Loss changes so many things in a person’s life.  There are times of loneliness and feeling helpless.  There are moments of not understanding why this had to happen. There is often a feeling of regret and overwhelming sadness, and there may at times be a feeling of wishing that the loss had never happened. And yet, just sometimes in the midst of all of this comes something unexpected, something beautiful and a little dash of hope.

When we venture back in to the world and begin the journey again of pregnancy and parenting after the death of a child, it can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It is not unusual for families to find that they are pregnant again soon after their baby has died, with many experiencing the 1st anniversary of their baby’s death in the midst of the new pregnancy, or close to the due date. This adds an extra layer of grief and emotions that may fall alongside the joy and anticipation of new life.

It was almost 5 years ago that my first son Adam died, and a year later I too found myself in this situation. I was pregnant, and approaching the first anniversary of Adam’s birth and death, and ironically facing the same gestation that I was when Adam died with this new baby. I found myself torn between grief and fear, and on the day of Adam’s 1st angelversary I gravitated between intense sadness and anger, to guilt that I was torn between Adam and this new life inside of me, with a small amount of relief that I was pregnant again. I was angry that it seemed that everyone was more interested in talking about the new baby, and not talking about the other little baby that had come and gone in an instant on this day a year ago. It seemed to me that until this point, I didn’t know how to connect and enjoy this new pregnancy, and I didn’t know how to let people in to have permission to enjoy it as well. I wasn’t ready to let go of the grief, so I had to find a way to live life around it instead.

My newborn son's feet at only 10 days old

My newborn son’s feet at only 10 days old

I did make it through to the end of this pregnancy and a new, squishy, beautiful baby boy was born. It wasn’t without its challenges, but at last I had a live baby. I remember watching every move he made and wondered would Adam have been like this if he was here today. Would he have had the same personality?  Would he have looked the same? Would he have the same cheeky smile?

Most people I know say that my son looks just like me, and I wonder would Adam have looked like me or his dad. There are just so many things that I wonder about, and even now 5 years on I wonder what it would have been like if he started school this year. I don’t feel like the wondering moments are as frequent or as intense as they were in the first few months or year after my live son was born, but just on occasion I do find myself thinking would my two beautiful earthly children I have now be here if Adam was… if I think too long on this it does my head in!

One of things that really helped me was that I remember the night Adam was born being amazed at how at only 17 weeks gestation he looked so perfect. He had fingernails, toenails, eyebrows and these distinct arched soles on his feet. I have painfully flat feet so I remembered feeling a sense of love to the fact he had feet just like his dad’s, and not mine.

When my next son was born it dawned on me that he had flat feet just like me and that he was indeed different to Adam. I knew he wasn’t a replacement for Adam, but I needed something to help me know they were different and special in their own right, and so this discovery of little feet just brought another level of healing for me. Of course there may have been similarities still, but it was just something to help me distinguish between the two and I can now safely know in my heart they are different.

So I wonder, what have you noticed about your rainbow babies that are similar or different to your precious baby who died? And how do you cope with the wonderings?

foot

Adam McKinnon – 1st November 2009. These are his tiny footprints.

 

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