When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, we were over the moon. My husband couldn’t keep his darn mouth shut he was so excited, so we spilled the beans pretty quickly. Family, friends, and coworkers were thrilled.
For the first 12 weeks, I felt like I was tip-toeing through life, trying to sneak under the radar of the miscarriage gods. Finally, we made it out of the terrifying first trimester. Phew. We were safe.
Until we weren’t. 4 ½ months in, I had a late miscarriage. We left our baby behind at the hospital, along with our hopes and dreams for him, and a piece of our hearts.
My grief surprised me. It hit, and it hit hard. I felt so empty, so purposeless all of the sudden. I had no idea how strong a mother’s love truly was for her children until I became one, until my sweet baby boy was gone.
After months of counseling and support groups, journaling ad nauseam, having a memorial service for our sweet James, and reading books upon books on surviving miscarriage, I finally felt like I was ready to get pregnant again. I would always want and miss my first baby, but my husband and I were both ready to grow our family. I knew that being a martyr to sadness and intentionally becoming childless was no way to honor James. Not to mention that dreaded biological clock was still ticking away.
Five months after our loss, it happened. I was (mostly) excited when I saw the positive. And as weird as it sounds, I felt a tremendous sense of peace that James was excited to have a little brother or sister.
But when, a couple of days later, I decided to re-download the popular pregnancy app I’d used to track my pregnancy with James (and had promptly deleted after our loss), my joy quickly deflated. “Only 16 Days to Go! Baby is Almost Here!”
Just like that, I was painfully reminded of the baby who in fact was NOT here. And never would be. It made me nauseous. It made me sad. It made me doubt.
What was I thinking getting pregnant again before his due date had even passed? How could I have been so stupid? How heartless was I to think I deserved to be happy right now when my baby was still dead? My poor James must think we’re trying to replace him. I’m a stupid, awful, heartless mother. I don’t deserve a baby, ever.
What if I can’t love this baby enough?
What if I love it too much and the same thing happens again?
What if I constantly compare this baby to James?
What if it’s also a boy, will I treat him as if he’s the baby boy that I should have been giving birth to in 16 short days? Please, God, don’t let it be a boy.
Panic set in.
I remember how the last pregnancy ended, and how it could happen again. And I knew everybody around me would be thinking the same thing.
It still hurts to see diaper commercials and pregnant women in the store. How am I going to handle it when I have to shop for diapers and I AM that pregnant woman? Thank goodness my husband knows his way around Amazon Prime, because I still can’t make eye contact with the baby section at Target.
And what will I wear? None of my old maternity clothes will do. Those belonged to my pregnancy with James. We’ll also have to schedule a trip to the thrift store to get rid of his crib, changing table, and car seat. Those should have been for a different baby.
I’m both excited for and dreading every milestone. Yet every milestone will also be a reminder of what we didn’t get with James.
We didn’t get to feel him kick, we didn’t get to finish his nursery, and we didn’t get to bring him home. Every joyful moment with his little brother or sister will be a stark reminder of what all we lost.
I’m bitter that I will never get to enjoy a “normal” pregnancy full of hope and bliss. Instead, it will be full of worry, and the heavy weight of grief for a baby I so desperately loved but never got to meet.
Any time I catch myself smiling at the thought of the little bean growing inside me, I quickly scold myself for being happy, for trying to replace James, for not being appropriately terrified of all the bad ways this might end.
I fully realize that 90% of these thoughts are irrational, yet at the same time, they all completely make sense to me. Once you’ve suffered a loss, it’s impossible not to view your life through that lens.