“Are you getting excited?”
I’m at the point in my pregnancy, 38 weeks, where I get this question (or versions of it) multiple times each day, mostly from those who don’t know my story, as well as from some who do.
After I lost my daughter, Blake, at nearly 11 months old to a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) last August, future children were the last thing on my mind. In October, when I started to feel sick, I was sure it was from all that grief brings; lack of sleep, forgetting to eat, sadness, physical pain, but it wasn’t. Baby number 3 surprised us and frankly we were terrified.
When people ask me this question, I simply want to say: “No, not really”. Obviously, I can’t do that. I also can’t explain to them the sea of emotions that drown me on a daily basis. The two “waves” that stand out are fear and anxiety. What if something happens before birth? Or during birth, or after the birth? What if this baby dies, too?
When I don’t feel excited and others expect me to, my immediate feeling is guilt.
What kind of monster am I? How could I not be excited to meet my child? I feel more judgment, more like an alien and more loneliness.
I want to feel excitement and anticipation, I really do. I already know how amazing it is to meet my babies. I know the utter joy of bringing a child into this world, loving them and caring for them. The feelings that come when you see just how much your husband loves that little person you made together.
But I know the other side, too. I know what it’s like to hear the words no parent ever wants to hear: “This disease is terminal. There is no treatment. There is no cure.” I know what it is like to look at my daughter after life has left her body. I know that unimaginable pain that no parent ever wants to know, let alone talk about. I know what it feels like to have my heart ripped out.
It’s taken me a while (let’s be real; sometimes I still forget), but now, I move past my immediate reaction and on to giving myself grace. Not feeling the way I’m expected to doesn’t mean that I don’t love this baby just as much as my two others.
It doesn’t mean that I am not extremely grateful for another little human. It doesn’t mean this child isn’t so wanted.
It does mean that I am in a tough spot, though; a place I never imagined I would be. It means that I’ve been through a lot. It means that I’ve lost that naïve, innocent feeling, where “everything will be fine.” I live in a new world where things can go wrong. Very, very wrong: and they do.
I don’t have to be excited to be hopeful.
Along with being very scared, I AM hopeful.
I will carry that hope through the rest of my pregnancy, the birth and having two living children again.
I will give myself a break and understand that my world looks different now and there is a reason for that.