This is officially the farthest I’ve ever made it in a pregnancy. I was induced and delivered my first baby right at thirty-eight weeks due to gestational hypertension. My body seems to have handled this pregnancy much better than it did my first two. Physically these past nine months have been pretty easy-going, but emotionally it’s been anything but.

Hannah holding a rainbow in front of her pregnant belly - Hannah's Bump Day Blog, Week 38: The Finish Line

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirk

My family and I are all a little on edge in these final days.

When I grimace over normal pregnancy aches, my husband is quick to ask what is going on. My daughter is not so sure about the idea of us going to the hospital without her, but she’s excited for her baby brother to be born. I’m vigilantly watching for any sign of a problem and for the start of labor. My nesting instincts have kicked in full force. It feels like the days grow shorter while my to do list grows longer. To top it all off, my anxiety has hit highs and lows over the past couple of weeks. It’s one extreme or the other. I’m either calmly preparing or so anxious that I feel frozen. Here at the end, I’m finding that we’re all reacting to the end of this pregnancy in ways that are normal for any family about to welcome another baby into the world, but also in ways unique to families who have experienced loss.

It’s been almost a year since my last baby was born silently into the world. My loss date with one baby and due date with another being on the same day has been hard on my heart. Some view it as redemptive, but it honestly hurts more than anything. I’ve had to answer the question “when is your due date” more times than I can count. It’s come up a lot more lately seeing as it’s clear that I’m near the end of this pregnancy. Every time I answer, my heart sinks a little because that date holds so much weight emotionally.

It’s sometimes hard to juggle the many emotions tied up in all of this. I’m nervously excited for this baby’s birth. It’s hard to believe that it’s finally (almost) here. I’ve also been more emotional lately and missing my son, Koda. There are days that my body physically aches for him and the tears just won’t stop. It’s happened more lately as we approach his first birthday.

Even though I’m just days away from holding my rainbow baby, my arms have not stopped aching for my baby who died.

While it’s been so healing to love and prepare for another baby, it doesn’t remove the scars left from my loss. Losing a baby inflicts permanent damage. No amount of time, subsequent children, or anything else can fill the void they leave. It’s a wound that will never fully heal this side of Heaven.

At the same time, I can acknowledge that there truly is beauty here. I see it in my living child who is more empathetic than most kids her age. I see it in the love we carry in our hearts for our baby in Heaven. I see it in the little one in my womb who has taught me more than he could ever know. I see it in my husband who has held me, supported me, and grieved with me over the last year. I see it in myself. I’m not who I once was. I miss the woman I was before my baby died and I welcome the person I’ve grown into since. Each of my kids have helped make me into a better person in their own special ways.

It’s been a long year and a long nine months. I’m beyond ready to say goodbye to pregnancy after loss and welcome a healthy baby into our arms. The finish line is in sight. While it does signify an end, it is also a starting gate for parenting this baby born after loss. I’m ready to accept whatever joys and challenges are on the other side.

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