🌈 Pregnancy After Loss
Today is Pregnancy after Loss Awareness Day. I have been hesitant to post about my pregnancy here because I know that hearing about other people's pregnancies after losing Aveline is so painful. However, this is part of my journey in grief and healing.
(TW: Baby announcement photos at the end.)
A little over a year after losing our precious Aveline, on August 25, 2022 I found out I was pregnant again with a little boy. There were so many emotions. At first, I was in shock and felt numb, and there was a lot of crying. This was not the reaction I was expecting. I had been wanting a baby, crying lots of tears, and hoping every month that I would be pregnant even though we agreed to wait. Reflecting on it, I was not ready for another baby that first year. We decided to wait 6 months to a year to try until we had healed a little more, but I still desperately wanted one.
During the first two weeks, I was pretty excited. I started looking at baby stuff right away. I started designing a pregnancy journal because I couldn't find any online with everything I wanted.
However, after those first couple of weeks, things changed. I became very depressed. There was so much fear. I was no longer excited. I felt like it was a matter of time before this baby would die too. I didn't journal and I stopped looking at baby stuff. Sometimes I tried ignoring that I was pregnant (not so easy with morning sickness).
The symptoms triggered so many memories from the previous pregnancy and brought back a lot of pain that I thought I had moved passed. Feeling those first kicks made me both excited because he was doing okay and filled with pain because of remembering Avelines kicks.
With that depression, I stopped taking care of myself. With Aveline, I ate all the right things, went on daily walks, sang to her all the time, and had this joy. That joy was gone. This time I wasn't eating super healthy, I did not exercise, and I could not sing. What was the point? I did everything right before, and she still died.
I was scared to get attached to this baby. That made me angry. You are robbed of so much of that joy when you have a baby after loss. I felt horrible complaining about being pregnant because this is what I wanted so badly. They don't tell you how hard it is, though. I started resenting my pregnancy. Why am I going through all of this again if I just have to lose this one too? All of this made me feel guilty.
I dreaded every drs appointment and still do. The 12 weeks of waiting to see if this baby had the same fatal birth defect felt like it dragged on forever. Thankfully, this baby is strong and healthy, but I still hold my breath. Even after learning that this baby did NOT have anencephaly, I still couldn't relax. I was so relieved and grateful, but I thought he would die for another reason.
We told family and a few close friends right away, but I dreaded making it public. Even after we were "in the clear" ( Not that I believe there is such a thing anymore.) I feared we would lose the baby as soon as we told people.
We waited until after 21 weeks (which was how far we made it with Aveline) to make it public. It was so good to have everyone's support and prayers, but making that post was hard. I was scared that we might immediately lose this one by making it public too, which is silly, but how I felt.
I felt guilty because everyone seemed more excited about my baby than I was. I have heard so many times from very well-meaning Drs, family, and friends that it was going to be okay and that it wouldn't happen twice. That didn't help at all because I know so many who have had it happen twice. I felt like a "bad mom" because I had a hard time focusing on this baby because I was missing Aveline so much.
My faith has been tested beyond words. I don't know if I can say trying to figure out my relationship with God was harder than when we lost Aveline, it was just a different type of hard.
I knew that if we lost this baby that, God would carry us, just as he did before. I knew we would be "okay" (eventually) and God would help us through it.
However, what I couldn't do was ask for my baby's safety. I couldn't let go and trust that my baby would be healthy. God did not cause for us to lose Aveline, but I still lacked faith and trust. I stopped praying, or at least anything deep. Just nice light prayers that I couldn't be disappointed by.
It took until the end of the 2nd trimester for me to start connecting with and getting excited about my baby even then, it was hard. His kicking keeps me awake at night, but when he stops, I'm terrified something is wrong.
It is so hard when strangers approach you multiple times a week or day and ask if this is your first baby. Sometimes I say "yes" and feel horrible for not acknowledging Aveline, but I do not have the emotional energy to relive it at the time. Other times I say "no" and sometimes have had really good conversations, but most times, they are awkward, and I feel bad for making those people uncomfortable.
Now That I am in my 3rd trimester (32 weeks), I have been doing much better.
It is still hard, but I am finally connecting with my son. I started getting excited, which also brought its own guilt at first. I felt guilty for being excited, thinking it meant I was forgetting or betraying my daughter. Thankfully, most of that guilt has faded.
I am happy again. I talk to this baby now and finally started singing to him. One of the hardest things is I have begun to pray for him and his safety and health. While I still dont have answers of why things happened the way they did my relationship with God has been so much stronger than it ever has been.
I still worry all the time and will until I have him in my arms, and honestly probably will worry about him for the rest of my life. While I am no longer naive about pregnancy and loss, I am grateful that some of that joy is back. We will hopefully meet our little rainbow the first week of May. We are so thankful for this little miracle and are trying to take in all the good moments. We would appreciate your prayers for the months to come.
For those of you also going through this, some of the main things I would say are:
• Make sure you have some key people supporting you, people you can confide in.
• Maybe get a counselor.
• Don't rush connecting with your baby. It will happen. Even if it is not until you have that baby safely in your arms, that's okay.
• Having all of these conflicting feelings does not make you a bad mother.
• It's okay to miss your angel baby.
• It's okay to get excited about your rainbow. It doesn't mean you love your angel baby any less.
Mostly, take it one day at a time.