Friday, August 13, 2010

Hope and Joy After Loss

I am pregnant with my fifth child. This occasionally astounds me. Sometimes it is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I have had FIVE different human beings growing inside of me.

Being a pregnant woman who is finally pregnant enough for people to see that I'm growing larger because there is a BABY in there (and that it is safe to acknowledge my pregnancy) is bittersweet. Not because I'm not happy because BOY HOWDY AM I. It is bittersweet because the question is almost always one of two: "When are you due?" and "How many kids do you have?"

The first question is an easy one. I'm due January 9th. Pretty simple right? The second question is a lot tougher. I am pregnant with my fifth child, but due to a loss before we had our son, you will only ever get to see four of my babies.

In conversation, I find it easier (for the other person) to call this baby my fourth, but a little piece of my heart breaks off whenever I do. (As I know there are many of us who have suffered miscarriage, I'm curious as to how others answer this question. Please feel free to comment with advice.)

Few people really knew how devastating the loss of my child was for me. I didn't blog for a month then started with joke posts and then *poof* - suddenly I was pregnant again. My son was born and life went on. I didn't really share about the stress and worry all during his pregnancy about whether he was going to be OK. You got to hear me whine a lot about how sick I was and other things that upset me at the time, but you never heard about the baby that never got to come home and never got a chance to be a part of our family.

During my pregnancy with my son, I had a lot of fear and a lot of emotion that I never really expressed. In retrospect, I am certain that this affected my ability to enjoy being pregnant. I constantly waited for something to go wrong. My labor and delivery was a rough one and I'm convinced that it is because I spent so much time being ruled by fear that I could never just let myself go and relax enough to enjoy the experience.

Now, as I sit here, pregnant with my fifth child, I refuse to let fear rule me for another minute. I am tired of being afraid. I have had an ultrasound that tells me that this baby is fine. Statistically, the chances of loss are low. Yesterday, I saw my daughter on a screen, moving and kicking with a healthy heart and a perfectly formed little body. I saw a hundred little pieces of evidence that she is going to be in my arms in a matter of months.'s time to do something that I should have done a long time ago.

Dear FEAR,

You are hereby evicted. You can just move along and go hang out with the depression that I kicked to the curb awhile back. I'm all done with you. You ran the show for too long and that's all over now. I'm tired of you sucking the joy out of things that should bring happiness and joy to my life.

Don't let the door hit you on the butt on your way out.

Now that that is done, I'm going to concentrate on sitting back, relaxing and searching for little itty bitty girly things to welcome my precious fifth child. I will be joyful and excited and I will *squeeee* a lot. I will surround myself with the color pink. I will dance happily and revel in the fact that estrogen will soon take over our house.

...and if you see me doing anything less? Give me a good hard *poke* and remind me of what I've said today. I will appreciate and love you for it.


Erin said...

I am proud of you for kicking fear to the curb. It's not easy to do, in any situation and it takes a lot of courage. May the rest of your pregnancy be filled with nothing but pink, sparkly JOY.

Veronica said...

I always preferred purple to pink. =)

So I've never experienced loss personally, but some of my doula work is to go into an ED when people have a loss before 20 weeks and need the emotional support. For some people, a baby who was lost at any point is like losing another child. It's hard to for others to know how to continually acknowledge this child, but it's still find to need that to happen. Others mourn the loss, but don't held the loss so personally. Some people really don't mourn the loss at all. All are fine, and it's important to just respect what mom (and dad) need to do to get from day to day and help them when it becomes too much to bear on their own.

As for the fear, so much of pregnancy is surrounded by fear. Birth professionals call it "spoiling the pregnancy". There's a perception that all of the tests, listening to your care provider's every whim, and just WANTING the baby should be enough to get a healthy baby. Oh, but don't get me started on the "healthy baby" scam. What amount a mom who is emotionally healthy after the birth?) Look, despite what TV says, every baby truly is a miracle. when you think of what they start from (egg and sperm), and what they end up being(a tiny person!), it's amazing that the process ever works at all!!! The tests can't really prevent anything (the science behind OB care is often weak at best), and the fear takes away from the daily joy, as you have pointed out.

In this case, nothing is to be gained by fear, and congratulations for all the work it took to get to the place you are! I hope this point help others acknowledge the pain and find the courage to move forward, without fear.

Marian said...

i'm proud of you, mama!

i haven't had a miscarriage, but i must confess that someone very close to me did, and i realize that i didn't support her as well as i could have. i think i said superficial things to try to make her feel better that probably had the opposite effect. i regret this and maybe someday (someday soon, thanks for inspiring me) i will tell her.

people say stuff and ask questions because they're making conversation and don't know what else to say. so, i'd say pick your battles. by which i mean that you don't *have* to answer any random person with the whole truth. you could just say "i have four children" and leave it at that. and decide when and with whom to share the whole story.

good for you! best wishes for a fun and exciting pregnancy!! yippee!

kris said...

Much love to you on this sweet sweet day. Much love.

I have always remembered the words of a woman who had suffered a miscarriage, who when asked how many children she had,always said . . .

"I only know you well enough to tell you about the three I have with me at the park today. But someday? If we are better friends? I will tell you about my fourth."

Oh my goodness, I loved her for that.

As I love you.

You are way strong.

LutherLiz said...

It is good and hard to kick fear to the curb. I am proud of you! I hope this pregnancy will be smooth and fully of joy and healing for you.

And I'd just say 5 kids myself!

Jo said...

Erin: Pink, sparkly JOY. I like that...I like that a LOT.

Veronica: You (as always) are awesome. Thanks for the very right.

Marian: I'm sure you didn't do as badly as you think you did. It's so hard to know what to say and do. Don't beat yourself up.

Kris: Love you.

Jo said...

LutherLiz: Sorry, missed you the first time. Thanks for the kind works. Hope we get a chance to meet up in MN soon. :)

Stephanie Jo said...

I know that I don't know the exact pain you experienced with your loss prior to having Jamie, but I do know the gut-wrenching pain of watching friend after friend become pregnant and have sweet, lovely babies while you and your husband struggle with infertility for almost 10 years. I am you are able to come to grips with your pain. I hope someday I am able to do the same with mine.....

Jen said...

Depending on who asks I answer differently. I have four living children and have lost 3, one of which was my youngest's twin.

I want more, but fear and dr.'s appts to figure out why are my roadblock for now.

I think it catches people off guard when I say what really happened but it also gives weight to the lives of those babies lost and expresses that they were and still are a deep part of who we are!

Sending love and hugs.

Emily R said...

People don't mean these questions to hurt, do they? But they do all the same. It's so hard to answer graciously because it's an awful question for you.

Shelli said...

You say, "I have 5 children. Three of them are here on Earth, one waits for me in Heaven and the 5th one is on her way."

Good riddance to fear.

Ash said...

so. proud. of. you.