My daughter Aisley Evelyn died the same day she was born on August 5th, 2012. She was a healthy, full term baby girl yet she passed away during labor. She was my first-born. Her passing left a scar on my heart as deep as the sea, maybe even deeper. Losing her has transformed me as a woman, as a mother and as a human being. Ripped to shreds and reassembled, I am new.
Many people cannot comprehend what a loss like that does to a mother.
As I grieved, and yes I will forever grieve, I found my longing to have a family remained. I spent nine months processing my daughter’s death, celebrating her existence and mustering up the courage to try to conceive her brother or sister. In April of 2013 I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I was as terrified as I was overjoyed.
Everyone told me Oh it’ll be fine. There’s no way it’ll happen again. Don’t worry. Focus on the positive, you have a second chance to be a mother…
No one ever seems to know the right thing to say.
If only they could understand the fear that pregnancy after loss brings. Perhaps an analogy could help. You see a large flower and place your first-born baby on it. The flower closes and suffocates your child to death. Pregnancy after loss asks you to place your second baby onto that same flower and hope it doesn’t close.
I found myself overwhelmed at times, distraught that my son would die like his sister. Throughout my entire pregnancy I didn’t really believe he would live. This sounds like pessimism to most but it is normal to us.
Pregnant moms need a lot of support throughout their pregnancy after loss. I hope to help by answering some difficult questions I myself had during my own.
How can you get through the intense fear that pregnancy after loss brings?
When I found myself frightened I would allow myself to feel it. I would process what I was feeling, full force. I let my fears announce themselves.
This baby could die too. I could be grieving another loss. This fear will drive me insane. I’m not strong enough for this…
I listened. I felt. I wept.
I would hold and gently stroke my round belly and take deep, hearty breaths. I would begin talking to my baby.
I love you so much. It will be a magnificent day when I meet you. This time with you right now is all I have and in this moment you are alive and with me.
I would tell myself these things and often found it calming. The most important thing I could remind myself was that all we have is the present moment. In that moment my baby was perfect and alive. In that moment all was well.
Right now is all there is. Right now your baby is perfect and alive. Right now all is well.
Each time my fears tried to take over I would repeat this and I would find myself back with my baby, rubbing my belly and everything was okay.
How can I let myself connect and bond with my baby when I’m so afraid he/she will die as well?
Sometimes women find it difficult to allow themselves to connect with their subsequent babies. They feel if they don’t bond with the baby they can protect themselves from some of the pain if this baby dies as well. This is a false sense of control. I chose to fully bond and fall in love with my baby. I reminded myself that although I have no control and my baby could die, I would be no less devastated by trying to be distant. No matter how long my son was alive I would love him. Whether it was 9 months in utero or 90 years here on earth I would soak up every second. I had 9 months with my daughter and I loved her every moment, my son deserved the same.
The fear of losing someone can be overwhelming but the reality is we could lose anyone at any time. I will not let fear of losing someone stop me from loving them, in fact I will love them even more. Love is a risk. Getting pregnant again is a risk. The only way to avoid potential pain is to never try to have a baby again, to never love, and that was not an option for me.
Trying again is choosing love.
Remind yourselves of the love you have for your babies who have passed. Allow yourselves to love the babies you are carrying. You’ve taken a brave step now ride through the rough waters and navigate through your fear. Breathe. Rest in the moments you have with your baby…right now. Great risk often comes with great reward.