Today is my first day being 37 weeks pregnant, which means our baby is no longer preterm. This date also marks the one-year anniversary of losing our second pregnancy. I love that both my pregnancies are connected and share milestones today.

“Through this experience I now know that joy and grief hold hands.” -Christina Perri

Pregnant woman on a bed - A Mother's Love: When Loss and Pregnancy After Loss Share Milestones on Valentine's Day

Author’s Personal Collection/Amanda Lockwood

I spent last Valentine’s Day getting an ultrasound to confirm my pregnancy had terminated.

I had already been suffering two weeks of “wait and see” before my body finally let go. Little did I know it would take another four weeks, failed prescriptions, and a D&C before I could get any closure on our loss. To say “the waiting is the hardest part” would be an understatement. I thought miscarriages took hours or days. I have never known a hell so awful as the six-week purgatory my body stood trapped in. Somehow, we stepped out of our darkness and into the light. We conceived this baby just three months after my surgery. A year later, I write this with a very pregnant eight-month belly. A lot can change in a year.

Woman holding positive pregnancy test - A Mother's Love: When Loss and Pregnancy After Loss Share Milestones on Valentine's Day

Author’s Personal Collection/Amanda Lockwood

When you realize how faint the line is between life and loss, a healthy pregnancy very much feels like a miracle. I thought joy would be the overwhelming emotion for this baby. We’ve got a viable pregnancy, right? But anxiety has consumed most days for me. I thought the waiting would be the hardest part, but when I was no longer waiting for my dreadful period, what I was actually waiting for was a lot worse. I found I was waiting for more loss. I expected my pregnancy to suddenly get ripped from me at any minute like the last time. Before my miscarriage, I blindly assumed mothers who suffered loss would simply be thrilled when they got pregnant again! I never considered the overarching worry they might carry alongside their growing bellies. But now I know what people mean when they say it feels like you are holding your breath for nine months. It has been excruciating some days.

My miscarriage was a hard loss to face, but you know what’s been harder? Getting pregnant and being vulnerable with my heart and body.

Because every time there’s a cramp, I wonder if this is the beginning of the end like last time. Some days I hate the mental load of being pregnant after loss. I hate counting kicks. I hate being crippled when my anxiety takes over. I hate missing out on my daughter because I’m blinking back tears of helplessness. I hate that I can’t reciprocate people’s joy because I still don’t want to get my hopes up. I hate that the fear of a stillbirth looms over me. I want to be positive and excited, but I feel paralyzed by my brain at times. I can take the morning sickness and all the physical pain in the world, but it’s HARD to take the emotional pain of being vulnerable to loss again. Even in the third trimester, nothing feels safe like it did in my first pregnancy. I just want this baby to be born – healthy. I want him or her on the outside where I can put my eyes on them and hold their squishy body in my arms forever.

I am fighting like hell to shift the story my brain is telling me. I am preparing for a birth without fear. Every time my mind/body leaps into fight or flight mode, I am trying to breathe and remind myself my symptoms are normal. I am trying to acknowledge my anxiety but defy it by creating a different narrative of trust and hope. My baby is safe, and he/she WILL be born healthy. But nonetheless, this internal battle is still exhausting some days.

When it comes to pregnancy, the world wants baby announcements and sex reveals and birth announcements. It can’t quite seem to handle the concept of infertility or pregnancy loss until it results in a happy ending. But what does that mean for those of us bearing the weight of that journey?

There’s a whole other side of conception and pregnancy we don’t talk about: there is pain and fear and worry and helplessness at times.

And these feelings are normal. They are valid. A lot of us confront them – some more often than others. For many of us, pregnancy is so much more than just the belly bump updates we share. Behind closed doors, pregnancy can be agonizing at times.

Pregnant woman with rainbow on belly - A Mother's Love: When Loss and Pregnancy After Loss Share Milestones on Valentine's Day

Author’s Personal Collection/Amanda Lockwood

When you wonder why people like me cling to rainbows or whatever makes us feel good when we become pregnant again, it is because it feels like a miracle we got here. Legitimately – a freaking miracle. Carrying this baby to term has taken all the strength not just in my body but in my heart and soul and mind. It has taken everything. It has meant surrendering against all odds and just praying for a healthy baby in the end.

I tell my story for other women like me.

I share my experience and normalize pregnancy loss because it is NORMAL. In the first three months of pregnancy, 1 in 4 women will have a miscarriage. It is that common. There is nothing wrong with us or our bodies. It’s not our fault. There should be no shame. There should only be an outpouring of love and support and acceptance. I talk about my miscarriage because I am comfortable doing so and to be a voice for the true journey of pregnancy many of us walk.

When we talk about love this Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about a mother’s love – the devoted, unconditional, vulnerable kind of love that you can’t bottle up. The kind of love that we summon even when we are shattered, empty, and hopeless. The kind of love that rises from the ashes and rises above all odds. The kind of love that keeps coming back no matter how many times she is kicked down. The kind of love that defies all circumstances when a tiny hope grows into a swollen belly and eventually a tiny human. THAT’S some real love.

You can be grateful and still scared. You can be broken and still step forward. You can hold doubt but still harness the strength to carry on. It doesn’t have to be a perfect pregnancy – it can just be a real one. And whatever that means to you is still absolutely, undeniably beautiful.

Sending love to all today, but especially those who are waiting their turn or those who have or are enduring loss. May love conquer all.

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