Coming up to Thanksgiving I was doing relatively well. For the past two weeks we have been in a sweet spot. Being past the anatomy scan, passing 24 weeks, and feeling consistent movement eased some of my worry about this baby and this pregnancy. I also feel like we can continue to avoid preparations for a couple more weeks. Registering and taking clear steps to prepare our lives for this baby feel like a commitment that we believe this baby will be coming home with us alive.
It feels like a commitment to hope, and that is a scary commitment to make.
On Thanksgiving, I made a quick trip to the store to get a newspaper so I could peruse the Black Friday shopping ads. On my way home I found myself crying. There was nothing specific that set this off, but the holidays can be so hard after you have experienced significant grief.
As I wrote last week, our last two Thanksgivings have been closely connected to our losses. Thanksgiving was within a week of our first loss two years ago, and last year it was about 6 weeks after our loss, the first time we had seen many of our relatives after our second loss. We shared pictures of our baby boy with some of our aunts and cousins. We filled in the details and explained what we knew at that point regarding our chances for having a healthy baby. The emotions that hit somewhat randomly on my way home from the store were tied to the emotions of these past Thanksgivings.
It is difficult to go through the holiday season without a baby in our arms for the third year in a row.
I am so glad that there is finally a baby in my belly this year, but that doesn’t make the grief disappear. We will attend so many gatherings between now and New Year’s Day, and it is hard to show up without the babies that we have hoped for. We will spend time with other children in our family and our friends’ kids. The relationships that we have with these children are rewarding, but watching them grow over these past two years can also be a reminder of the losses we have had and the amount of time that has passed since we first started this journey.
Holiday parties bring a pressure for joy and liveliness. They don’t always make room for the sorrow that grieving people feel.
We often hear about the first set of holidays after a significant loss being difficult for those who are grieving. But the second, third, and tenth can be difficult too. For many, the intensity of the difficulty may decrease with time and adjustment to the loss, but something about significant holidays and life events always serves as a reminder of the loved ones who are not with us.
So maybe it should not have been a surprise when a wave of grief seemed to come out of nowhere this year. I did what I needed to – talked with Eric, reached out to the amazingly supportive women in the Pregnancy After Loss Support group, and cried my tears. We went to our two Thanksgiving celebrations and spent quality time with family. We had a nice day.
Just as with many significant dates, it was impossible not to find myself hoping that next year we would get to be the people sharing pictures of our baby in their “1st Thanksgiving” outfit.
Black Friday shopping is something I started doing with one of my aunts many, many years ago. At this point, I typically just go to a couple of stores. I enjoy the ambiance of Black Friday. It is a fun way to start to get in the holiday spirit, try to find a few good deals, and begin shopping for Christmas gifts. So, Friday morning, I got up early intending to visit a few stores before returning home to help Eric prep our house for my friends who would be coming over later. Instead doing this, I woke Eric up to tell him I needed to call the doctor because I had had some bleeding.
The doctor who was on-call was the first doctor we had interacted with in the Maternal Fetal Medicine practice that now provides all of my prenatal care. She was the doctor who was with us as we first entered this world of loss, but we had not seen her since. When I talked to her on Friday morning, she recommended that I come in to Labor and Delivery to get checked out.
Instead of heading out with the other crazy early morning shoppers, Eric and I drove to the hospital, each of us envisioning all of the worst case scenarios that we might be in for.
It doesn’t take much to remind us that all of our hope and dreams for this pregnancy can be shattered in seconds. I began to imagine having to deliver this baby that day and being uncertain what that would mean for the baby’s health. I found myself wondering what it would actually be like to lose this baby too. That train of thought was too much for me to handle, and I mostly ended up wishing and pleading that we were not going to lose our third baby.
We spent a couple of hours at the hospital. The baby’s heart rate was consistently good. I was not having any contractions, and I was not dilated. All of these were really good signs. As my discharge paperwork says, we were treated with “reassurance that everything is okay!”. Eric and I were able to stop at one store I wanted to go to and return home with 2 hours to get things ready to host my friends.
I wish we would not have had this scare, but I am so glad that we got reassurance instead of bad news. I am so grateful for skilled and supportive medical providers who treat all aspects of this pregnancy, physical and emotional, and take our history into account in all of their interactions with us. I hope that we don’t have any other scares or bumps in the road this pregnancy. I would love for things to be uneventful and for us to return to Labor and Delivery in 14 weeks, coming home with a healthy baby a few days later.