I didn’t think there could be a feeling much worse than two of the things I’ve experienced throughout my three pregnancies. The first is that awful bit in the first trimester (for me it’s around week five to week 12) where my food aversion is at an all-time high, my lethargy is through the roof and simply brushing my teeth makes me want to vomit. I’ve been through that three times now, and it doesn’t get even a little bit easier.
Secondly, and by far the most severe, was the loss of my second baby in January, at around eight weeks gestation. I thought I was rattled at that point, but what I’m learning is that it’s often not until you’re going through another pregnancy that you really begin to uncover the extent of just how deeply a loss can affect you.
I am now 27 weeks pregnant with my son, my daughter will be two when he’s born in March and we’re excited. I’m feeling so many kicks, all throughout the day, and I cherish this special time, where it’s just him and me, and the communication through my belly is our beautiful little language, a secret we share — just us. It’s delicious.
What’s hard is actually letting myself picture life as a family of four.
Announcing this pregnancy to friends and family was one of the most anxiety-inducing things I’ve ever done. I put it off for a long time, waiting for something to go wrong, almost so I was off the hook. I didn’t let myself worry about reaching the 12-week “safe zone” and adopted a total ‘whatever will be will be’ attitude, telling myself constantly that if something did go wrong it would be sad, but I wouldn’t let myself feel it again. Announcing him to everyone made him real, and would make a loss all the more real.
When I heard Zoe Marshall announce her pregnancy I was thrilled for her. We both suffered a loss around the same time, and I truly felt everything she put out that she was feeling. I also understood when she mentioned her husband, Benji was anxious about her sharing the news prematurely. My husband was the same. That made me sad.
For men, this whole world of pregnancy and babies is so new when it happens to them. When we fall pregnant and the women are excited, the men get excited too, it’s a glorious countdown bubble of milestones and buying ridiculous outfits and it’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria. But once you suffer a loss, it’s hard for men to truly understand the extent of the anguish we go through, physically and emotionally. We dampen, so they dampen and as a family, we’re robbed of the elation we would normally feel with a new pregnancy. Instead a feeling of caution and anxiety — and even worse, indifference —
takes over, which just doesn’t seem fair to anyone, especially the new baby. It’s a suit of armour in a way, designed to shield us, but it’s just so unfulfilling and joyless.
When I heard Zoe describe her pregnancy in a day-to-day format, it resonated.
”The whole thing is a beautiful miracle but the actual day-to-day is quite depressing,” she said.
I know for Zoe she mentioned it’s mostly regarding the lethargy and lack of motivation she’s feeling, mixed with the unwillingness to move very far or go anywhere — and I felt that — incredibly so. However, what I’m finding even more depressing, among what I too know is a beautiful miracle, is the day-to-day standing on a knife’s edge, fully expecting something to go wrong. Not even worrying about it, simply expecting it, and worse still: accepting it.
I haven’t taken one ‘bump pic’ this time around. When I don’t feel him kick for an extended period of time, I don’t worry — I don’t think I should rush to the hospital like I did when I was pregnant with my daughter and went half a day without feeling her kick. Instead, this time, the bricks in my wall start to build. I tell myself, “okay, we might have lost him, but I’ll be okay — I have my daughter — it’ll be okay.”
I instantly begin to disconnect, as a way of shielding myself from the potential pain. I talk myself through whether I would have to deliver him naturally or if I would hold a funeral. I think about at what point we might start trying again for another baby. I don’t commit to a name, because I know if I do, the pain would be worse. I begin to let him go and tell myself it will be okay.
And then he kicks me.
And I’m so relieved, but I don’t let myself feel it too deeply, because I’m well aware that he could be taken from me at any moment. I even get my husband to feel his kicks when they’re strong, and he smiles, but I can tell he’s actively trying not to connect too deeply, too. He’s protecting himself, and I can’t blame him. Sometimes it’s all we can do to survive.