As we approach our due date, I’m finding myself paralyzed with fear at times. Overall this pregnancy has been filled with joy because I’ve been taught the hard lesson that worrying, stressing, and trying to make plans never guarantee a good outcome. In situations like pregnancy, attempts to control anything are most often fruitless.
Sometimes I can quickly name the fears I feel, but other fears are a bit trickier. They don’t reveal themselves until I’m talking it out with a friend or my counselor. Sometimes the fears mask themselves in silly ways. Currently, I’m in a complete panic over Corrine’s nursery. Logically, I know she will be fine with the items we have and if we need something, we can simply go get it. Fear finds a way to seep in anyway. Right now I’m in a frenzy to make her room perfect. To transform a space in our home that’s welcoming and warm and complete. When things don’t go as planned, fear takes over. Fear takes me back to a weekend when the room stood empty and a crib was delivered with a broken rail – a precursor to a few days later when I felt as empty and broken as that room that was almost a nursery.
Bear with me as I freak out over unimportant details like paint colors, fonts, and fabrics. I know they don’t REALLY matter in the end. If I could instead control how and when Corrine comes, I would…but I simply can’t. It’s difficult not knowing how or when she will arrive. Not knowing if she will be in danger in the process of getting her out. Those unknowns scare me, but they are easy to name. Sure, I’m scared of how bad the pain of childbirth will be, but that pain doesn’t scare me as much as the emotional pain that consumed me last year. Physical pain is temporary and can be remedied with medicine and healing. The emotional pain doesn’t fade, there’s no fix, and it’s paralyzing.
What fears have you faced in a pregnancy? How did they mask themselves in ways you found hard to identify? How did you overcome your fears and find joy?
Being tall, I have to say the most common questions I get are “how tall are you?” and “do you/did you play basketball?” When I was single, it was people asking me if I’d met anyone special. Then I met someone special and got asked when we would be married. We got married then questions about when/if we’d have a baby. I suppose it continues from there. You have a baby, then everyone what’s to know when/if you’ll have a second baby. Life is weird that way – like everyone needs to follow a timeline laid out by the board game Life.
I’ve been surprised lately that the question I get most now isn’t about my due date or the gender of the baby.
“Is this your first?”
What a seemingly harmless question. One I’ve probably asked in the past before I knew how difficult that question can be for someone to answer. In most scenarios, I answer yes knowing that the asker doesn’t really want to know about my journey of heartache and loss. But it does make me pause. Is this my first baby I’ve carried this far? Yep. Is this the first baby I get to deliver and bring home? I sure hope I get to bring her home. Is this my first baby? No. No, it’s not. I have another child that lives within my heart. One that can’t be seen but is very real and dear to me. Losing her was harder than losing family I’ve known all my life. So it crushes me to answer “yes” to that question when the answer is NO. I want to remember my angel and talk about her. For whatever reason, it’s not socially acceptable. Could you imagine not talking about one of your kids? To have to pretend that one doesn’t exist and never did? Talk about heartbreak!
I appreciate the thoughtfulness to ask me questions. And in some aspects Corrine will be my first – the first baby to come home, to keep me up at night, the first to hold in my arms. But she is my second. And in all honesty, she likely wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t lost her sister. The real answer to that question is NO, because their stories and lives are intertwined.
As a loss mom, there can be mixed emotions about the term “rainbow” baby – which refers to the baby they have after the loss of a pregnancy/baby. Some people feel as though the term makes the child they lost the “storm” and that the following baby is supposed to be all rainbows and happiness.
I’ve waited until now to share my feelings about the term, to let myself adjust to how I felt with carrying my rainbow. Up until October, I’d only had one baby I loved…and it felt unfair to make judgments without knowing what it would like to love another baby. I met with my counselor last week who also happens to be expecting her rainbow baby this summer. We lost our babies last year around the same time, and we are both so excited for each other to be pregnant again. During the session when the term rainbow baby was mentioned, she apologized for using that term without knowing how I felt about it. We proceeded to talk about it and I think I finally came to a decision on what it means to me.
