I hope this letter finds you well, and you know how strong you are, right now, in this moment.
I want you to know something. I want you to know you are not alone. Not only are you not alone, you are seen. You are recognized. You, and all your babies, are beautiful, celebrated, and recognized.
As a queer woman, and as a mama to a starside child, I know what it’s like to be unseen. To have those vital pieces of yourself hidden away, camouflaged under the surface of what the world sees. To correct and answer questions you don’t feel like you should need to: is your husband excited, is this your first, aren’t you thrilled. I would answer: my wife, no, I’m scared.
Pregnancy is a journey. How many times have we heard that, you and I? We know all too well it is perilous; one does not simply walk through pregnancy and birth. It is hard terrain, uncharted territory every time. You, warrior mama, journey as explorer and cartographer. The road isn’t mapped until your feet have drawn it; there is no knowing where it ends until it disappears from underneath.
I’ve seen you, out on that terrifying terrain.
I’ve seen you at work, at the store, at the holiday party. Maybe you haven’t announced yet; there is no way to do that without remembering the one who couldn’t stay. Maybe you have, and have already been barraged with platitudes and hopeful but worried hand pats. No one knew what to say after your heartbreak; no one is quite sure what to say now. Unless, that is, they have their own map tucked somewhere safe, tear-stained with soft edges from being revisited so many times.
I recognize the one who carried life, who met with Death, and now walks heavier with the weight of loss. I see the pause before the smile, the one that doesn’t quite reach your eyes, scared of the grief that hides in their depths. I know the hesitation in the hands that stray to your belly, guided by the promise of new life, slowed by the fear of new loss.
You, sweet mama, are a trailblazer.
With love as your compass, you navigate this world that so often overlooks you. Even if no one else does, you hold space for your little one; I know you wish you could be holding their hand as your body breathes with new life. You remember everything you ever knew about them. The days pass as you mark them: birth date, loss date, due date. You say their name; you whisper it to the shadows or scream it to the wind. I hear you.
While you are the only one who knows your journey, you are not alone. I know the sorrow, the unfairness of it all; I have served deep in the trenches of grief. I have waited for the sunrise after interminable nights, only for dawn to arrive steely gray and without warmth. I remember longing for the movements only I could feel; and when they finally came, I remember the panic that rushed in alongside the euphoria.
Brave mama, you are not alone.
When you voice the name of the one who couldn’t stay, you are not alone.
When you aren’t sure how to answer if this is your first child, you are not alone.
When you awake in the night to count kicks, you are not alone.
You have a lifetime membership to a group no one wants to join. You are a loss mama; you have undertaken another arduous journey with no guarantee of a happy destination. Your strength is showing, mama.
You might not feel like you can enjoy this pregnancy as you did with another. The joys are tempered with worries, and every milestone casts a shadow. You know there’s no safe zone, no week to reach that means the way forward is clear. Yet you rise each day and continue onward.
Your hopes and plans float in a sea of “ifs.” The uncertainty itself is stressful, adding weight to your changing body. Still, you persist.
You hold a love that is precious, valid, and forever. You have made room in your heart to accommodate a child who could not stay in this world and still expanded to introduce another.
Do you know how strong you are? I do.
And you take that love and let it guide you, let it light the unbroken trail ahead of you. And although you cannot see, out there in the darkness, that light shines for all of us who walk with you. We see you. We know you. We hold you and your babies up.
So, courageous mama, keep going; and know that you are not alone.
With love and light,
Mother to Oscar Prince, a starside wild child, and Lucy Danger, an earthside bright and shining light.
This letter is included in our book, Pregnancy After Loss Support: Love Letters to the Mom Pregnant After Loss, edited by Emily Long and Lindsey Henke.
Get your copy on Amazon* or Bookshop* today.
*This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using this link, you also support PALS without it costing anything extra for you — a total win-win!
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