I apologize in advance if this post is somewhat disjointed. I have been dealing with serious pregnancy insomnia complicated by heartburn, racing thoughts, and a desperate need to be doing more. BUT, I will take all of this because I am still pregnant. Certainly pregnancy is rough anyways, but these ‘normal’ symptoms make we want to scream in triumph because everything before this – infertility, loss, and threatened loss – is way worse, way way worse.
We have reached another pivotal milestone in this pregnancy – we are officially in the third trimester! Not only do our son’s survival statistics improve at this point, but the likelihood that I will carry him closer to term increases as well (thanks to shifting pressure). Additionally, I am getting the go ahead to slowly start increasing activity. Something that I believe will help work out some of the lingering anxiety.
This is a huge celebratory moment and I feel wholly present in it. I feel excited for him in every inch of my being. With lots of laughter and tenable joy I am preparing for him with oppenness and immense love. It is important to note this before I go on.
As March comes to a close, I am also viscerally reminded of the constant teetering between two worlds that I have become accustomed to. April holds another milestone, a dreaded marker of the time lapsed since I last held Finnian and Maisie. In sixteen days we will have lived one year since their birth.
We are still in the first year of grief, despite the joy that we feel for the new life coming, there is an undeniable weight of the first year after loss. A weight of sorrow, confusion, longing, disbelief, and ultimately reckoning with what life could, should, and does look like. I can’t look past this, because I can’t unlive it. As much as people close to me would love for me to focus solely on the woman excitedly preparing for her baby boy, I can’t deny the other woman I am. I feel their absence in every inch of my body. I feel longing for them in every second of my life. I can’t pretend that I am not wholly her too.
At times it completely confounds me how I can feel two opposing emotions so strongly. But perhaps it’s because they aren’t opposing at all, perhaps it is because joy and grief are from the same cloth. Because they both wrap around the heart and stem from the same place, because grief is simply the expression of love in absence and joy is the expression of love in presence. And I have both right now. I have both equally.
April opens up both sides of things for us – celebratory joy that we are in the third trimester with our new baby boy and intensifying grief that Finnian and Maisie are not here to smash a cake. We have some ideas swirling about how to memorialize them on their birthday. A brief pause in all the planning and counting down for Baby L’s arrival to prepare for memorializing our other babies. D and I have talked and we still want to celebrate them, to remember just how much joy and love they brought us, to recognize that four short months was enough to change our hearts forever. Right now we plan to have cake, to light candles, and to make a donation in their name (perhaps I will write more on this later).
Milestones and memorials. My life seems to be marked in countdowns lately. As I go through these new experience and grapple with what this kind of loss and life looks like, I continue to share bits here in hopes that it will help someone like me or someone that is supporting another woman in similar shoes.
It’s important for anyone that may be supporting a mother pregnant again after loss to know that she can feel wholly and completely happy and be intentionally bonding with her new child, while still experiencing full and total brokenness from her grief. The two emotional worlds of pregnancy and grief overlap in confusing ways. Her days are filled with equal parts love, fear, hope, and pain.
There is often a subtle shaming that many pregnant women receive about how they should feel, what they should be doing, how they are or are not appropriately managing emotions and how that will effect their unborn child. And while there is some research to indicate consistently higher levels of coritsol can impact the unborn child, it is helpful to remember in these cases that this is also a grieving person. And likely, a person who is doing more than you could ever imagine to manage the balance. Save the advice and direction - all she really needs from you is grace and acceptance and probably some chocolate.
We live in a “move-on” culture. But I don’t buy that philosophy. I don’t believe that healing has to include releasing, forgetting, leaving behind, and moving on. I do believe healing requires moving forward, shifting, opening, and redefining. And as this little boy’s foot jabs into my ribcage, as I feel him roll inside me, as the joy of his life vibrates in my core, I know for certain that I am moving forward.
I take in a deep breath, equal parts relief, excitement, and longing as we enter the third trimester and we approach the year mark of our loss. I shift expecations to embrace a different kind of yearly celebration for the twins. I open my heart and my soul to embrace the love and joy of their brother’s life, knowing the interconnectedness that exists between them all. I move forward gently and with internal grace that my feelings are okay – that I can love them all completely, totally, un-abandoningly, without taking anything from the other.
I redefine myself as a mother. And will probably do so again, and again, and again.
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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