Gloria was not my storm. She was the happiest thing EVER in my life. With a due date in August, she was sure to provide warmth and sunshine…never rain. Losing Gloria was my storm. The torrential downpour of tears that followed her loss soaked the soil of my soul. Clouds of doubt, sadness, grief, depression blocked the bright light that had previously filled my life.
Occasionally, I’d spot a rainbow – in my bathroom, outside after a rain, through the glass doors at work. It reminded me that hope wasn’t lost and that happiness could shine through the dark clouds that hung over me, creating rainbows full of vibrant colors and love – a promise of better things to come.
I love rainbows…and I love my rainbow baby. The term brings nothing but happiness to me. But when I really think about it – my girls are my suns. Both of them are shining a bright, warm light on me that I never want to fade. It’s the tears of heartache mixed with their light that make the rainbow.
In a strange way, I’m beginning to be thankful for everything that’s happened in the last 2 years. Of course, I’d love to have Gloria here with me…nothing will ever change that. But if she were here, there likely wouldn’t be a rainbow or a Corrine. Corrine can never replace Gloria. The more I fall in love with Corrine, the more I fall in love with Gloria.
So in the midst of your storms…remember that the heartache you feel is never bigger than the blessings God will give you. I’m forever thankful for the blessings I’ve received after the storm.
My life has been full of second chances following a disappointment. I used to feel discouraged by them, but I’m slowly learning to look for the good after the storm. People will be there to see you through it. Bright lights and vibrant colors will remind you that happier times are ahead. You’ll be 1000 times more grateful than you would be if you hadn’t experienced a storm. And just maybe there will be a pot of gold on the other side of that rainbow…shining as bright as her big sister.
Yesterday I got to see your sweet face for the first time. I’m so in awe of you, how perfect your little body is growing. Seeing and hearing your beating heart melts my own. Watching those tiny fingers touch your face. Even seeing your hiccups made me want to cry happy tears. All of those things let me know that you’re real and healthy and not just a dream.
It was my chance to see what you’re doing inside that causes all of my tummy twitches. My chance to see inside your world. And my inspiration for wanting to show you every magical thing in our big world.
I was surrounded by your grandparents, great grandma, cousin, aunt, siblings, and daddy. Everyone so happy and anxious to meet you. You’re our little Rosebud and seeing you grow and bloom is the single most amazing thing that I’ve ever witnessed.
You make me feel like the luckiest mama ever. You’ve been the gold that sealed back together the broken pieces of my heart. You’re my rainbow, the bright and beautiful colors reminding me to always hold on to hope and knowing the sun will shine again.
It feels silly that I’m writing this post on the eve of my 35th birthday. I can’t believe it’s taken me that many years to get to this point, but here I am. Better late than never.
I’ve changed. Becoming a mom, even without a baby in my arms, has changed me. Strangely, in the last few months, I’ve had visceral reactions to people crossing boundaries with me – verbally, emotionally, and physically.
In the past, I allowed these things to either roll off my back or quietly just soak into my soul. But being a mom has changed the way I feel. Today, someone touched and rubbed my belly (with two hands!) without asking permission and internally I became unglued. I don’t know how, but I held it together in front of the person but ended up sobbing later. Never in a million years did I expect a belly rub to bring up so many emotions, but it did. It felt intrusive. I felt caught off guard and supremely protective. And worst of all, it brought up all of the memories of unwanted touches from my past. Memories that I sincerely hope my child will never have.
How have I spent my entire life bending myself to conform to boundaries set by others? Why did it take having my child inside me to find these emotions? How can I help my child form their own boundaries? How can I help them to enforce those boundaries? How did I convince myself before that it was okay for people to cross my boundaries? How did I tolerate it prior to now?
I’m not sure that I have the answers to any of those questions. But I am feeling stronger tonight in realizing where, how, and when I need to set boundaries for myself. I’m thankful that this journey has helped me to realize more about myself and grow from that knowledge. And I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to help my child understand and establish their own boundaries.
