I’m sorry if anything I’m about to say comes out wrong. It’s the ugly side of loss, and pregnancy after that loss. I’m not proud of the green monster that takes over sometimes. The angry, bitter, and just plain sad.
Last week my beautiful cousin gave birth to her first baby, a perfect little girl. She was in labor for hours. During that time there was a flurry of texts and calls. All excited, all well wishing. Group texts about how amazing this is, and how happy we all are.
I felt all these things – after all, I love my cousin dearly – but my first thought was “please just let the baby be ok”.
Unfortunately, every time I see a pregnant woman – this is always my first thought. It’s often been echoed by my 5 year old who will see a baby belly and ask me innocently if the baby will die. Please let me make this clear. I would not wish this loss on anyone. Not on my worst enemy, and especially not on anyone I love. But the veil of ignorance to the world of baby loss has been lifted for me, and now I’ll never be able to look at pregnancy the same.
My phone excitedly buzzed all day. I went from trying to be engaged, to ignoring my phone. This next part is hard for me to admit. But – the joy of it all – it made me feel angry. It made me feel bitter. It bubbled up in my gut. I spent the day wondering how I could be such a monster.
Why I couldn’t bring myself to just say “this is so exciting” along with the chorus. Why couldn’t I say “Congratulations!”
I was, after all, excited for my cousin. I missed the old version of myself that would be at the hospital buying balloons and cute teddy bears.
I had to face this newer version of myself. I stared at myself in the mirror. Puffy eyed from tears of anxiety. Jittery hands from wringing them. And underneath my skin I could swear I saw a tinge of green. The envy monster peeking out. Was I jealous of the joy? Jealous that the last time I was giving birth was completely void of all happiness. Was it that I was bitter that I would never go back to that unstained, happy, balloon buying woman? Was I angry that other woman didn’t ever have to understand these feelings?
No, I don’t want more people to understand this pain. I wanted less. Less women who had to say goodbye to their babies instead of “Hello”.
I was a mess. Flashbacks of my sons birth, and flash forwards to the anxiety of my Rainbow’s birth. The phone still buzzing and me – desperately wanting to crawl into a hole. Not wanting this beautiful moment for my family to even glance in the direction of my ugliness. This wasn’t about me.
Too many hours later I got the text and the picture. My cousin’s beautiful baby girl. Healthy. Big chubby cheeks. Perfect button nose. She was here. She was ok. Her heart was beating. I started sobbing. I was so overcome with happiness for my cousin. I have never before felt such relief. All of a sudden – the monster was melting away. The ugliness was leaving. The envy, the anger. I felt the joy. The part of me that broke earlier was healing again. Experiencing my cousin having a healthy baby – it added a little more faith that I could have one.
It reminded me that it’s not always bad.
During all this I mused with another loss mom who is also pregnant. Will we always be this bitter? Will other people’s births always be this hard? Will our support groups turn from “Pregnancy After Loss Support” to – “Menopausal and Looking at Pregnant Women after Loss Support” As we untangle the grief web, what damage will always be residual? There is no way to know what the future holds.
But there is no dealing with the monsters unless you face them.I stared down at belly. My daughter kicking and egging me on. I took a deep breath, and picked up my phone.