Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hello Friend...Whatever Feelings You Are Having Are OK

Hello Friend,

Welcome to the world of Pregnancy After Loss.  Not exactly an easy place to be.  Please know that whatever feelings you are having are ok and normal.  There is no correct way to be!

I didn’t realize how terrifying my son’s (my third) pregnancy was until I tried to sit down to write this letter.  I avoided sitting down to write over and over again – I suppose I continued to attempt to put those memories behind me.  My son, Tucker, is here now, 2 ½, and challenging me at every turn.  Sometimes though, in rare moments of quietude, he sits on my lap and our souls connect.  Our breaths align, and I am thrown right back to my time with him in the womb.  A time that was, at the same time, a profound spiritual awakening and a test of faith for every fiber of my being.

I lost my first baby on November 7, 2009.  My second was removed from my womb via D and C in March of 2010. I got pregnant for the third time later on that summer, on my 30th birthday.  I knew right away I had life within me – I could feel a pulsing vibration that lasted the duration of my pregnancy.  That tangible life energy might have been the very thing that got me through his pregnancy.   Something deep within me was telling me this one would be ok – I would meet this baby.  But still my mind couldn’t stop.  The what ifs were uncontrollable.  I had incredibly powerful spiritual experiences while pregnant with Tucker - moments of insight that changed my life. Yet it was never the blissful pregnancy I had dreamed of. Every day I imagined the worst. I hoped for the best, but knew, from experience, that life could change into death on a dime and that try as I might, I wasn’t really in control.  I wanted to physically hurt people who smiled ignorantly and told me I shouldn’t worry – it would all be fine –and worrying wasn’t good for the baby.  Who were they to know that?  Had they said good bye to their first two babies before holding them in their arms?  I doubt it.  No one who has done that can confidently say “Don’t worry, it will all be ok.”

Tucker’s pregnancy left me shaken at my very core.  I held onto practices that were the backbone of my sanity, both pre-pregnancy as a recovering over-achieving perfectionist, and during my time of grief.  I practiced yoga.  I meditated.  I recited mantra.  I got massages, acupuncture, took baths, tried to be as gentle with myself as possible. 
As I write this I realize that the biggest challenge in every aspect of my life spilled over into my pregnancy.  I was scared, deep down in my soul that I wasn’t good enough to be blessed with this baby.  Every day, no matter what else was going on, I wondered that question.  Would I be good enough to hold this baby?

A year into Tucker’s life we weren’t sure we wanted to have another baby.  I simply wasn’t sure I could handle the thought of losing another.  In August he was 15 months old and taking a nap while I sat outside in the sun.  Out of nowhere a voice in my head or my body or something said I’m here. I knew it was my baby.  My response was We aren’t ready yet.  Three days later I found myself with a positive pregnancy test in hand, and a couple days after that I laid on an Ultrasound Table to discover I was 16 weeks pregnant with my daughter.  I firmly feel I purposely was not intended to know about her presence until I was past my first trimester.  (by the way – I can explain how I missed any signs – there weren’t any!) My pregnancy with my daughter was the blissful pregnancy I had yearned for when the whole journey began.  It was beautiful.  Her birth was outrageously incredible.  My time with my daughter has been healing. She has been a true gift.  She is my Grace.

I spent Tucker’s pregnancy in prayer, hoping for the best.  I spent Grace’s in meditation, vibrating in gratitude. I think for any of us experiencing pregnancy after loss might find ourselves somewhere in between these extremes, on any given day.  I can say, without a doubt, that choosing to try to bring life through to this world again has been the most courageous thing I’ve ever done.  I couldn’t have done it without my yoga practice, without practicing to quiet my mind and to stay in the here and now.  My advice for handling Pregnancy After Loss is the same as my advice for working with Grief. 
Be gentle.  Take it Slowly. Be kind to yourself.  Do things that you Love.  Meditate.  Get in Nature.  Add Beauty to your every day.  And Love Love Love yourself.  You are a courageous warrior of Love.  Be proud.

All my love and best wishes,

Catherine Keating lives in Seattle, WA with her husband Joe, her son Tucker and daughter Grace, and two wild and crazy dogs.  She is an early childhood and special education teacher by training, as well as a certified Yoga Instructor.  She began writing stories at a young age, always knowing she had a story to tell the world.  When she lost her first two babies, she discovered what that story was to be – a story of finding joy again after loss.  Catherine’s first book, There Was Supposed To Be a Baby: A Guide to Healing After Pregnancy Loss was published last year.  You can get in touch with Catherine at her website: There Was Supposed to Be a Baby or on her Facebook page.

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