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Week 15: Pregnant again, after loss–leaning into excitement

Being pregnant with baby No. 2 has been a bittersweet journey.  My first baby, my daughter Nora, was stillborn at 40 weeks, after a PERFECT pregnancy, due to an infection that happened just hours before she was to be born.  It’s been 15 weeks since we found out we were pregnant for the second time,...

Henke10313Being pregnant with baby No. 2 has been a bittersweet journey.  My first baby, my daughter Nora, was stillborn at 40 weeks, after a PERFECT pregnancy, due to an infection that happened just hours before she was to be born.  It’s been 15 weeks since we found out we were pregnant for the second time, only 9 months after losing Nora.
I can recall standing shoulder to shoulder with my husband this past August, two days before I would miss my period, holding the pregnancy test parallel to our eyes, examining the thin blue lines with nervous anticipation as all expectant couples do.  “That’s not a line.”  Nick said, breaking the silence.  “It’s too faint.”
I replied with, “Yes it is.  Look here, the directions say ANY line is a POSTIVE result.” I explained while pointing to the thin, flimsy instructions in my hand.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s too early. You haven’t even missed your period yet.”
“I know.” I said as I looked down and walked back to the bathroom as I nonchalantly threw the test in the garbage. The excitement of being pregnant again had left before it had a chance to arrive.  It wasn’t there anymore. The innocence was gone and the emotions of this new pregnancy were now being held hostage by the disappointments of the previous one.
Henke10312At that moment, I remembered how I creatively told Nick, over a year and half ago that we were pregnant with our first child, wrapping the positive pregnancy test in a green string bow and silently placing it in his hands on the day we moved into our new home. When he looked down at the test, my beautiful, gentle, husband began to cry and muttered the words, “I’m going to be a dad?”  I could only shake my head in agreement with a proud smile.  There was jubilation then.  There was pure innocence.  There was EXCITEMENT.
This time around, we are fighting to find excitement again.  We had planned on being parents to a living baby just 9 months ago and now the prospect of expecting again is a scary adventure, one wrapped in anxiety and the fear of what if?   What if it happens again?  How will I get through this emotionally, mentally, and physically?  Will I come home from the hospital with a baby in my arms instead of a hole in my heart? I hope I do, as the doctors say there isn’t any reason to suspect that another baby will pass away due to a fluke infection like my daughter did.  I have lost my pregnancy innocence as it has been taken from me and I’m not sure how to get it back.
Learning to have faith in the process of pregnancy, to trust fate, and the possibility of a new life this time has been hard to say the least.  Over the past 15 weeks, we waited like any other expectant parents do to get past the first 12 weeks and into the ‘safe zone’ when we can allow ourselves to feel more anticipation, more joy.  But, Nick and I have learned there is no ‘safe zone’, not for us.  That still doesn’t mean that we should push away joy, ignore excitement.  This is a lesson I am learning.
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So, to lean into excitement, to connect with pregnancy again, and to have faith that the car seat waiting in the parking garage at the hospital will this time come home full instead of empty, we have started taking belly pictures.  We did this with baby No.1 starting at 8 weeks.  This time Nick suggested we do it differently.  We will keep track with monthly seasonal pictures, like a calendar of a growing baby bump. We will continue to take these baby steps forward in learning how to embrace the possibility of excitement in a new pregnancy after the loss of a previous one.  As Nick likes to say, “While all other pregnant couples are expecting, we are hoping.”  I hope that besides bringing a baby home from the hospital this time, we will also find joy and delightful anticipation in the beauty of pregnancy again.