It has been an incredible year of so many firsts, first Christmas, first birthday, first anniversary. But these are not the first as one may think, they are the first milestones of child loss. The pain of losing Aiden aches in my heart every day but each milestone also shows me that we will get through this. Life really does carry on, and we are so blessed to breathe the beautiful air every day. I thank Aiden every day for teaching me how special our lives really are.
It is also crazy to think that the next year will also be full of first but differently. We will celebrate our first Christmas, first birthday, and the first year with a new baby in her arms. It will be our rainbow after such a long storm.
In the last 365 days plus 1 month, I have felt so much devastation and grief but also so much love and hope at the same time. I sometimes feel guilty about the joy I feel for our new arrival. I feel like I am cheating grief somehow. I wonder what I would be like right now if I did not have this beautiful life growing inside of me keeping my mind busy and giving me something to look forward to. Emotions are so complex, to feel incredibly happy and incredibly sad in one breath. At times I even fear judgment from others, although deep down I know this is only my own judgment I feel. I judge myself for the happiness I feel for our new baby as I never want it to take away from my memory of Aiden and everything he was in our family. This feeling may be the strongest and most difficult first I have had to work through.
I remember the first time Jay and I discussed having a baby together. It was when Aiden, Declan and I were first in Memphis. We had so much hope then that this would be the cure we needed. One night, I whispered on the phone with Jay as the two boys slept soundly on either side of me in bed. We talked for hours about how beautiful a baby would be. How different an experience it would be together and how the baby would be part of all of us in our beautiful blended family. It was the first spark in the idea of us bringing a new life into this world together.
We also talked a lot about Lynkon that night. Lynkon was only 10 months old when Aiden was rushed to the hospital diagnosed with brain cancer. I remember the moment I had Lynkon I felt complete. 3 was the perfect number, or so I thought at the time. This shows us an example of how life and what you think you know can change so much. Leaving Lynkon at 10-month-old, still breastfeeding was of the topmost difficult things I have had to do in my life. Not only was my oldest terminally ill but I had to abandon this ideal life I had developed on my head and my new baby. I remember one doctor telling us during a bad scan early on that grief is a long process. It is not just the grief of losing the person, but the loss of the life you thought you would have. This has always stuck with me. I missed so many firsts with Lynkon, first steps, first words, first foods.
You never appreciate the small things until you realize the small things are what make the big things in life.
Now in the final weeks of pregnancy as I prepare more physically and mentally and everything becomes so real I am pretty much on an emotional roller coaster. Poor Jay, one minute I am euphoric, the next terrified and the next full-on sobs of both joy and grief.
I feel like a first time mom all over again but this time much more paranoid. I try to recall all the signs and symptoms of labour, what it’s like to have a newborn and everything in between. I swear your body makes you forget a lot of pregnancy and birth so you do it again. I also feel so many more fears than with all my other pregnancies. I think these fears have developed partly from being older but also because when that one in a million happens to you it filters through to the rest of your life. The last couple of appointments with my midwife have been filled with tears and anxiety as I race through a million what-if questions. I am told this is a normal feeling for parents who have experienced a loss but that does not comfort me in the middle of the night as I contemplate all the what if’s. I don’t really remember asking any questions with my other pregnancies other than, how much will it hurt and will there be drugs, oh to be in our 20’s again when we were invincible.
I know many who follow MamaOutpost have experienced child loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, accidents and cancer so I wanted to share my story with other moms struggling to see the sunshine again.
So how am I really preparing for childbirth after loss?
- I am reminding myself to not feel guilt over feeling joy
- I am reminding myself that love is infinite and it does not take away from my love for Aiden.
- I am reminding myself that I have no control over many of my worries and to let life play out as it needs to.
- I am reminding myself that even through tragedy in our lives there is always joys waiting around the corner (or for water to break).