Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy after loss

Two and a half years after the stillbirth of my second daughter and nine months after a miscarriage, I found myself finally pregnant again and facing an excruciating and long 40 weeks.  I can think of few other times in my life when I have been as uncertain and scared as with the pregnancy of my rainbow baby.  To have had losses and know it could happen again is agonizing.  To know this pregnancy may end at any point or that an alive baby may not even be the end result is heart wrenching. 

I did not cope with the early days of my rainbow’s pregnancy well and was in denial for the first 14 weeks.  I wouldn’t let anyone talk about it.  I was preparing for more loss.  My mind was trying to protect my spirit from more heartbreak.  In fact, once in my second trimester, I had to put an ultrasound picture on my refrigerator to remind myself there was a baby inside of me and to encourage me to embrace this pregnancy. 

Finally, at 20 weeks, I became more accepting of my pregnancy and even more terrified at the same time.  At first, all I could think about was how 20 weeks was another marker of stillbirth.  If the baby died at any point from now on, it would be another stillbirth.  I would have two stillborns. 

This realization knocked some sense into me.  It’s true – I could lose the baby at any time.  It has certainly happened before and I have more deceased children than I have alive.  I came to the realization that since my pregnancy could end at any time, the only choice I had was to live in gratitude for each day I had with the baby inside of me.  What if the baby did die and I didn’t even appreciate the time I had with it?

As my fellow loss mom’s know, it takes a lot of courage to love, knowing it might result in loss.  At least it did for me.  The various journeys I have been on since Quinn’s stillbirth came full-circle to lift me up for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy, mostly: living in the present moment and living with gratitude.  There has simply been no other way to live and these lessons have been my survival skills.  Mantras such as “I am grateful to be pregnant with this baby today” and “day by day” were the only way to make it through the day.  Little by little, the days accumulated to a week, and the baby made it to another week of gestation. 

When faced with the ignorant and innocent happiness of others, my mantras kept me cool.  When I was frustrated that others planned for the future and talked about life after the baby was here, my mantras re-centered me and brought me back to the moment, not taking anything for granted.

I would also whisper another mantra to my belly each day: “Alive and healthy baby.”  How foolish I was to only wish for a “healthy baby” with Quinn. 

Now that I am approaching my due date, my gratitude and daily presence is at its strongest, which is a great gift from this baby.  These have kept me sane and healthy during the last 37 weeks of excruciating uncertainty.  I still have not bought any clothes for the baby or set-up the co-sleeper.  There’s time, I tell my husband.  We’ll do it if we need to.  Hopefully we will. 

For now, I live in the present with extreme gratitude for the 255 days I’ve been lucky enough to have this baby. 

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