I want to start this letter by first saying thank you. Your acknowledgment of my round tummy came from a good place and in some ways helped me feel like any other pregnant mama walking about in public. However, your question, “Is this your first baby?” causes me to catch my breath and wipe a tear.
See, this isn’t my first baby. While this little brother kicks and moves and grows in my belly I’m also missing his big sister. She was born into my arms but never took a breath. She is my daughter and made me the proud mother that stands before you with swollen ankles and a heart full of love.
And in many ways I am probably like every other mother expecting a baby; I am worried, excited, scared, and unprepared. But my arms ache with the very real feeling of goodbye and there is not one moment that passes that I’m not terrified it won’t happen again.
I’d love to be able to share our daughter with you and how I hope little brother has her same soft lips. It would feel so powerful to normalize the experience of pregnancy loss, because sadly, it is normal. But that word normal seems to suck the emotion out of it. Normal is not easy. Some days I’m too sad or too tired or too all-the-emotions-at-the-same-time to even put together a sentence of explanation. And since this letter is founded on honesty, your phrasing of that question causes me to decide you won’t understand. The fear of you rejecting my beautiful daughter and her intense meaning to me is too much. So you’ll get the small smile, unmet eyes, and quick answer of “yes” as I shuffle away.
This is where we come to the reason I’m writing. I need your help. Please, when you see another very pregnant mama making her way through the parenting books, think about this note. Each women bears their own story and if theirs is anything like mine (unfortunately there is a strong likelihood it could be) help me to normalize how complex pregnancy after loss truly is each and every day. A warm smile from a stranger is an amazing gift. And if you are moved to engage in conversation then “how are you feeling today?” is a great place to start.
So, dear lady at the library, thank you again for recognizing how special this time is in my life. Writing this letter also helped me to feel the presence of both my children, as I mother them both in different ways. I’m grateful for your listening ear.
Your Neighborhood Rainbow Mama
*This letter was written in compilation of the many conversations I’ve had with doula clients pregnant after loss. The stranger in public asking questions that catch you off guard is something already understood as grieving parents. However, the complexity that pregnancy after loss adds (as it does to so many things), can feel additionally overwhelming. We often end up discussing that in these situations we wish we could go back to these strangers and share some insights; a letter to this person has served as a successful and healing substitute.