One of the perks of pregnancy is the supposed pregnancy glow – a stunning complexion resulting from pregnancy hormones and perhaps the excitement of carrying new life within.
It’s something strangers and acquaintances alike seem to enjoy pointing out to a pregnant woman.
“You’re glowing,” people will say to a woman who is tenderly running a hand over her expanding belly.
The glow is beautiful and it’s associated with the sacred beauty of pregnancy, of growing a tiny human – the beauty of new life.
But a woman who is pregnant after loss may not be glowing because the clouds of loss loom, leaving shadows instead of light.
You see, for a woman who has already lost a baby, the seeds of fear are planted as soon as the second line appears on another pregnancy test. And before long, the weeds of uncertainty, even hopelessness, take root.
During my rainbow pregnancy, no one complimented me on my glowing complexion – because I didn’t have one. Instead, my complexion was dull, the result of grief, stress, and worry.
To put it mildly, I looked rather weary and worn. The frown lines in my face deepened and my worry wrinkles increased exponentially. I didn’t have the energy to put much effort into my appearance, and frankly that was the last thing on my mind.
I wasn’t a glowing pregnant woman, and honestly, sometimes I felt like I was barely even alive. For me, pregnancy after loss was about survival. Yes, I was grateful. Yes, I clung to that thread of hope.
But whatever glow I might have had was snuffed out by relentless waves of heavy emotion. And the heartache was heavier than the hope.
I wasn’t glowing, not even close. But something was. One small light that couldn’t be seen by onlookers.
It was the glow of my baby’s tiny heart. Each week, I watched it flutter brightly on an otherwise dark screen. I saw the glow of life. I saw the glow of love. I saw my baby.
Those moments were enough to set my own heart on fire, to ignite within me a glow that couldn’t be found on my face. My baby was alive. My baby existed. And even if he didn’t survive, the fact would remain that he had lived. And that in itself was beautiful. In the moments of darkness. In the shadows of loss and life. In the absence of a glowing complexion. In the uncertain waiting. Maybe that was enough. Maybe his life right then and there, regardless of how long it would be, was enough.
Because the light of a person’s life, a baby’s life – their impact on us and the love we feel for them – well, those things can never be snuffed out. The glow of their beautiful existence will always be present. Whether anyone else sees it or not.