April 1st was one of the first days I checked on a calendar after I learned I was pregnant last fall. April 1st would be the first anniversary of my son Arthur’s birth and death. I wanted to know how far along I would be if this pregnancy lasted. 30 weeks. That seemed good, it seemed hopeful. So I crossed my fingers, held my breath and hoped that this baby would grow and I would stay healthy.
Now, I am 30 weeks pregnant with my daughter on my son’s first birthday. That works out to 5 months between pregnancies and hopefully about 14 months between our two precious babies.
In the early fog of grief, we had no idea how we were going to move forward with our lives or growing our family. To be fair, we also had no idea how we were going to feed ourselves, go back to work, or survive the 1st of every month. But the decision about having another child became pretty important to address as my body resumed its predictable rhythm about six weeks after losing Arthur.
My heart was still in pieces, but my body continued on with minimal interruption – an early lesson in finding both comfort and grief concurrently in all aspects of life after loss.
It was then that we tried to wrap our minds around what a pregnancy after loss would look like. I talked with an OB and learned more about what “high risk” meant for me. We talked with other parents who were years or decades out from losing children and listened to the grief and the heartache they still felt on a daily basis. During this time, my husband and I kept coming back to one conclusion… this was not going to be an easy journey.
Another pregnancy would be a time where grief and joy had to coexist and anxiety would overshadow both on a regular basis. This would be as true three months after our loss as it would be five years after our loss.
So we tried to keep ourselves healthy, we held our support network a little closer, and we decided to try to have another baby just a few months after we lost our precious son.
I often wonder if a little more time would have made the terror I felt the week we saw two pink lines a little less intense. Or maybe with a few more months, my husband and I would have been able to make it through the very first ultrasound without both of us sobbing ugly tears and feeling like we should have reassured the ultrasound tech that we were indeed happy about this pregnancy. Maybe more time would have made it easier for some in our extended network to understand that we are still actively grieving our little boy… Maybe, but who knows.
Overall, I just feel really thankful for the timing of my pregnancies. Through our losses, I’ve lost a lot of faith in pregnancy and my body. Our early loss robbed me of the peace of mind that a positive pregnancy test will result in a healthy pregnancy. Our full term loss robbed me of the peace of mind that a healthy pregnancy will result in a living child.
But, miraculously, we are able to conceive and this particular little girl has persisted so far. I do not take these things for granted. The kicking and wiggling reminder of those huge gifts made the lead up to Arthur’s first birthday a little easier.
As we marked Arthur’s birthday this past weekend, I was hyper aware of my daughter’s presence in my belly. She was wide awake with me when I had a hard time sleeping. She kept me company as I fussed and cried and baked Arthur’s birthday cake. And she wiggled around while her dad rested his hand on my belly at the end of a long, emotional weekend. I’ll remember a lot of things about Arthur’s first birthday and an overwhelming gratitude for our daughter’s presence with us is definitely one of them. It was a tougher day than I’d imagined, but I’m grateful she is here.