As we embarked on our third pregnancy, our second since our son died at full term earlier this year, we were presented with a question. How much should we share and document this pregnancy publically? Writing openly has become a lifeline in my grief – something I had never done previously. Yet, was it the right thing to do for us at this stage in the journey?
One of the biggest things that we have learnt since being thrown abruptly into the world of stillbirth and baby loss, is that for some people, pregnancy is all they know of parenthood. For us, this is true – pregnancy followed by heartache and grief is our version of parenthood. The desire to learn a different form of parenting is what pushes us to keep on trying to achieve the golden ticket; the take home baby. However, it isn’t without its challenges, as those who have been there will know.
I think for me, being able to record this pregnancy is important. We are clouded by the constant awareness that we don’t know how long it will last, and what the outcome will be. That reality is pretty suffocating. It can, understandably, lead some to want to hibernate for the duration, quietly hoping for the best, constantly preparing for the worst. Sharing a pregnancy so openly places people in a very vulnerable situation – opening themselves up to the reality of having to share their heartbreak again, or having to deal with people’s awkwardness around the topic.
As much as it is tempting to hibernate sometimes and distance myself from the reality that I am pregnant, again, for the third time in one year – I find myself wanting to fight against it. I want to attempt to cling on to an element of normality, or at least our version of normality. I want to be able to express how we feel, and I want to have memories of this pregnancy – especially because of that cloud that hovers, constantly telling me that today, it could all end. Our blurry happiness for this pregnancy is some light relief from a year of navigating grief, and I want to celebrate that in the best way we can. For me, the only way I can do that really is to share and write, openly and honestly – to acknowledge this pregnancy is happening and to embrace it, all of it.
I was honoured to be asked to share our pregnancy after loss story here, within a community of parents who understand our pain. For me, reading other people’s experiences has allowed me to feel that bit more prepared and in control of the challenges that we may face throughout our grief for Leo, and during this aspect of our journey. I am grateful for other people’s honesty in the messy grief stained reality of a pregnancy after loss, and I hope I can contribute to this community of openness.
We have just hit the ‘magical’ twelve-week mark – but this brings us little comfort. I didn’t expect to ever reach this stage, and I am grateful to be here but there is no sigh of relief, and I know that wont come for a long while yet, if at all. I am proud that, so far, we seem to be doing okay. Although I’m not sure what we are measuring our standards of ‘okay’ against? We are already four scans in, two routine, one meltdown, and one just because Christmas would have too been stressful enough without it. I appreciate that sounds excessive. It is excessive. We are learning to manage the anxieties, and find ways to quieten the negative thoughts. However, I know that just being open and honest, and normalising it all, is far more helpful than fighting it. That is why I hope to continue writing and sharing our story here, and on my own blog, in a bid to normalise the reality of pregnancy after loss for us, for our friends and families, and for others approaching or going through the journey themselves.
I hope that there will be many, many more weeks documented here, and at some point in the summer we will be able to share our rainbow birth story. It seems somewhat impossible, but getting to our son’s first birthday felt impossible 11 months ago. Yet here we are, just a few weeks away, attempting to work out how you celebrate your son’s first birthday when he isn’t here to join in.