it is honest and to continue on this note of truth I would like to tell you that I do, oh how I do, try and try so hard to find joy in this pregnancy.

Each day I battle back anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, and PTSD symptoms in an effort to choose joy over fear. Sometimes I win. But other days fear finds me again, usually in the moments when I begin to let my guard down and envision a life with a smiling, giggling, crying, breathing, living baby girl. Here is where the ugliness of fear rears its head, saying “Remember, this pregnancy is only a trick, just like your last, you are not worthy of such a little blessing.” But, I will not believe this liar known as fear and I fight back! I feel the fear, welcome him and all of his deceptions, and choose joy anyway!!! Even though it’s hard as hell to do, I yell back in fear’s face and say, “TODAY I CHOOSE JOY!”

In doing this I find a moment of peace that settles into my tired body and soul.  Then I look down at my round stomach and stroke my belly all the while praying to a God, I don’t believe in, and a Universe, that I no longer trust, to give me the strength to make it through this journey and remember to just take each day as a gift.  If I have learned anything over the past 14 months, it’s that I only get this day. This gift. This moment. I only get now and in that now I want it to be filled with happiness, not fear. I want my baby girl to know love, not dread. And each day that is what I will give her by choosing joy. It’s not easy, like I said, It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

But I’m doing it. Just like you. WE are doing it.

Just by having the courage to try again we are choosing joy. Just by waking up each morning and facing what obstacles and anxieties pregnancy throws at us we are choosing joy. Just by being brave enough to be pregnant again we are choosing joy. Remember, we, both you and I are courageous warriors who have stared down the face of fear and said, “I don’t choose you. I choose joy instead!” and just by being here, wherever we are on this road of pregnancy after loss, just by saying yes to hopes of other chances and choosing joy, we have won.

Today, we have won.

Love,

Lindsey Henke

Fellow PAL Mom & Courageous PAL Warrior


Pregnancy After Loss Support: Love Letters to Moms Pregnant After Loss, Edited by Emily Long and Lindsey HenkeThis letter is included in our book, Pregnancy After Loss Support: Love Letters to the Mom Pregnant After Loss, edited by Emily Long and Lindsey Henke.

Get your copy on Amazon* or Bookshop* today.

*This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using this link, you also support PALS without it costing anything extra for you — a total win-win!

***

See the author, Lindsey Henke, read her love letter as part of our book launch party:

*This love letter was originally published on June 8, 2014

Share this story!