January has always been my least favorite month. The joy of the holidays are over and the cold weather turns me into a hermit. Truth be told, I’ve been in a funk for the last two weeks dreading this day. An arctic blast has blown through town and iced over my emotions. I want to stay in bed all day with my puppies and pull the warm covers over my head. That’s not the way life works. Life and time marches on whether you are marching along with it or hiding under a blanket.
It’s been one year since we lost our Gloria. One year since my heart was broken. A total of 365 days since I felt like a sobbing zombie being wheeled back into an operating room, forced to say goodbye to my child before I ever had a chance to say hello. Twelve months of trying to healing my mind, body and soul.
I know the experience of losing Gloria has changed me for the better, but it still stings like hell. There’s still nothing I wouldn’t do to have her here today. I’d give anything to be with her for just a few moments and hold her sweet face in my hands and tell her that I love her. My heart will always ache for her.
Tonight I decided to watch the pilot episode of This Is Us with my oldest stepdaughter. Towards the end of the episode, after helping Rebecca deliver two healthy babies, the doctor then has to deliver the bad news to Jack that the third baby had passed. During their talk, Dr. K shares the wisdom below.
Dr. K: “We were married 53 years. Five children, 11 grandkids. But we lost our very first child during the delivery. The reason I went into this field, truth be told. I have spent five decades delivering babies. More babies than I can count. But there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of the child I lost. And I’m an old man now. I like to think that because of the child that I lost, because of the path that that he sent me on, that I have saved countless other babies. Yeah. I like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital. Just maybe not the way you planned.”
This year has definitely not turned out the way that I planned. We didn’t get to take home our baby from the hospital. And I definitely didn’t count on being the one in our house to do the majority of the crying this year, but I was. I thought I’d be the one consoling, not needing to be consoled. But I have also realized that all children change us, whether they are in our arms or in our hearts.
Thank you to everyone who has helped to keep the memory of our angel alive. Thank you for the kind words, prayers, hugs, and shoulders to cry on. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and being a friend.
The year 2017 started off giving us the sourest lemon that life has to offer. Thank you for helping me to turn it into something resembling lemonade. This year is looking much sweeter already.
I’m sure every pregnancy brings a mother feelings of anxiousness and anticipation. After a loss, being anxious during a pregnancy is a full time job. While I rationally know there was nothing I could have done to prevent my loss, I catch myself doing little things with this pregnancy in hopes that we have a different outcome.
The first six weeks made me a basket case. I wanted to cry every time I felt ill or a noticed a weird twinge in my abdomen. I prayed for things to go smoothly. Yet, at the same time, a lack of symptoms freaked me out because it could have meant my hormones were dropping and something had happened to baby. I remember holding my breath at that 6 week ultrasound. As the tech zoomed in, she pointed out the sac. It looked empty. COMPLETE PANIC. Then, within a few terrifying seconds, there it was…my precious rainbow baby showing off it’s newly formed and beating heart. I lost my shit on that exam table. I was so torn between feeling nostalgic for my first pregnancy/baby and feeling so incredibly hopeful and thankful for this second pregnancy/baby.
Then I spent weeks rubbing my belly and telling this baby that we are strong and healthy and we will make it through this together. My voice sounded shaky and I realized these words were being said more for my benefit than for baby’s. I’ve panicked dozens of times between the 1st and 2nd and 3rd scans. I’m THAT girl that panics and calls the nurse line when she wakes up feeling energetic with boobs that are no longer sore. The girl that buys a fetal doppler on Amazon to use at home and make sure that tiny heart is still ticking!
Being a part of the loss mom sisterhood is incredibly special. Finding support in strangers who share one very heartbreaking experience. The only downside I’ve found, is that you become hyper aware. As we share stories of our beloved babies, I’ve realized that not every pregnancy ends with a healthy “take home” baby. We’ve lost them at every stage – from days after conception, up to 40 weeks. We’ve lost them for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes no reason at all. As I reach each milestone, I remember women who lost their babies at that stage, or even beyond.
