This week, I passed a hard milestone. Friday was the one-year anniversary of when I saw my son, Koda, alive and well on ultrasound for the last time. The same day, I reached thirty-three weeks with my current pregnancy. At times, my grief feels fresh again. I found myself sobbing in bed at six in the morning, my heart and arms aching for Koda. All the while, my little rainbow was moving around in my womb. I love both of my boys so much. I only wish we could have them both here with us. I try not to plant myself in a place of despair, but sometimes it just hurts, and nothing can make it better. I sit with my grief in those moments. I cry, pray, and wish things were different. Eventually, the tears stop flowing, and the ache becomes less intense. Then I’m able to continue to move forward as life requires me to do.

Hannah at 33-weeks pregnant with Koda's tattoo - Moving Forward and Holding On

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirk

As odd as it sounds, I’m thankful for moments like that. It confirms outwardly what I already know on the inside – that my heart has not moved on.

Sometimes I feel guilty for not crying as much as I used to for the son that I lost. I feel guilty for being excited for the baby I’m currently pregnant with. Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. This is when I have to remind myself (again) that I can grieve and celebrate with the same breath. There is no rule against it. Grieving Koda does not take away from my rainbow baby just as celebrating my rainbow does not take away from Koda. I know this, but I have struggled with it from the moment I found out I was pregnant. It can be exhausting at times.

I’m finding myself almost in disbelief that I’ll be having this baby soon.

Every time I look at a calendar, I’m surprised as if I wasn’t already aware of how near we are to the end. I think it’s just hard to believe that we’ve made it this far. The possibility of bringing a living baby home doesn’t feel so far out of reach anymore. Each week of this pregnancy has felt like a huge accomplishment. Some were more significant than others, like passing gestations that I associated with my loss or reaching the third trimester. However with each passing week, I’ve been continuously thankful to put another seven days of this pregnancy behind me while still carrying a healthy, living baby in my womb.

I’ve been reading a few books to help me prepare for labor and delivery. While I’m not new to birth, this will be my first delivery after my loss and that changes things. With my first birth, things didn’t exactly go as planned, but it was still beautiful and empowering. My second birth was, of course, traumatizing in many ways. As I’ve been reading these books, one of which is specific to loss, I’m finding myself emotionally torn once again.

On one hand, I’m actually looking forward to giving birth. Call me crazy, but I really appreciate the process and almost enjoy it. I also feel like I’ll be able to walk into this birth a little better equipped to cope with the physical pain than I was with my first.

On the other hand, I’m nervous that I won’t be prepared emotionally. Everything is different this time. I’m no longer blissfully ignorant to the fact that things could go wrong. I’ve experienced my best and my worst days in the delivery room. I’m not expecting a bad outcome with this birth, but that awareness is annoyingly and constantly present.

Hannah at 33-weeks pregnant - Moving Forward and Holding On

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirk

Thinking about birth is still incredibly hard at times.

Considering I have had both a positive and a negative experience, it’s hard to find a place for my expectations to land. With all of these conflicting emotions in the air, I find myself feeling confident one moment and utterly overwhelmed the next. Sometimes I just have to put the book down, walk away, and think about something else for a while. However, I always come back to it because one way or another, birth is imminent. Right now, I’m counting down by weeks, but before long it’ll be days. I’m trying my best to prepare my body, my mind, and my heart for this baby’s arrival.

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