If you are or ever have been pregnant after a loss, you know a thing or two about vulnerability. It comes with the package. Let’s just call it a package deal.
You want so badly to believe that this subsequent pregnancy will result differently than the pregnancy that you lost, but you have learned the hard way that there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, you have decided to embark on this journey again, in hopes for a different outcome. If that doesn’t leave you feeling vulnerable, I don’t know what does.
As if that isn’t enough, there are things along the pregnancy after loss journey that can leave you feeling even more vulnerable than you already do. Want to know what that is for me? Being exposed.
My belly has been covered in public for the first 5 months of my current pregnancy by my thick winter coat. Not because I purposely wanted to hide my belly, but because it’s been a harshly cold and long winter.
Now that spring has (finally!) started to show itself, I have become aware of just how comforting that winter coat had been for me. Sure, it did its main duty, it kept me warm. But it also prevented the majority of the public from knowing that I was pregnant and therefore kept comments and questions at bay. I was hiding behind my winter coat, and I didn’t even know it.
You know what those comments and questions are. I’m sure you’ve heard them. Or if you are still very early in your pregnancy, you might not have heard them yet, but you most likely will.
Is this your first?
You’re 24 weeks, you barely look pregnant!
Wow, you are getting big, and you’re only 24 weeks?!
Have you picked out colors or fabric for your nursery?
Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?
I still, even after having successfully making it through a pregnancy after loss, have a hard time with the “is this your first” question. It’s something I’ve written an entire other blog post about, so I won’t go into it here. It’s a question that triggers a lot of emotion, and that I answer differently depending on the day and my mood.
In terms of the comments about belly size, I strongly feel like the only correct comment on belly size to a pregnant woman is, “you look great!” Anything else could lead to doubt and fear. And God knows that us pregnant after loss mamas don’t need any more of that!
I was asked the question about preparing a nursery the other day by another mom. It was completely innocent, but it stumped me, and I had a hard time answering it. In all fairness, this mom does not know about my loss, yet it still rattled me. Yes, I know that it can be uber exciting, like can’t-hardly-control-yourself exciting, for some to design and put together their baby’s nursery, but when you have had a loss, it really is just kind of terrifying. The very last thing on my mind during this pregnancy has been nursery fabric. Yes, I want my baby to have a nice room, and I have given it some thought, but that’s about all that I’ve done.
The gender questions are also just a bit too much for me. Of course I am human and have thought about what it would be like to have a boy vs. a girl. But what I want period, is a healthy, living baby. One that I can bring home and watch grow. One that will be here for birthdays. One that will get scrapes and boo-boos that I can kiss and that giggles when I tickle him or her. One that I will get the privilege to parent the way I had hoped to parent when I first set out on the journey of motherhood.
Then there are the touchers. Those that just can’t keep your hands off your belly. Look, I love to touch a pregnant belly as much as the next person, but only if it is that of a close friend or family member, and even then, I try to ask first. Furthermore, usually these people touch the top of my belly which is still basically my stomach. This baby is still mostly down under my belly button right now. And no, thank you, please don’t move your hand that far down on my belly.
As I write this, I realize how jaded I am. I hate that I’m that way. But I also hate that I had to kiss my first-born goodbye for the last time just hours after he was born at 29 weeks. I hate that I have the anxieties and fears accompanied by pregnancy after loss. I hate that I have a hard time talking to my 3 ½ year about this baby in fear that something might go wrong.
I love my family and friends. They have wonderful intentions, and so do the general public, for the most part. Those who make comments and ask the questions are generally trying to be nice and make conversation. I can understand and respect that. I am sure that prior to, and maybe even after my loss, I have even been one of those offenders, though I am obviously way more sensitive to it now, and try not to make potentially questionable remarks to pregnant women.
I see the good in getting positive vibes from my loved ones. I take in their excitement as much as I can, and try not to let it terrify me. Hey, maybe I will even allow myself to feed off their excitement a bit and let it in. I’ll be realistic in acknowledging that my fear remains within me. At the same time, I can also try to find some excitement and joy during these long 40 weeks. I’ll allow myself to see the good and not just the scary elements in being exposed.