Losing our daughter, Sophie, in September 2021 feels like just yesterday. But it also feels like a lifetime ago. I celebrated my 30th birthday wishing she was with us, we experienced our first holiday season without her, and we even passed her due date in early January. All of these moments are filled with so much pain and yet we felt joy at the same time through all of them.

Shannyn, Michael, and Sophie: Walking hand-in-hand with grief and joy

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

How is it possible for these two completely different emotions to coexist?

I am currently 9 weeks and 4 days pregnant with Sophie’s little brother or sister and this is the question we’ve been asking ourselves since we found out that we’re pregnant again. We have moments of overwhelming gratitude followed by overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Picture this, you’re watching a new TV show and they introduce a character that shares the same name as your angel baby. Your stomach drops, tears form in the corner of your eyes and your lips start quivering. That grief can hit like a ton of bricks when you least expect it. Then, you get up from watching the TV show to escape the grief and you feel a twinge of round ligament pain. A reminder of joy and new life. New tears form, but this time they’re happy tears. Another ton of bricks hit from a different direction.

Sophie's footprints on beach - Walking hand-in-hand with grief and joy

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

This kind of emotional tug of war is something that I’d imagine all loss moms understand. It’s exhausting and it can stop you dead in your tracks some days.

It’s taking me time to learn how to find the balance, but so far I’ve found a few things that help me.

1. Acknowledge gratitude.

Each day, I get up and remind myself how lucky I am that I get to carry life inside of me again and how much of a privilege it is.

2. Welcome grief.

I try to give myself space to feel scared, sad and anxious when I recognize these emotions. I have found that trying to suppress these feelings does more harm than good.

3. Allow for self-care.

I set little goals for myself each week: take time to go out with friends, set aside moments for relaxation or reflection, keep my routine or find a new routine. Anything that will help with my mental health.

I do what I can to ensure that I am present for those moments of grief, but I also try to feel those moments of joy as deeply as possible. I know we have a long way to go in this pregnancy and life is not guaranteed, but I am anticipating that I will learn something new each day and I will welcome the chance to learn. Recently, I found an excerpt from the poem “Auguries of Innocence” by William Blake that seems like the perfect words to leave you with.

Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine

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