Facing Fear… Again
Guest post by Melissa
We lost our son Aiden in 2010 at 19 days old, after a normal pregnancy and delivery. Fourteen months later, we welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. My pregnancy with Emily was terrifying and stressful, something that I was not looking forward to facing again anytime soon. But after much discussion, my husband and I have decided to try for another child.
Some of the most difficult parts of my grief journey have been the unexpected moments of grief that sneak up when I least expect them. The thought of trying for a second rainbow baby was one of those moments. The intense fear it brought up completely caught me off guard. I expected to be nervous, scared and anxious about the idea of another pregnancy, but I thought having one healthy, thriving child would ease some of the anxiety. I imagined my fear with a future pregnancy would be a little bit less than it was with Emily’s pregnancy, but I actually feel more fearful this time around.
A small piece of the fear is normal. I’m worried about how to balance sleepless nights with a busy toddler, how to divide my time between two children, how I will possibly keep up with the housework, etc. But the biggest reason for my fear about having another baby is because I feel like I have so much to lose. It was terrifying to have another baby after losing Aiden, but in some ways I felt like I had nothing left to lose. I was in the darkest place I have ever been in, I had just lost my child, my world had been turned upside down and I didn’t know where to go from there. I felt like the glimmer of hope for another child was the only thing I had to hold on to. Now, I have a healthy, beautiful daughter. I have discovered the wonderfully, overwhelming love I have for her that continues to grow each day. When Aiden was born, I didn’t know what it felt like to be a mother. He showed me how powerful and amazing your love for your child is. But my daughter has shown me how much that love grows and intensifies on a daily basis. Being a mother and watching your child become a little person right before your eyes is the most awesome experience. Having Emily has made me painfully aware of everything that we missed out on with Aiden. I could understand through other people’s experiences what I was missing, but you never fully understand how powerfully you will love your children more and more every day until you experience it for yourself. I feel like I have so much more to lose now if we lost another child because I know firsthand everything that I would be missing out on with that child.
Before losing Aiden, I lived in a blissfully ignorant bubble where I never believed that my child could actually die. That was something that happened in faraway places, always to someone else, never to me. Now that my eyes have been forced open to the reality of baby loss, I can never go back to blindly believing that everything will be ok. Now I not only fear to my very soul the thought of losing another child, but I also fear something happening to me during pregnancy or childbirth and not being here for my daughter and future child. What if I died during childbirth and never get to see my daughter grow into the woman she will be? The thought terrifies me because I can’t imagine the thought of not getting to be here for my daughter and witnessing her life.
My husband’s philosophy is that life is a gamble and you just take the leap. Together we will live by these words. If we are lucky enough to get pregnant again, I want to throw myself into it with reckless abandon. Acknowledge and accept the fear I feel, but not let it define the pregnancy. Savour the experience of a child growing inside me, each movement, kick and sensation. Know that it could all be taken away from me, but relish being a part of the miracle of pregnancy. I know that I will never have the same kind of pregnancy I had before losing Aiden. Losing him has forever changed who I am as a person and has forever changed my associations with pregnancy and child birth. But I am choosing to not let fear define any future pregnancies. I want to choose life, love and hope over fear.