I write to support other women who are experiencing pregnancy after loss as someone who has been through it herself. I too carried my second child in the space his sister died. I’ve shared your worries and anxieties. I too wasn’t sure I had the courage to get through it. I write to you from the other side of those fears to help give you strength. There is no guarantee that everything will be fine, I won’t placate you, but I will tell you it is worth it. The love for your baby and the chance that it will be okay must drive you. Hope must drive you. After all you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have hope.
As I raise my seven-month-old son that palpable fear is more of a distant memory. I wish to bring you some relief in knowing that it doesn’t hold you forever. It won’t hold you the way it does right now. Today I want to tap back into my former pregnant self. I want to share her thoughts with you. The best way for me to accomplish this is to share the words I wrote while I carried my son; the thoughts I had when I didn’t know he would be okay.
I documented my pregnancy in my blog A Girl Named Kevin and there are two poignant posts I feel may help you. The first post is about how I coped with my fear and panic. It shows me right in front of my fear. Losing my daughter at 41 weeks during labor left me no relief until the moment my son was born. I’m also sharing the second post as it talks about my experience after giving birth to my living baby. This was me just beyond my fear.
November 27th, 2013
This Place Right Now
I’m feeling good today. Maybe I should be even more specific…I’m feeling good in this moment, right now. As this pregnancy progresses (rapidly might I add, I am already 34 weeks) I have to reel myself in from thinking too much in the past or future. My head often goes to the despair of what happened to my daughter and morphs into the dread that it could happen to my son…and it could happen, anything could happen, but when I find myself in this head-space I acknowledge it and talk myself back down.
I see myself up on the high ledge of a cliff, desperately clawing at tree roots and earth to pull myself back up. I see the dirt fall to my face and that my eyes are closed tightly and I’m choking and crying. I shout to myself from below “just step down!“…and watch as I eventually lower myself down to the sturdy branch just below me, the one that’s been there all along. When I can feel the ground beneath my feet holding me steady… When I can breath in and out and feel my pounding heart slow to a calm, stable beat… When I can open my eyes and see that right now I’m safe and my son is safe, that we’re okay… I know I’m back to now, I’m back in my heart. The funny thing is knowing that this place, this place right now, is really the only place that exists, yet I find myself having to rediscover it through my imagined maze. Each time I rediscover it I find I’m able to stay a little bit longer. Maybe one day I can live here.
January 15th, 2014
I only have a short while to write as my son softly snoozes on my chest…you have no idea how amazing it feels to be able to say that.
There are a handful of days in my life I will never forget. Two of those days are the birthdays of my babies, Aisley’s birthday and Meyer’s birthday. Both of these particular days have fundamentally changed me. I am different because of them. I have shared how losing Aisley on her birthday affected me; today I want to share a little bit about my son’s birthday.
I want to focus on the moment I experienced with my son rather than the entire labor. That moment is what holds everything. It is where my heart lives. I’ve written about my anticipation of this moment, my fears surrounding it…will I hear him cry? Will he be okay? Will I be able to cope with the emotion that moment will hold?
Here is that moment.
I had been pushing around forty minutes and could see in the mirror they held up for me that my son was mere seconds away from being born. The encouragement and chanting of everyone surrounding me helped me press on. I was so exhausted I needed every ounce of energy to keep pushing. The support offered held my weak body up and I was able to find that last sliver of strength and pull it toward me. One final push…
…and he was born.
Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I didn’t hear an immediate cry. I waited for my midwives to reassure me he was okay but I was in such a haze that I’m not sure I’d have heard it if they did. I was almost outside of myself. They placed my son on my chest and I held my breath….
He looked up at me with alert, instantly curious eyes. He was alive and healthy.
I burst in to tears. Never in my life have I released my emotion with such abandon. Never in my life have I felt such pure joy. As if every layer of doubt, fear, anger and sorrow I’d been walking around in for the last year and a half…the shell I’d enclosed myself in…shattered around me, broke apart and crashed to the floor. I was down to my newest skin and my son was alive.
The intense gratitude I felt in that moment, realizing my son was alive, rivaled the intense shock I felt when I realized Aisley was dead. Such power behind each feeling, the world would be too much to bear if we always felt so strongly. Elation for my son and devastation for my daughter. These countering experiences don’t erase each other. They live together.
Eventually they lifted him to the side to check him and I heard a loud healthy cry, a hearty wail expanding his little lungs. It was the best sound I’ve ever heard. I wept with him, sucking in the air around me hoping to capture it…because in this air my son is alive. As I breathe now, he lives. This was real. My husband cried next to me and we embraced in complete relief. We did it we said over and over…we did it, he’s really here.
Sweet Pea, who you may all now know as Meyer, is here and he is beautiful. He has changed me as much as his sister has. I love them both so much. I didn’t know this much love could exist. I wish Aisley were here, but my heart is full with them and always will be. I am grateful.
I hope these posts will help carry you to your moment. Just breathe and take this pregnancy second by second until you are there.