6 weeks+ 1 day pregnant
About a week after losing Nieve I sat in the garden where I saw a spider spinning its web. The spider worked diligently and relentlessly at the task. It occurred to me that if the web got broken, the spider would not give up on web-making. He may well be disheartened, tired, uncertain, but he would try again, rebuild. Ultimately I think that this is the conclusion that many loss-families come to after losing a child. Though, we are more than ‘disheartened’-we are terrified, and we are we are more than ‘tired’- we are emotionally exhausted, and we are more than ‘uncertain’- we are lost. Inspite of all that, I think most of us eventually choose to keep moving, to rebuild.
The day I found out I’d lost my baby, one of my immediate thoughts was that we’d have to try again. At the time I think I was in shock and my brain went into problem solving mode. Problem: we’ve lost the baby. Solution: make a new one. I wrestled with these thoughts in the early days because they made me feel incredibly guilty. How could I be thinking of another baby at a time like this? After losing her spouse, surely the widow doesn’t immediately contemplate finding a new partner? But I learned I was not alone in this urge and many of the other loss mums I spoke to felt the same. I viewed the loss of my baby as two fold; it was the loss ‘Nieve’ but also the loss of motherhood. I grieved for both losses but began to reason that although I had lost Nieve, I had not necessarily lost my chance to be a mother.
The yearning for motherhood is biological, often very powerful, instinctive…primal. After losing my baby my arms ached to hold her. I remember the first night back at home I was awoken to the sound of crying and immediately lept out of bed. The cat. My body was primed to respond to a baby who was no longer there. I was a mother- a mother without her child, but a mother nonetheless.
When I began speaking of a trying again, I unconsciously began to refer to a new baby as ‘her’. In my head Nieve still meant pregnancy and pregnancy still meant Nieve. It was only by talking to my counsellor that I realised this and realised the importance of seperating a future pregnancy from the one in my past. A part of me had reasoned that if I could get pregnant quickly I could just see it as one long pregnancy, but I quickly learned that a new baby was not a remedy for the lost one. Although I got pregnant again relatively quickly, I think that the months inbetween have been important in helping me to come to terms with the loss of my daughter. And in a way, that felt like the fairest thing to both babies- to give me time to grieve for the first before making headspace for the second.
Another loss mum recently asked me how I knew I was ready to try again. She was scared that having another baby would take something away from the baby she had lost. This new pregnancy is not a bandage for the wound left by losing my first child. It isn’t a remedy for the pain, but it is hope. A rainbow in the midst of a rainstorm;
“Rainbow Baby” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.”
As for whether having another baby will take something away from my love for my first child, well, the answer is that love is endless. Parents who go on to have a second child don’t stop loving the first just because the second one comes along. We don’t have a ‘love quota’ which gets used up on only one child or have to ‘dilute’ our love in order to distribute it between two or more children. I believe that multiple loves just makes you richer.
Nieve will always be part of our family but that doesn’t mean that that family can’t expand. I talked to my counsellor yesterday about feeling guilty for ‘letting Nieve go’, by investing hope in another pregnancy. She made me realise that I wasn’t letting Nieve go at all, I was just letting go of some of the pain and hurt- and those things aren’t Nieve.
So far I’m finding the pregnancy journey…unsettling. Someone on the SANDs (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death) website used the analogy of it being like getting back on a plane after being involved in a plane crash. We’re told the odds of it happening again are low but that doesn’t remove the fear that it could happen. We’re told that better safety checks will be in place on this plane ride, but the flight is still going to feel agonisingly long. The fact is, until we touchdown at our destination the ride is going to be a bumpy one, but despite the fears and uncertainties, I’m still glad I got onboard.