“A new baby is like the beginning of all things hope, wonder, a dream of possibilities.”
Picture taken over the weekend at a baby shower of a sweet friend.
Pregnancy after loss. It changes things. I’ve been wanting to write some of these thoughts down for awhile now, but have been trying to wait until I had an eloquent or even understandable way of expressing what my heart and head has felt the last couple of months. The clarity has not come, so bear with me while I stumble through my own understanding of all of this. After we lost the baby, I lost trust in my body. My body should have given me the signs…why was my belly still growing if the heartbeat had stopped 3 weeks earlier? Why hadn’t I miscarried? Why did I lose the baby in the first place? Rylie was an unplanned c-section (birth story here), and in my head I became convinced that something had been damaged inside and that the baby never had a chance.
I had decided that if we were going to try again, I wanted to wait until after the baby’s due date (April 6). I felt it was important to honor that pregnancy time, to honor that baby. One thing I’ve learned from all of this, among many life lessons (and I hate referring to the loss as a lesson), is that you cannot plan things that are inevitably out of your control. You can do all the “right” things, have all the right intentions, and things can still get all twisted. We weren’t exactly being careful, and there was a deep part of me that (despite what I was telling everyone) wanted to be pregnant again…like right away. It’s hard to explain, and not something words can really comprehend, but when this baby in my belly right now was conceived, I knew it. I took a pregnancy test, negative, but I still knew. We took our first trip away from Rylie as a couple to Las Vegas, and I tossed a pregnancy test in my luggage bag. When the dreaded 3 minute wait was up, and we finally knew, I laid in bed for quite awhile, allowing the news to overtake me.
Instantly, I mean…instantly, anxiety and guilt found their home. A little excitement and joy decided to show up to the party, but they stayed pretty quiet while anxiety and guilt took over the show. If it happened once, it could happen again, and I didn’t trust my body to show me the signs that would clue me in. I felt guilt. So. Much. Guilt. How could I even begin to love this baby, when I hadn’t even said goodbye yet to the last? How could I even be thinking that I couldn’t love this baby yet? What was I thinking having that champagne last night?
Do we tell people? Everyone knew about the last baby, and I was grateful for that, I felt less alone in the loss. But, do I put it out there again? That first appointment was horrifying. I had not been back in the doctor’s office since we had the visit with no heartbeat. My whole body felt cold and stiff. But there it was, a heartbeat, fast and strong. This helped a little, but we had heard the last baby’s heartbeat too…and it sounded just the same. By the time the 12 week appointment came, I had convinced myself on several occasions that the baby was gone. It was always late at night, laying in bed, and I would whisper my crazy thoughts aloud to my husband. Anxiety. The type of anxiety that leaves you feeling like you just ran a marathon, but something is chasing you, so even though you are exhausted and your heart is racing and you really just want to lay down, you have to keep running. You can’t stop for a second or it will catch you and swallow you whole. I know this sounds melo-dramatic, but like I said…I’m just trying to put the fog of feelings and emotions into words, and words never seem to get it exactly right.
12 weeks. It took them maybe 10 seconds to find the heartbeat, and in those ten seconds I had already decided that we were done trying. But then it came, loud and strong. Life.
Honestly, it was only then that I really let the love creep in. I hope that you (baby growing in my belly) do not read this one day and believe for a second that all of this makes me love you less. Oh no, this experience makes my love for you go beyond what is reasonable. So much had to happen for it to be you. The sound of your heart…and one day the smell of your skin will be intoxicating…something that will fill me up to the brim, a different kind of love.
And Rylie, one day, I need you to ask me about how you were through all of this. There are things that you did, things that you said, experiences we shared, that I need to tell you. You, and I believe most young kids your age, are closer to spiritual dimensions than we (as adults) are. These are things that aren’t for the world to know about, but that I want to share with you one day. You, have been my shining light through this.
I still know that a million billion things can go wrong (or at least that is what it feels like). Making human life is not for the faint of heart, seriously. Somehow though, we do it, and then do it again, and then watch our children and grandchildren do it. I struggle with my faith and spirituality, a lot. I think sometimes God (or whoever it is that is responsible for all consuming love and miracles) has to slap me in the face with experiences to make me believe and see. I’m not talking about the loss, I’m talking about the beauty I’ve seen through this.
Ok, I think that’s all I can say for now. Today we have our big ultrasound, and I am hopeful and terrified. Whatever happens though, I want these words to be here, to read someday, to read to Rylie someday. To maybe make someone, even one person, feel less crazy or alone.
Anxious. Excited. Guilty. Hopeful.