Pregnancy After Loss: A Place of In-Between
As I write this I am twenty weeks into my pregnancy after loss. My first pregnancy ended at eleven weeks. I just found out I am having a baby girl and I can feel her kicking and tumbling around often. With each passing day I have new hopes and fears. This pregnancy seems too good to be true. After the darkness of miscarriage, it is hard to believe that life can be, and is, happy again.
Navigating these past five months has been difficult. While I have had quite an easy pregnancy physically, it has taken all of my strength to get through the emotions of my every day.
I am in a strange in-between place. I spent almost twelve full months in the land of loss. My place of refuge was in miscarriage support groups. My comfort zone was grief. Now that I am pregnant I do not feel like I fit in those places in quite the same way. Sure, I am still a miscarriage survivor. And I most definitely still grieve. But right now I am also in a place of hope. It does not feel like something I can share in those places at this time.
I also do not quite fit into the parenting after loss groups.
I am in them because I will hopefully be able to post there come December. The land of rainbow parenting is close, but not mine just yet. While my doctor thinks I am in a safe zone and the people around me believe we will not lose this precious baby girl, I am all too aware that nothing will feel safe until she is in my arms, if ever again.
I do connect with other women on this same journey. It helps especially to know some women due around the same time as I am, but we are still all experiencing some emotions unique to ourselves and our experiences. Every woman’s loss story is different. Some women have other living children, and some, like myself, do not have other living children. We are all trying to navigate the day to day of pregnancy after loss together, but sometimes it still feels isolating to me.
Aside from the social in-between of pregnancy after loss, is the emotional in between. My days drag on endlessly. I only look forward to Wednesdays when I enter a new week of pregnancy or appointment days when I get to see my doctor. Recently I had a few days in a row where I felt truly happy and unafraid. It was a glimpse into what pregnancy can feel like and I loved it. I felt complete after finding out we were expecting a daughter and then immediately reminded myself that I will never be complete because my first baby is not here with me. I go through varying degrees of guilt, joy, sadness, fear, and grief. It’s a lot to handle and I often feel even more guilt for feeling all of this because I don’t want my little rainbow to be feeling these waves of emotion.
In a way, miscarriage was easier. Grief was something I could give in to and lock myself away with. I did not have to be strong in any way other than getting out of bed in the morning. And some days I did not even do that. But carrying my sweet rainbow daughter has required strength and resilience in a way I’ve never known. Now I have to get out of bed every day. I have to feed myself good food and drink enough water. I try my best to send nothing but love to her and bond in what ways I can. Every day from now on will be this way.
The day that I found out that I was pregnant again, thirteen days before the anniversary of my loss, was the day my life split officially into parallel universes.
In one universe I have my first daughter with me. She is excited about becoming a big sister. Life is whole. In this universe, I am going through this pregnancy without an older child. Every day for the rest of this baby’s life I will be missing her older sister. Every day for the rest of her life I have to try to be strong, while living a fragmented life.
Loss is messy. Motherhood is life altering. Pregnancy after loss is intense. The in between-ness of it only makes it more so. I am just taking it one day at a time because now I know how fleeting a single day can be. And so I navigate this pregnancy with gratitude and as much strength as I can muster for the day. Some days are harder than others but I remind myself that any day getting through this pregnancy is a good day so I forgive myself and carry on into the unknown.