It has been really difficult to embrace joy in pregnancy No. 2 after the loss of my first child to stillbirth. Things that once brought delight and pleasure in my last pregnancy now seem dulled by the trauma from the last.
I don’t want to feel this way. I want to be able to be elated that I am pregnant again. I want to feel those innocent feelings of excitement and bliss that come with pregnancy, instead of the nervousness and anxiety that accompany most of my days now. As the Christmas holiday approaches, I decided to focus on finding joy again in pregnancy after loss. Here are some ways I plan on doing this:
Focus on what is good. My husband and I go to bed at night now and each identify three good things that happened to us that day. It could be with the new baby, his job, my job, or just everyday interactions. We share about the little pleasant things that have happened in our lives in effort to help us focus on the bright spots in life, the roof over our head, the new deal at work, or the client whose life I made a little better today by listening. By doing this we see that even during times of stress and even grief, life is still beautiful. It really does help us make it through each day.
Milestones and movement. The little kicks, rolls, and each new week we make it one step closer helps me feel less anxious in some ways about the pregnancy and provides a reassurance that maybe a baby this time is possible. It also helps me stay in the present moment, by realizing that a kick from baby is something to be joyous about, something to celebrate, because it means baby is healthy and growing and that is all I can hope for. Feeling movement or meeting a milestone in some ways, if I really reframe it, is even more joyous than the first time. When Nick lays his head on my belly and talks to baby and even feels her move, part of me is more overwhelmed with the beauty of bliss than I was before, because I know now how precious life is. In knowing this, if I’m in the right mindset, I can find great delight in the thought.
Belly Pictures. With my first pregnancy we took pictures every week as a way to celebrate the growing baby and belly. This pregnancy we do more monthly pictures and in doing so we seem to celebrate the changing seasons of life along with my changing belly and baby. This is an area where we really have to set aside time to “practice” pushing away fear and finding joy in the pregnancy again, but it usually turns out cute, fun, and a great way for Nick and I to take little steps into celebrating and anticipating being parents for baby number two.
Finding Joy in pregnancy after loss is a challenge to say the least. The way I have been able to lean into moments of happiness with baby No. 2, is by realizing that this is the only time I did get with baby No. 1. I tell myself that I don’t want to be driven by the events of the past and not celebrate this pregnancy and rob myself, Nick, or this baby of happy memories to be made. I can’t always find joy, most of the time I’m anxious or fearful, but I am extremely proud of myself when I do find moments to focus on joy in this pregnancy. In some ways it brings me a sense of peace.