The oft asked question has to plague other loss moms like myself. “Is this your first”.
Well when you ask about firsts, what do you mean? My first child? Then no. There is one who came before, with curly red hair and who resembled her father more than I’m sure most baby girls do.
Is this my first pregnancy? No. Definitely no, in all the versions of pregnancy, including the ones that end in days, or weeks, or in 9 months, still no, not the first.
Is this my first time being a mom? Well. Kind of. I mean by all definitions I am a mother. That’s not disputable. But will I join the ranks of other first-time moms who are just learning the ropes when this child enters the world? Yeah, pretty much. I may be a mom, but I have little real world experience in the actual mothering part. And it’s pretty hard to admit. There something a little humbling about being a second time mom who still knows very little.
I never really tense up when somebody asks if it’s my first. Really don’t have much of an issue publicly proclaiming the life of my first child that ended so quickly. I don’t have any intentions to make anybody uncomfortable but I certainly never shy away from the answer. It’s just a fact. Yes, I do have another child, no this is not my first. Unless I just frankly don’t want to talk about it in that moment but those moments are pretty rare.
Sometimes I feel like I need to explain that my first child died because I don’t want anyone to assume that I do know what I’m doing.
All moms need help. First-time moms, first-time moms to rainbow children, mom who are on their 12th child, single moms, married moms. I almost feel like if I don’t let people know that this is still new for me, that I will somehow miss the window of opportunity to get assistance that I am going to need. I need them to know that they don’t need to look at me like I’m an old pro and I already know what I’m doing. Half the time when I explain that I did have a child before and she died, it is to honor her name and her memory, but the other half is to explain that while I have given birth, I have not had the experience of parenting a child day in and day out.
There are obviously a thousand other nuances that will come along with parenting a child after loss. There are things that non loss parents will not understand and thankfully I have a community for that now.
But it still boils down to the fact that there are still going to be many firsts. Mind altering, sleep depriving, soul jarring firsts. This is my first son. This will be my first, hopefully “take home” baby. This will be the first that came after Her. No matter how many children I go on to have, this son will still be the first one I parented after losing my daughter at 39 weeks.
After today, it will be the first time we could publicly announce the birth of a baby without also announcing the details of their upcoming funeral. The first time we’ll finally hold a baby that they won’t take to the morgue. The first time I’ll be losing sleep over a child and it won’t be out of grief and insomnia.
I still need other moms to hold my hand. He’s not my first but in so many ways he still is and I have no idea how to navigate the waters of first time parenting my second child.