Here I am – deep into my labor with Frances, my baby born after the stillbirth of my first daughter, Dorothy. That look on my face? Pure concentration. Focusing in on the very real pain of childbirth and willing myself to believe that this time it would be different.
Judging by the light in the photo, the sun is lowering into the horizon and, although I don't know it, I am moments away from beginning to push. I could probably sense that I was nearing the final moments of my pregnancy, but I still was not sure what those final moments would look like. I could not bring myself to trust that this baby would be born alive.
Because until Frances was born, I had never given birth to a living baby. In my experience, I could not believe everything would be okay because when you have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, you know that everything's okay – until it isn't. The loss of a pregnancy, like any loss, always happens in a moment. Even if it is an anticipated loss, there is always that one second in time when you found out everything wasn’t okay. There is a point when you crossed a line and you can no longer regard the world with the innocence of certainty. Losing a pregnancy or a child and facing infertility opens your eyes to the fleeting nature of life. You know how quickly everything can change.
This is why it’s so hard to celebrate when you are pregnant after a loss.
It’s not because you’re a pessimist or because you dwell in the negative. It’s hard to celebrate because you remember how it feels to have your heart break when it was overflowing with love. To feel this is agony and you are worried that your heart cannot withstand the devastation of another loss.
All that you are feeling is hard to convey to a person who has not experienced the loss of their baby. When they hear the tiniest mention of good news, they simply want to revel in the positive. It’s not because they are ill-intentioned, it’s because positivity is a more comfortable place to be. Don’t be afraid to pull them away from there. If you feel safe in doing so, it is okay to bring them to your place of anxiety and worry. It may not be comfortable, but their stay is temporary. This is where you spend your days and you deserve some company.
Losing your child has thrown you into a life of uncertainty and your ability to embrace this uncertainty is a beautiful thing. It is what gives you the remarkable ability to breathe in fear and exhale hope as you push forward into the unknown. And that is worth celebrating.
Read more from the author's blog, An Unexpected Family Outing