It’s funny to think that I would describe anything about my life right now as having balance. Juggling a pregnancy that is more physically demanding than any prior, living life with an active two-and-a-half year old, running a startup – my life is not the kind of balanced it used to be when weekends were for long bike rides, brunch and yoga classes.
But the difference right now, where I am finding my balance, is in my grief and anxiety, and how it is manifesting in this pregnancy.
If you compare my first pregnancy, the one that ended so abruptly at 35 weeks and turned my world upside down, to my second pregnancy – on the surface, they didn’t seem that different. Just a mom, without any other living children, expecting a baby. I lived in the same house, I planned the same nursery, I saw the same doctor. But inside, inside I was raw, the way we are all so very raw in those first few months as grieving mothers. My anxiety was through the roof, my therapy sessions were regular. I wanted every test, every bit of extra monitoring they would give me. Nothing about that time was balanced.
This time is different. It’s been three and a half years since Layla died. I know I can bring a healthy baby into the world. I have a little person that is demanding of my brain space when my mind wanders too far into the vast universe of whatifs. And yet – it will never be like it was before, we know this.
I reflected on the difference as I sat on the MFM’s table last week, warm goop streaming onto my belly, ultrasound tech readying the wand for my 12-week screening. My anxiety wasn’t as high as it was with my last pregnancy, but there was still something there. A feeling of resignation. An acceptance. A knowledge that if my baby wasn’t alive, I would survive. Is that what it was? Is that really what this long loss journey has brought me, a knowledge that I am a survivor? It was a peaceful feeling, if you can call it that.
I’m feeling that balance, that peaceful resignation, that practicality balanced with emotion, in my day to day. I am 13 weeks pregnant today – once upon a time, that would have been cause for celebration. “We’re safe!” we would have declared (how naively blissful we were). We would have shared the news with anyone left that hadn’t heard. And yet, I’m still (still) not there. There’s the emotional side. The practical side has been busy sorting baby things – that’s right, opening boxes that were packed in the move we’ve made since our rainbow was born, pulling out maternity clothes (ok, these are legit needed soon and not just wishful thinking), and assessing what else we’ve got or might need.
Not telling people we’re pregnant out of an acceptance that this baby might not come home. Sorting baby items months and months (and months) in advance because it just feels good to put my hands on them again.
I suppose, if that’s balance, I’ll take it.
If you’ve experienced a second PAL, what did you find different about the next time, if anything?