Not that long ago, I was you. I was standing where you are standing right now. I was pregnant with my rainbow baby, my LAST baby.
I will not lie. As happy as I was, I was terrified too. Pregnancy after loss is not an easy path to tread. It was not the journey I wanted for me. It’s not a journey any of us would choose, but I want you to hear these words, sweet mama. You can do this! Yes, it’s going to be the one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. Yes, it’s going to be scary at times, but I promise you it will also be full of so much hope, beauty, and love that sometimes your heart will feel like it’s going to explode with joy.
As emotional as a PAL pregnancy is, knowing that it’s your last pregnancy makes it more bittersweet – if such a thing is possible. Embrace all of those feelings, courageous mama. Every single one. They are yours. You have earned them, especially the happy ones.
Sweet mama, I know that ever since you found out you were pregnant and knew THIS was the final time, it seems like the days are creeping slowly by. Your body has betrayed you before, and you are afraid it will again. You are looking forward to the moment when your baby will finally be here, alive, safe, and where you never have to take your eyes off of him (or her) again.
It seems like that day will never come, especially on those anxious days when you worry more than usual. Maybe you’re not quite sure if your baby is moving as much as he usually does, so you go in to see your OB for one extra monitoring. It’s reassuring to hear that strong, fast fetal heartbeat and the swooshes (and feel the kicks) while your son tries to kick to monitor off because it’s too restraining around your belly. Maybe it’s the weekend and you can’t get those contractions to stop, even after guzzling water and lying on your side, so you head to labor and delivery again. Whatever the reason for calling your OB office and asking to speak with the nurse or calling the on-call doctor and waking her up at 1 am., you don’t feel silly at all because they knows you’ve already lost a baby and that you’re higher risk this time. They also know that this is your last baby, so you’re all kinds of emotional and determined to make sure that everything goes as OK as it possibly can.
Yes, courageous mama, when you first learn that you are pregnant with your final child after a loss, it seems like you are pregnant forever, or at least as long as an elephant gestates. It’s scary to think about how much can go wrong in the days between conception and delivery, and Google is not your friend when you are worried about every single new symptom you are experiencing.
Not long ago, I was you. I was standing where you are standing. Happy, terrified, and ready to embrace my last baby. But now that my rainbow is here, I want to tell you, as scary as my PAL pregnancy was, I miss it too. It went by much quicker than I realized it would.
I miss the first time I felt him move…and how happy it made me feel because I KNEW he was really there. I miss the way his brother and sister squealed in delight the first time they felt him kick…and how surprised they were that someone so tiny could be so strong. I miss the way he got hiccups every single day…and how I could set my phone on my belly and watch it dance. My family got a big laugh out of that one too. I miss the way his daddy would put his mouth against my belly and chant “1, 2, 3, 4! I love the Marine Corps!” That would really make him kick hard. I even kind of miss the yucky stuff like the morning sickness and the achy back and waddling around. I’d do it all over again.
I have a lot of pictures and I wrote a lot about my pregnancy, but some of my favorite memories are just that – memories. Snapshots and sound bytes that only exist in my head. I’ll never forget the first time I heard my last baby cry or the way I cried too, knowing he was finally here – alive and safe. I’ll never forget the first time I saw his daddy hold him or how gentle he was picking him up that first time. I’ll never forget the first time the nurse handed him to me or how I kissed him and whispered, “Hello, my love. I’m your mommy, and I love you.” I never wanted to let him go.
It’s OK to be scared, mama. It’s ok to anxiously await your baby’s arrival, but take a moment to enjoy to little things. Looking back, those little things are the big things. Embrace this pregnancy as fully as you feel comfortable embracing it. As much as you are looking forward to holding your precious baby in your arms, one day you’re going to miss the closeness you’re sharing together right now.
Take a picture. Make a memory. Breathe! Enjoy THIS moment.