“At least you can have another one”.... one comment that I heard repeatedly. It never got easier to hear, hurt any less, the tears never stopped pricking my eyes with its repetitive nature. My baby, my son was not someone who could be simply “replaced” with the birth of another. He was the person who made me a mother, the first.... and that title would forever be his.
When I fell pregnant with my rainbow baby (my first baby after my loss) it didn’t come with the usual excitement that followed the announcement of a birth. It came with fear and tribulation. I had already joined a club that would forever tarnish the joy of pregnancy. One I never wanted to be part of and one that I diffidently could not leave. A world that defined my very existence and completely altered the course of my future. I now knew of this world. A world with numbers and statistics. A world where being pregnant did not mean happily ever after.
The day of my loss and, if I am honest, for a long period after it, I never imagined having another child. When I fell pregnant with my second child who we would later find out was a girl, I was numb, still in a heighten level of grief and did not realise that getting pregnant would just increase my anxiety. It was at this time I found myself surrounded by the people I love and the people that loved me, but I could not help but think they were just waiting for the ticking time bomb to go off. That if they wrapped me in bubble wrap, maybe I would get through this even if the same happened again. They didnt know, that if this baby left too, I would completely crumble. I would be an even smaller shadow of myself. I was at breaking point and this was my last chance to prove to myself that I was worthy of having a child by my side. That I was worthy of the world seeing me as the mother that I already was.
Your loved ones want to help make the process as easy as possible. They just need a little bit of guidance.
The reality was that I was now pregnant and I didn’t know how I felt about it. I was excited at the prospect of being able to hold a baby in my arms, to smell them, hear them cry and even battle those future two-year-old tantrums. I however also felt great levels of fear, and anxiety knowing all the things that could and had gone wrong. I had to come to terms with the fact that this pregnancy would be different. I would have to provide myself with coping mechanisms. I needed to allow myself the space to have both moments of excitement and also fear and hesitation. It was hard for me to accept that this pregnancy, just like the grief I had for the passing of my son, would be a roller coaster.
My biggest lesson and the one I wish I knew from day one were that the people around me want to help make the process as easy as possible, they just need a little bit of guidance. Let’s be honest unless you have joined the “club” you don’t really know what people need and even then, not everyone is the same. Learning to be selfish in my grief and my subsequent pregnancy was my only saving grace. If I needed a day to grieve, I asked for it. If I didn’t want to be alone for an appointment I asked for company. If I was worried because I couldn’t feel baby kicked, I mentioned it. The key was I was now communicating and because of this I was surviving.
I was now communicating and because of this I was surviving.
This had to continue into those days, weeks and months after my daughter was born. Yes, I loved her with all my heart, but she did not replace my son and because of this I still had moments of great difficulty. Moments where I had to lean on others. Becoming a mother again, if I am completely honest was a challenge. Maybe one I was not completely ready for. Seven years later and I have no regrets. No, I couldn’t do it by myself. I needed support and I am grateful that I have a very small village of people around me that are still there to this day. That doesn’t make me any less of a mother. It just makes me a mother that was strong enough to know she couldn’t grieve her son and mother her daughter without support.
1 in 4, 1 in 4 is all I hear now. 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage, still birth or infant death. I am 1 of those women. I am part of the statistic, but I will not let it define me.