We made it through another week which means we are that much closer to holding our jelly bean. It feels as though we are hitting the start of a major transitional period of this pregnancy. We have left all of the first trimester worries and fears in the dust and are starting to feel like this is more than just a dream. It really could happen. We really could be holding jelly bean in six short months.

As a grief counselor from the hospital told me after losing Austin, I am allowed to give myself permission to be happy.

I am allowed to have hope. And it is not my responsibility to make anyone else feel comfortable with my loss. It took me a long time to fully accept these things, but the counselor was absolutely right. Trying to comfort those who were shocked or saddened by the news of Austin’s death did not help me grieve. Instead, comforting them made me feel like I had to downplay my grief and his loss, which only made me feel worse. He is and always will be my first baby, and is now my beautiful angel watching over me.

Emma's 16-week bump - Permission to be Happy

Author’s Personal Collection/Emma DeVanzo

As I worked through my grief, the idea of ever being happy again was a hard thing to comprehend. How could I ever be happy when my baby had died? As I wrote my letters to Austin, a new way of thinking dawned on me. Would Austin want me to be sad for the rest of my life? Would he want me to stop living my life, with no hope and nothing to look forward to? No, I don’t think he would want that for me. I promised him in those letters that I would live my life to the fullest in his honor and always carry his memory and love with me.

I gave myself permission to be happy. I gave myself permission to not feel guilty whenever I felt happy. I gave myself permission to make plans for the future and have hope again.

And though it took some time to sink in, these ideals have changed me and continue to help guide me, especially through this pregnancy. Early on in this pregnancy, I caught myself feeling guilty whenever I felt hopeful or happy. That guilt would cause me to slip into feelings of doubt and fear, envisioning all of the ways this pregnancy would possibly end in another loss.

All of these thoughts were not good for my mental health. I was so focused on bracing myself for another loss, that I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy or hopeful. I worked on reframing my thoughts, and through that process, realized that I was going to love this baby no matter what the outcome of this pregnancy. And if it happened to end in another loss, I wanted to be able to look back on this pregnancy and have it filled with love and happy memories of this baby. With this in mind, I gave myself permission to be happy and enjoy this pregnancy as much as I can. Of course, there will be difficult days or weeks, and of course, I won’t be completely happy until they are in my arms, alive and healthy, but I’ll do my best to embrace the good days as they come.

With the nicer weather we have been having, my husband and I have been going for more walks around the neighborhood.  A topic that has come up often on our walks is when will it make sense to start preparing for this baby’s arrival.  Do we make another registry? When do we go through all of the items that were originally purchased for Austin?  When do we prepare the nursery? At what point do we enroll in daycare? With about 24 weeks left, there is no rush and no right answer. We have enough time to embrace preparations when we are feeling hopeful while not forcing anything when we aren’t. For now, we haven’t started any of the preparations, and that is okay. We will just continue to do what feels right to love on our little one as much as we can every day.

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