Needless to say, I feel butterflies on a regular basis. I worry when I wake up from sleeping and realize that I’ve been laying on my back. I worry that I’ve over exerted myself on some days, and that I’ve been too lazy on other days. I’m not sure if those feelings ever lessen or disappear, but I imagine not.
But sometimes, those butterflies aren’t my nerves at all. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes those butterflies are the gentle kick of a sweet babe who is growing healthy and strong. Reminding me that things do go well and that this may be my healthy take home baby. Please keep fluttering, my darling! ❤
Last New Year’s Eve we celebrating two friends getting married. It was warm outside, a beautiful day with the sun shining. I remember standing there with my baby in my tummy watching friends say vows and couldn’t have felt happier. I felt like all the pieces of my life had come together. Standing next to a husband more wonderful than the one I’d dreamed I’d find. Growing a life we created together.
After the ceremony, we walked up quite a few rocky steps to the ceremony site. Near to the top, I felt sick. My stomach was queasy and I started to feel faint. My husband helped me to the top and I sat down as things started to black out. After eating some fruit and getting water, I started to feel better. We celebrated that night and felt thankful for all 2017 would bring.
Two weeks later, I had my final prenatal appointment. The nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler. I was sent for an unplanned ultrasound next door. I recall seeing my uterus flash on the screen as my baby floated lifelessly to the bottom. “No heartbeat….no growth…I’m sorry.” In this moment, I felt crushed. Wishing I could let the baby have my heartbeat if it could just stay alive. They explained that I’d had a missed miscarriage and the baby had died somewhere around 9 weeks gestation. Around New Years.
Sometimes I wonder if I lost her at that wedding. If my body was as heartbroken as I would be two weeks later. By far, this was the worst thing I’d ever experienced.
I cried and cried and cried until I was sick of crying. My baby died and a piece of me died with it. The dreams I’d had were gone. The memories I imagined making simply vanished.
I really thought at this point in time I’d be ready to say goodbye to 2017 with my middle finger in the air. But in a way, despite the tragedy of losing my child, something wonderful happened. I lost my baby, and afterwards I found myself.
I feel softer in places where I used to feel tough. I feel tougher in places where I used to feel soft. I’m kinder to myself and allow myself to have boundaries. I say “no” when I want and don’t feel guilty about it for days. I shared my story, and found others who understood how I felt. I am not scared to say my daughter’s name, tell someone about her, or to miss her. I care a lot less about what people think. I give a lot more value to my own thoughts and feelings.
In that great loss, I found a new me and I’m forever thankful for it. And thankful for the friends who have supported me along the way.
My heart still aches for Gloria. Knowing that I’ll never get to see her face or hold her on this earth. That she won’t be in our family photos even though she is the only piece of my family who shared my blood.
I imagined that sweet baby staring at the twinkle of Christmas lights and laughing at her siblings opening gifts. Instead she’s looking down on us, our forever angel.
She’s watching over us all. She’s a guardian angel to her little sister or brother. And I’m so thankful to have her in my heart. Thankful for the lessons her short life taught me. And mostly I’m thankful that she showed me what it feels like to love someone so completely, even when a world and a lifetime separates us.
Happy New Year, my darling angel! 💜
**SPOILER ALERT This post contains spoilers from the episode “Number 2” of the show This Is Us. Episode aired November 22, 2017.**
No, I’m not talking about THAT number 2. 🙂 I’m talking about the latest episode of This Is Us titled Number 2. I’m so thankful for this show. I’ve loved Milo Ventimiglia since his Gilmore Girls days and adored Mandy Moore since I was in high school. I’ve fallen in love with the actors that play their children on this show. But mostly, I love how REAL it is. This Is Us addresses the real, uncomfortable, and heart breaking topics that people often avoid discussing.
This last year, I’ve realized how important it is to share those uncomfortable stories with others. Sharing allows us to heal, connect, and support each other. When shows touch on these topics, it opens the door for more healing, connection, and support.
