Happy Christmas week, if you celebrate. I wish I had some deep, moving insight to share around the significance of being pregnant at Christmastime, or Jesus coming as a baby to offer us hope… But I’m afraid that’s as far as I can get. We’re with family, attempting to feel festive, but really, we’re just surviving. I was looking forward to getting away and hoping the distractions of food and family would be a relief from the repetitiveness of normal life. But now that we’re here, it’s difficult not to see the missing piece everywhere: there should be one more cousin adding to the chaos, our car should be filled with a car seat and pram and presents, my parents should be enjoying time with their fourth grandchild. Dottie would be almost six months old, but she’s missing her first Christmas.

Christmas booties bought for Dottie; hopefully to be shared by sibling next year - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 16: To Announce or Not To Announce

Christmas booties bought for Dottie; hopefully to be shared by sibling next year – Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

This pregnancy has complicated our grief, for sure, and sometimes the fear is overwhelming. But there is now a small voice of hope, too. When my heart is aching for my daughter, who should be with us for our first Christmas as parents, I am nudged by this small voice, saying maybe next year. Maybe next year, there will be one more cousin, one more high chair around the table, one more voice adding to the chaos. Maybe next year, the Christmas onesies will be worn, the stocking will be filled, and the presents will actually get used. No one will ever replace our firstborn, but maybe filling our arms will make our hearts ache a little less.

We announced our pregnancy on social media a few days ago.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, at first. This life inside me feels so fragile and precious, almost as if spreading the news too carelessly might cause it harm. And there is fear, so much fear. What if I announce today and lose the baby tomorrow? What if one day I have to make another social media post, telling the world that another baby has died? And yet, if I’ve learned anything from losing Dottie, it’s that life in the womb is real. Dottie’s life is no less significant because it was cut short. In the days after she was born, we decided to share the news on social media and post photos of her because we wanted everyone to know what a significant thing had happened to us – her life and her death. We weren’t ashamed of her or her place in our family; we were proud of our beautiful baby girl and wanted to share her with the world.

And so with this new life, even if one day I have to share the terrible news that we had lost them too, why shouldn’t I let people celebrate them with us now?

Last week I saw a pregnancy announcement on Facebook from an old acquaintance, smiling faces from her, her husband, and their toddler holding a scan photo: their second pregnancy. It felt like a punch to my stomach. Even though I had also just had my 12-week scan, the time people typically share their news. I envied their joy and their confidence, “Baby number 2 arriving next year.” What must it be like to be so sure of a baby’s arrival? And then a new, quieter thought hit me for the first time: this is baby number 2 for us too, but we have no smiling toddler in a “big sister” jumper.

After a few days of mulling over my reaction to this announcement, Tom told me that he had written a blog post documenting some of our feelings about pregnancy after loss, and he wanted to share it with his Facebook friends. I panicked.

He is an incredible writer, and I wanted to honor his desire to share, but I had just assumed that we would not be announcing this pregnancy. After thinking about it, I told him that he could post it after my next midwife appointment, if everything seemed ok (it did, and the heartbeat was heard!). So we shared our news. His writing explained to our friends just how terrifying and complicated the last few months have been, and will no doubt continue to be, and I posted our scan photo (next to Dottie’s ornament on the Christmas tree) on Instagram, trying to capture the mix of fear and celebration that I’m trying to balance. And our friends responded so kindly and gently, celebrating with us but not dismissing our anxiety.

Announcing a pregnancy after loss (or any pregnancy, for that matter) is a complicated decision, and there is no right or wrong. But I don’t want to place the value of this baby’s life on whether they arrive earthside or not. There is a baby living in my womb, and we will celebrate them.

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