Sunday, October 26, 2014
In a subsequent pregnancy (a term used in my bereaved circles to describe any pregnancy following the death of an infant or child), there tends to be a multitude of messages about grief. Many times a new pregnancy is met with sentiments that now the bereaved parent can be joyful, move on or stop grieving. In reality a subsequent pregnancy may be filled with anxiety, fear and even despair. For me, I remember finding out that we were pregnant with our middlest, 16 months after Flynn had died and after fertility interventions, and my first reaction was "oh shit, what have we done!" I was absolutely terrified of everything a pregnancy could mean and I did not want to experience the death of a baby again. I wasn't even sure that there was any other possibility for us. Moreover, where could I even say that out loud?? Everyone around us wanted us to have the joy of another child and although I knew their intentions were built from love and care, at times it felt like that desire came at the expense of Flynn's memory or the grief that would continue in my life as the result of being Flynn's mom.
As a way to cope with my anxiety during the pregnancy of my middlest I discussed funeral plans with my therapist and what we would do differently in the event that he died instead of coming home with us. I had more ultrasounds then I care to remember and although the notion to have less would seem to make sense; between doctors appointments I would become convinced that the baby had died in utero and it was just a matter of time before some medical professional would be breaking the news to me. While many suggested that I try to be rational about the pregnancy and it's likely positive outcome, it was not a helpful way to manage my stress. Experiencing the death of an infant had taught me that not only was I not invincible but much of what I experienced as my life was beyond my control; including my own pregnancy. It would take us weeks after our middlest was born to believe that we were living in reality and not a dream and we would regularly discuss our belief that he might not be real.
Of course that was ten years ago and I would like to say that it gets easier with each subsequent pregnancy but what I have come to find is there are new challenges that stir the anxiety or create fear. While that may be a case for not having subsequent pregnancies, being a parent and watching your family and children grow is such a gift it tends to overpower the fear in the end.
So Twenty Two and Six. That is today. Today I am twenty-two weeks and six days pregnant with our fifth child and my third subsequent pregnancy. It is of significance because as in my other two subsequent pregnancies this is a day I did not see carrying Flynn. He was born at twenty-two weeks and five days and there was not a Twenty Two and Six. As in the other pregnancies, I have held my breath and wished for my body to do what it is supposed to do as I have whispered to my child to please stay with me so that I could meet them, alive and crying on their Birth Day.
As for my observations in this pregnancy ~ it has been hard to be met with questions of my intelligence/mental health surrounding my choice to have another pregnancy and child. Although my anxiety and fears are tough at times, I am so aware of the blessings each of my children have given me and feel so privileged to have this opportunity one more time. It is not a matter of my intelligence, it is a matter of love.
“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”