I just finished watching the most recent episode, and it reminded me that I’m not the only person who was so excited about their baby that they rushed out and bought things for a nursery. I’m not the only person who laid in my bed sobbing while my husband called to cancel an order for a crib. That I’m not the only person who returned items to Pottery Barn Kids praying that they wouldn’t ask me the reason for the return.
I’m not the only mother who wondered what I did wrong that resulted in losing my child. Feeling guilty that I let down my husband by losing his baby. Knowing that pregnancy and baby loss isn’t anyone’s fault, but struggling to remember that applies to me, also.
If you’re in the same shoes as me, please realize it was nothing you did wrong. It’s not your fault. If love could save our babies, I have no doubt they’d still be with us. Tell yourself that it’s okay to not be okay with the loss. It’s painful as hell, but you will get through it one day at a time. This is us…
We are loss moms. Moms who loved our baby from day one, before we had seen their face, held them, or even knew the gender. We are the moms who unleash our grief at odd times, in odd ways. Moms who would do anything to have one more second, one more day, one more month with our angels. There isn’t anything that can fill the void, but I’m so thankful to have a network of women who understand me and lift me up, even when they may be struggling themselves.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for strong friends, second chances, and grace. Hoping you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating the wonderful things in life.
I’m Teri. I’m one of the many faces of pregnancy loss. For those of you who don’t know, October happens to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This also happens to be the first time in my life that I knew there was a month dedicated pregnancy and infant loss awareness. This time last year, I was blissfully ignorant to anything related to pregnancy or infant loss.
I’m realizing the world can be split into two lines like a game of red rover. One line stands on the ignorant side of an issue and the other line stands firmly aware. One side cannot imagine how the other side feels. Not until the other side calls your name. Red rover, red rover, let Teri come over. Just like that I ended up on the other side. I’m really proud to say that once I made it to the other side I was surrounded by strong, beautiful people who welcomed me with warm embraces.
We all need to be more aware. Some could argue that people are becoming too sensitive and too easily offended. But I will argue that many people are not sensitive or thoughtful enough. I know now how hurtful words and actions can be, even if they are not intended to be hurtful. There have been situations I’ve found myself in recently that would not have bothered me at all in the past but now reduce me to tears and panic attacks. I’m talking small things. I don’t believe my reactions mean that I’m overly sensitive or easily offended. Because of recent events, I do take longer to carefully choose my words. I am slower to make judgements about situations. I’m more thoughtful about how my actions may affect someone.
It’s my hope that sharing my journey will increase awareness, will help other grieving parents, and help people learn how to support their loved ones who experience a loss.
Facts about pregnancy and infant loss:
- Pregnancy and infant loss includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn.
- Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child.
- National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.
- Even if you never personally suffer the loss of a baby, you likely know multiple mothers who have experienced loss. According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this statistic does not include pregnancies not verified in a doctor’s office, still births, and infant losses.
- Dads especially need to be given the space and time to grieve as they often are not only grieving their child but also grieving over the pain of their wives.
Please read this full list of rights, and have them in the back of your mind should you or a loved one ever experience a pregnancy or infant loss. Here are some of the main rights to remember.
- To be told all options and to be given the choice (when medically possible) on how to proceed when your baby has died, such as D&C, natural delivery or delivery induced by medications.
- To see, hold, and take photos of your child.
- To name your baby.
- To request to have or not have an autopsy or pathology exam.
- To bury your child in accordance with your family’s beliefs and rituals.
- To be informed of the grieving process.
How can you help support a grieving friend?
- Take the time to listen and understand your friend’s needs and wants.
- Remembering the child at holidays and on anniversary dates.
- Not minimizing the grief of baby loss or seriousness of medical problems.
- It’s never wrong to say the words, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby. Is there anything that I can do for you?”
- Accepting that grief is an individual experience and can’t be rushed or forced to fit another person’s expectations.
- Any sentence that begins with the words “at least” needs to be reconsidered.