I didn’t know how I was going to do it.
How I was going to endure 40 weeks—if everything went as I hoped it would—of pregnancy after loss.
I stared at the positive pregnancy test in disbelief. I wanted to be excited. I wanted to feel only joy. But the subtle excitement flitting around within me could not compete with the overwhelming fear that washed over me.
Maybe this time will be different, I silently willed myself to believe. Or maybe this baby will die too, the voice in my head yelled back.
For the first two months of my pregnancy, I tried to live as normally as possible. I went on walks, I had friends over for dinner, I went to movies with my husband. Anxiety and fear hovered over me each day, but I refused to stop living completely. I was going to be brave. I was going to be strong. I was going to take care of business while taking care of my body and the one within it. That is, until losing another baby—my rainbow baby—came up just short of reality.
I had just crossed the threshold into the second trimester when, after an ultrasound, I was informed that my cervix was already shortening and that my baby was in great danger. I was put on bed rest, only to later discover that there seemed to have been a mistake in interpreting the ultrasound. After closer inspection, my cervix appeared long, strong, and capable of keeping my baby in my womb. Nonetheless, my doctors advised that I stay off my feet as much as possible just to be safe, and after walking through loss twice, I wasn’t going to argue.
But as a stay-at-home mom, I wondered how I could possibly do that. I had a living child to care for. I had day-to-day responsibilities that were necessary in keeping a household up and running. I had things to do.
How could I care for what was inside me AND what was in front of me if I stayed off my feet?
I was afraid to move. Afraid to go anywhere. Afraid to do anything. A year earlier, I’d given birth to a stillborn baby after my water broke during the second trimester of my pregnancy and I so desperately feared it happening again.
How would I do it? How would I do my best to protect my unborn baby and take care of my living child as well as our household?
The answer is I wouldn’t. Not all of it anyway. But my husband would. He would fill in for me as much as he could and together we’d do our best to care for the baby who had yet to be born.
I would stay off my feet, as much as possible anyway, in order to give our rainbow baby the best chance at life. And my husband would do almost everything else.
He worked his 40+ hour per week office job while taking on the roles of grocery shopper, housecleaner, and chef. He became the primary caretaker for our daughter after arriving home from long days at work. He fed her, bathed her, and put her to bed. He did laundry and vacuumed. He even moved us into a new house with zero help from me. All on top of his normal husband and dad duties.
And me? Well, mostly I could be found in bed or on the couch, you know, staying off my feet. Counting kicks. Praying. And waiting impatiently for my baby to move again.
My husband sacrificed endlessly—his time, his energy, his sanity, and himself. Not once did he make himself a priority. And it was all without complaint.
He took care of me, and in doing so, he took care of our unborn child. I was the primary caregiver for that little baby in a way my husband never could be. But he took care of what turned out be our son by doing what was best for me.
No, he didn’t carry our baby, but he sure carried the weight of my pregnancy after loss. And he did it well.
Without him, I couldn’t have stayed off my feet. I couldn’t have followed my doctors’ recommendations. I couldn’t have focused primarily on the most vulnerable one among us.
Very simply, I couldn’t have done it.
The journey of pregnancy after loss was long and hard on both of us. Nothing is more stressful than the uncertainty of whether your baby is going to live or die. Besides giving birth to a stillborn baby, going through pregnancy after loss was the hardest thing I’d done. And I think I can say the same for my husband.
But he did everything he could to make it just a little easier for me.
And when our little boy was born, his sharp cry a stark contrast to our previous birth experience, there was no doubt that the extra weight my husband carried had been every bit worth it.