Welcome to the first day of the PAL Love Letters Series. First, I would like to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your child. There are no words that can help soothe this hurt or capture the pain that such a loss brings. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on being pregnant again (however, I know that hearing ‘congratulations’ doesn’t necessarily seem to be the right word to say). This time of being pregnant again after a loss is so confusing. One day you’re happy that you get the chance to carry life again and then the next you are sobbing in the car on the way to work as you think about how the child you are missing won’t be able to experience the joy of watching your family grow. Not to mention the fear that settles in deep inside of you when you see that positive pregnancy test, as anxious thoughts flood your mind of, “Can I really do this again?”
I know all of these feelings intimately, as I, too, am experiencing them right now, every second of every day as I’m currently 31 weeks pregnant with my second child after the stillbirth of my first. From the moment I was told my daughter, Nora, had “no heartbeat” fear has engulfed by soul and I have been scared. It has subsided for a while, but the moment I saw two blue lines on my pregnancy test back in July, fear came back in full force. I am an anxious person by nature, but never has my anxiety been so intense, never has my depression been so strongly knocking at my door, and never have I ever had to do something this emotionally and physically exhausting and difficult as being pregnant again after a previous pregnancy loss.
You see, I wanted help, I needed support, and I wanted to hear other women's stories of their true experience of traveling this rough road of pregnancy after loss. So I reached out to these women and asked those who have been down this rough road of grief and joy after loss to share, to write, and to send me and others words of love. And guess what? They ANSWERED my call!
Today is the start of sharing loss mama strength and love through the Love Letters to Moms Pregnant Again after a Loss blog series. We will be starting the series with the first letter from me to you, someone who is in your position now, but over the next 14 days we will hear from women at different stages of PAL and beyond. But that is not all. I NEED and WANT to hear your voices and words of support and you can share them with me by sending me and others your own PAL Love Letter. There are two ways of doing this: one is by linking your own personal letter posted on your blog to the link up below on each day a love letter is posted. If you don’t have a blo--no worries--in partnership with Heidi Faith from Still Birth Day, she have created a space on her site to hold your lovely PAL letters. Just click here to find the link.
My hope is you find comfort, truth, support, love, and hope in this series. I hope it’s a way for you to see that you are not alone in this journey. That it is hard and it’s okay to not be okay during this time. My hope is for you to find connection, understanding, and maybe a moment of peace. Now ladies, I am honored to share with you my letter of love to you on this Valentine’s Day. Remember, take all that you need and it’s okay if you need it all.
Dear Courageous Mama,
I am you. Right now I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with my baby after the loss of my first, and only child, at 40 weeks pregnant with my beautiful daughter. I know you, because I am you. I may not have all the same thoughts or the same experiences as you, but I can say I know. I know this is hard because it’s hard for me. It’s the most difficult thing I have ever done after giving birth to and burying my stillborn baby girl.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any advice, as I’m not on the other side. I am in the thick of it just like you and even if I was holding my current baby safely in my arms alive, I’m still not sure I would know the right words to say. What I can share with you are my true feelings and honestly I’m really scared right now. The truth is that every morning for the past five weeks I wake up terrified that my baby has died in the previous hours that I have slept, like my one before her did. My heart pounds and my mind races with morbid thoughts of once again delivering a dead child until all of the sudden a familiar poke tickles my hand as I am reassured my baby is still alive inside me with the somersault I feel her completing within.
You see, in that same moment, the one that was filled with terror before, is where gratitude also finds me and fills my soul with peace and an overwhelming sense of appreciation that I have been granted one more day, another chance, at bringing a living soul into this world. To say the least, it’s confusing; to wake to these kinds of emotions each day and hoping to relive them tomorrow because that would mean that my one wish is still true. That my baby will be born breathing and healthy and most importantly – ALIVE.
Maybe this letter doesn’t sound reassuring, but it is honest and to continue on this note of truth I would like to tell you that I do, oh how I do, try and try so hard to find joy in this pregnancy. Each day I battle back anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, and PTSD symptoms in an effort to choose joy over fear. Sometimes I win. But other days fear finds me again, usually in the moments when I begin to let my guard down and envision a life with a smiling, giggling, crying, breathing, living baby girl. Here is where the ugliness of fear rears its head, saying “Remember, this pregnancy is only a trick, just like your last, you are not worthy of such a little blessing.” But, I will not believe this liar known as fear and I fight back! I feel the fear, welcome him and all of his deceptions, and choose joy anyway!!! Even though it’s hard as hell to do, I yell back in fear’s face and say, “TODAY I CHOOSE JOY!”
In doing this I find a moment of peace that settles into my tired body and soul. Then I look down at my round stomach and stroke my belly all the while praying to a God, I don’t believe in, and a Universe, that I no longer trust, to give me the strength to make it through this journey and remember to just take each day as a gift. If I have learned anything over the past 14 months, it’s that I only get this day. This gift. This moment. I only get now and in that now I want it to be filled with happiness, not fear. I want my baby girl to know love, not dread. And each day that is what I will give her by choosing joy. It’s not easy, like I said, It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
But I’m doing it. Just like you. WE are doing it. Just by having the courage to try again we are choosing joy. Just by waking up each morning and facing what obstacles and anxieties pregnancy throws at us we are choosing joy. Just by being brave enough to be pregnant again we are choosing joy. Remember, we, both you and I are courageous warriors who have stared down the face of fear and said, “I don’t choose you. I choose joy instead!” and just by being here, wherever we are on this road of pregnancy after loss, just by saying yes to hopes of other chances and choosing joy, we have won.
Today, we have won.
Fellow PAL Mom & Courageous PAL Warrior
My name is Lindsey and I am the author of this blog Stillborn and Still Breathing along with the creator of the "Love Letters for Moms Pregnant Again After Loss" Blog Series. I am a 30 something “babylost” mom to my first and only child, my sweet daughter, Nora. I am a wife to my best-friend, lover, and husband, Nicholas. As I mentioned I am a proud dog mommy to my “little man” George, a carrot eating shih tzu. I am currently expecting my rainbow baby in March of 2014.
In my day job I am a Clinical Social Worker and Mental Health Therapist specializing in providing individual, group, and family therapy to adolescents struggling with past trauma and abuse, parents trying to understand their children’s mental illness, and adult women who fight with addiction.
Don't forget to link to your own PAL Love Letter below or share your Love Letter to a Mom Pregnant Again After Loss on our partner site Stillbirthday.com by clicking here.