When I got pregnant after my daughter’s stillbirth, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy nine months. Between worrying about people’s reactions (because contrary to popular opinion, this pregnancy will not ‘fix’ me) and constant concern over whether the baby is moving enough, it has been a very draining time. There are still a few weeks to go.
People can tell me it is going to be okay and try to be reassuring but it just does not help. They say this Christmas without Ariella will be hard, but next Christmas it will be different. But how do they know? My mind races and over thinks absolutely everything, just as it has from the moment that second line showed on the pregnancy test.
Because here’s the thing: in my experience, I have babies and they die. One pregnancy, one loss.
Ariella was my first pregnancy, and there were no signs at all to warn us of her death. There were no pregnancy complications, no growth issues and no reduced movement. One night everything was fine and the next morning nothing would ever be fine again. How do you deal with that in a subsequent pregnancy?
For me it has meant not wanting to get anything ready. I don’t want to put the car seat in the car because I don’t want to drive home from the hospital with it empty again. I’m not sure I could stand that heartache. I don’t want to set up the change table only to have to pack it all away again when there is no baby to change. I don’t want to change the sheets in the cot because I just cannot imagine what it would be like to have a baby actually in the cot using those sheets.
Because after all, experience tells me that when I have a baby, she dies. One baby was born, one baby was buried.
I need the statistics to change; I need just one moment of peace. I need to prove that my body can be trusted and prove my experience wrong. I need to know when I have a baby, it won’t end in death. But I don’t know how to do that. I have made it through 36 weeks of pregnancy, admittedly with some meltdowns along the way. I’ve been as strong as I can be for 36 weeks but my strength is starting to crumble. There is not that long left to go but at the same time, there is eternity to go. Until I have a living, breathing, wriggling baby in my arms I will not be at peace; I cannot be at peace.I know that other women have higher numbers and that one loss isn’t a large sample size. But this is not simply statistics, this is my life. As I type this, I can feel my second baby squirming around and that brings a certain sense of peace to my ever worried mind. But then the questions start – are they moving enough? Are the movements as strong or as regular as previously? If the kicks are in a different spot, it means the baby has changed positions. Has the cord gotten tangled at all? Is the baby still getting all that is needed? I don’t know how to calm my thoughts; they simply race around and I am left grasping at the air like a child trying to catch dandelion seeds once the wind has already swept them away.
Because all I know is stillbirth; that when I have a baby, the baby dies. One baby who lived inside me, one baby who died inside me.
There is less than a month until this baby’s due date and it is turning out to be perhaps the longest month of this pregnancy so far. Milestones are looming: reaching “full term” status, the time of the pregnancy when Ariella died and finally, the due date. There is not a lot that I know for certain and I do not know how to keep being strong. I am simply doing the only thing I can do. I am waiting and I am praying, hoping that within the next month my experience will change. Perhaps next month the statistics will be equal: one living baby and one buried baby.
And maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of this tunnel…
Larissa is wife to Marcus and mama to four, including one precious girl lost to stillbirth. She writes about her daughter and life after loss at Deeper Still.