Hidden in that space of wanting you here so badly is the fear. The fear that you are too large for my body to birth, the fear that I will not open enough for you to fit, the fear of you being unhealthy or dying. I am walking a tightrope of faith and fear right now.
Strangers ask me 100 questions that the billboard of my belly cannot answer so it fills this empty void of silence everywhere; in a grocery store, the bank, the pool, the gym, the locker room shower.
"How may weeks are you?"
"Is this your first?"
"Do you know the gender?"
All questions that I am curious to know when I stumble upon a beautiful pregnant mama, but in my life I have learned to smile at her while silently wishing her peace and a living and healthy baby.
It's not that these questions are anything but naive conversation, but it forces me to be taken out of the present moment to be thrusted into the future, a place that is not guaranteed.. Living in the present is the only space I have control over and any thoughts to this baby's birth and imagining baby at home feel like dejavu, and propels me back to the time in my life where pregnancy equaled life with a baby at home & quite honestly to remember that space traumatizes me.
It's so difficult for others to picture a glimpse into this time, the weight of it, how keeping my composure is a moment by moment task. But I am here, I am present, I am working minute by minute to prepare my body, mind and soul the job that lay ahead, labor and delivery.
My heart is ready for you sweet baby. My chests longs to feel the weight of your beating heart, and I am scared. I am scared I won't get to keep you. I am scared that something is wrong or that your birth will be harmful. What I want to feel is full faith that I am capable to birth you, that you will fit my body perfectly and that you are as anxious to meet me as I am to meet you. .
These waiting days are hard. I have survived the worst, I am waiting to celebrate the best. I hope it's my turn to experience a peaceful delivery this time.
The grief was so hard to live with in the year after Ruthie Lou died and especially while waiting for her brother to be born healthy and living. All encompassing fog reared its ugly head over mine for 24 hours every, single day without fail. There was no escaping and I could not possibly see the sunshine through the storm.
I never imagined how returning to a normal life would feel. I couldn't imagine it, for this life after death was not a life that I had yet lived. The "normal" life before my daughter barely resembles our life now, but normal life has returned. The daily stresses, worries, laughter, joy and best of all, peace. It feels good to breathe the fresh air back into my lungs when for so long, I could hardly breathe at all.
And now, here we are again expecting another rainbow (baby). It brings up all the grief, the fear, the longing. It is again, a conscious choice to tend to my heart, to take care of my health. We live with one foot in holding waiting for baby, as the other moves forward in the life we now lead.
But this sacred time of growth also brings hope. The thought of chancing it all for more joy, more love. Can this baby be ours? Is this real? I love this life growing inside me already-that happened so fast! And it is terrifying. I want to wrap this little one up safely and keep him/her to myself until July arrives and then announce to the world, "baby is here, safe and alive!"
But alas, my belly gives me away. It continues to grow in magnitude and beauty and I cannot hide the joy that this baby has already brought to my life. I am a walking billboard for all baby questions, comments and advice. I smile, am gracious and grateful for offered joy but although my skin is thicker now, I am still scared. I want this baby so bad, it hurts.
So while my chest has tightened once again with grief surfacing amongst joy, I know that there is light through this fog. I need only put one foot in front of the other. I make the decision each day to lean into the innocent joy of others and hope with all hope that this is our second happy ending.
All while I wait to smell that fresh air again. Because this time, I know it's there.
What does pregnancy after loss looks like?
This is not my first rainbow baby but it may as well be. I got pregnant with my son four months after my daughter died at 33 days old. I don't know if the exhaustion from that time was from pregnancy or from grief, but I was knocked out for quite some time.
This time four years later, I thought it would feel different-better or easier perhaps. As if being pregnant and caring for a toddler would be any easier than being pregnant and grief stricken. They are both so challenging. But this time I'm out of the fog of grief. So I'm very clear when my emotions are overtaking me.
Today I needed to find a sweater that's it. I came out to the bins of clothes that I had saved from both my pregnancies-five bins in total. We recently moved so most my bins have lost their labels forcing me to delve into every single bin on the shelf. The very last one, the big one, contained my daughters quilt for her crib, clothes from hanging in her closet and the letters that spelled her name on the wall. I pulled out the special clothes remembering my girlfriends who bought and hung them on the wall of my baby shower. The quilt was longed for, for weeks I searched until I found the perfect one. And the letters (they never had the chance to be painted) are now missing a few because I borrowed them to share with her brother and they hang on the wall of his toddler room.
I could feel my stomach rise to my throat and I felt the surge of heat overcome me that I experienced when they told me my daughter wouldn't survive. I rushed back inside to vomit. I sipped my lemon water and cooled my face to recover.
This pregnancy (as I tell myself) is a different story, a different baby, a different journey and outcome, but it is terrifying nonetheless. I have moments of panic and moments of peace, but I'm always giving my myself the grace that my emotions are part of the process and in order to maintain health, feeling them are all part of it.
This is pregnancy after loss. It never ends. It doesn't discriminate and appears anywhere, anytime-even from inside garage bins.
You've been in my heart
since the moment I knew you'd one day be in my arms.
I knew you were special,
I knew you were meant to be.
I've waited for now,
the moment to know my family is complete
and for my broken heart
to be finally be whole with you in it.
You complete the five of us,
you make us one.
You bring all of what makes you special,
you are our precious third baby child.
As we wait to hold you,
I hold you close.
You live under my heart,
as I wait for you to live in my arms.
Grow, baby grow.
Healthy brain, body and whole.
'm here, nurturing you, nourishing you,
I am a mama of three beautiful babes; two boys I have the honor of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.