27 weeks + 6 days pregnant
Yesterday I felt overwhelmed by sadness. I’ve been doing ok lately but it’s like grief and my ongoing heightened stress levels in this pregnancy had caught up with me and I felt a sense of emotional exhaustion. Most of the time I’m managing to ‘keep it together’ but sometimes I just crumble under the weight of it all. I try to rationalise that it’s bound to happen; that sometimes I’ll need help to bear the burdens that I carry. It’s like being on a long journey and carrying a very heavy load; sometimes you need a helping hand when it starts to get too much.
I do feel a certain level of duty to stay strong throughout this pregnancy. To keep a level head and do the best I can for Sprocket. This pressure comes from external sources too; I’m constantly reminded by others that stress is bad for the baby. “Think of the baby” “You’ll upset the baby” “Don’t get stressed it’s not good for the baby.” Unsurprisingly, statements like these do very little to ease my stress levels.
I think most of the time I stay relatively grounded and in control but does this come at an expense? I sometimes wonder if my pregnancy with Sprocket is delaying a part of the grieving process for Nieve. I got pregnant three months after I lost my daughter and although some people may believe that that was too quick, it served to give me a ‘life raft’ at a time when I was drowning in a turbulent ocean. It gave me reason to keep on going, something to fight for, a renewed investment in life.
I don’t regret the decision to get pregnant again so quickly. I think that this journey would be mentally tough whenever it took place and I’ll always testify that this pregnancy helped to ground me at a time when I was extremely lost. After I lost Nieve I remember rationalising that I didn’t want to wait to be in a place where I’d ‘healed’ before I got pregnant again. Somehow it felt easier to risk it all again while my world was still upside down than wait for it to settle. I knew it would be tough and so I had this urge to ‘forge ahead’ with it before I had chance to get scared or change my mind. I wanted to leap first and look later.
However, I do now wonder whether the mental energy and focus that this pregnancy has consumed has eradicated some of the mental space I needed to grieve for the baby I lost. Do I have unfinished business with grief?
Nieve is naturally such intricate part of this pregnancy and that fact has forced me to accept many facets of the loss. But how much have I really dealt with it? I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t spend as much time grieving for Nieve any more. Should I be fetching out her photos more and mourning for my loss? By focusing on my pregnancy am I blocking the reality? Is it necessary for me to experience more pain before I can fully accept my loss? Or have I skipped the intense part of grief by having something to invest in?
I don’t think I try to block out my memories of Nieve. On the contrary, I find I talk about her all the time. I talk about her to the medical professionals I meet in this pregnancy, I talk about her with Matt, I talk about her with my friends. I even feel compelled to talk about her with people who I barely know. I sometimes surprise myself by my urge to ‘share’, especially as many of the details are so personal and so emotionally charged. I think it’s my way of processing what happened. I feel a need to revisit, relive, repeat. The more I do, the easier it seems to get. Like I’m reading a familiar script rather than sharing the most cataclysmic event of my whole life. Is this dealing with grief? I’ve told myself it is and I congratulate myself on my progress, but am I fooling myself?
Sometimes I feel like my grief for Nieve is mixed in with my fear of losing another baby. That feels dishonourable to her somehow, like she should have her own space. Does the energy I spend feeling anxious about this pregnancy reduce the attention I can pay to my grief, leaving unresolved issues?
I think the thing I’ve learned about grief is that it’s not a linear process. We don’t just get ‘better and better’. I can think I’m doing ok but then it can hit me like a steam train and the grief is as raw as the day we lost her. Sometimes the power of the feelings can seem to come from nowhere and I’ve been shocked at how intensely I feel them.
If I’ve learned anything from losing my daughter it’s that life is so precious and you can’t afford to take anything for granted. I want to fully embrace the life I have because I have only one. I miss my daughter everyday but through Sprocket, beauty has entered my life once again and I feel blessed for that. My goal is to live as full and as happy a life as I can. To me that doesn’t mean blocking out Nieve’s memory but rather, to keep it alive. I just hope I’m doing her justice.