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Pregnancy After Loss: The Chance to Love Again
Thank you to Liz for writing in to share with us her story again this year. If you followed along our "One in Four" blog last October you may recall how Liz shared with us the devastating loss of her fourth pregnancy in her post "Miscarriage: We're In This Together".
At the time, I related so strongly to Liz's story, as it was so similar to my own.
Although, as we know, things can change so much in the space of a year and now I am so happy that Liz has taken the opportunity to share her new story with us one year later...
...again, the thoughts and feelings she has captured are so similar to those I have experienced this past year too and to sum it up, as Liz says "The impossible finally feels possible" (and that's certainly how I feel now too).
Liz Mannegren is the proud mother of seven beautiful babes: one in her arms, one in her belly, and five above. As a stay-at-home mom and part-time blogger from Vancouver, Canada she is on a quest to find beauty and hope amidst the everyday mess. In addition to her blog, she is currently working on writing a book in hopes of encouraging other grieving families and raising awareness about the realities of loss.
There’s a baby nestled up under my ribs. I feel her hiccups echoing against my taunt skin and her little legs kick against the side of my stomach. She’s pushed and stretched my belly into a canvas painted with white lines and red marks; and I couldn’t be happier to see each new blemish, a record of her life thus far.
This is my sixth pregnancy, my seventh baby, and the only one to make it anywhere close to her due date. To tell the doctors that we have a “history of loss” always seems like such a mild statement for such heart-wrenching pregnancy experiences. My twins arrived at thirty-one weeks: one stillborn, one struggling for breath. Two years later we were ready for another little one, and the following eighteen months were filled with first-trimester miscarriage after first-trimester miscarriage: four in total.
But today, things look different.
Today, I am optimistic about a birth that ends in tears of joy.
Today I am thirty-seven and a half weeks pregnant and the impossible finally feels possible.
We don’t always get these sorts of endings. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is secure. Those are thoughts and anxiety I’ve wrestled with this entire pregnancy. The ability to live in the present and cherish each day with this wee one, all the while knowing the struggle it’s taken to get here and the fact that at any moment we may find ourselves, once again, mourning another loss. This is the balance we walk during a pregnancy after loss; it’s the fine line between remaining realistic without giving into unnecessary fear.
And so, we agreed to try one more time.
It was February when I saw those two pink lines yet again. My heart erupted at this new chance for life and yet each doctor’s appointment was entered with a little hesitation. There are five children missing from our family and the scent of the ultrasound clinic never fails to bring back the weight of those memories. Was this the moment our lives would twist and change once again? Was this simply another delayed farewell? I wrestled with the understanding that without those good-byes, we wouldn’t be getting this hello. I watched a tiny jellybean dance around the screen and cried for the ones who weren’t there. And then, with profound gratefulness, I cried deeper still over the oh-so-beautiful heartbeat that was.
There’s something incredibly beautiful about the transformation that takes place with a new pregnancy. Not that we ever forget the ones who came before, nor does this new child replace them. But instead, she brings with her the sort of joy we forgot we could feel. She brings with her a daily reminder of the fragility of life and the astounding beauty that entails.
This pregnancy after loss is about learning to love again. We open our hearts, sometimes tentatively or cautiously. We may be afraid of getting burnt once again, afraid to love too deeply for fear of saying another good-bye. But the fear of missing out on that love is deeper still. We know how good it is to love wholeheartedly; to say that no matter how long we carried them, our hearts were inexplicably woven with theirs. The cost of love is sometimes steep but when it comes to our children, it’s always worth it.
Pregnancy after loss isn’t easy. It comes with a heavy history, the loss of naivety, and a multitude of fears and the anxiety. But it also brings with it such intense laughter and the joy. It’s the incredible delight at limbs that ripple under skin and hearts that beat to ours, and the hope that echoes across each new morning. We better understand the fullness of this gift and all it means. We carry and we love and we cherish more.
There are no guarantees here, just daily chances to love. And this time around I want to embrace them all.
This is motherhood in all its messy glory. This is our family. This is hope.
If you would like to share your story of infertility or pregnancy loss this October 2018, please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or if you would like to share your story anonymously please fill out the form on our get in touch page.
All submissions received will be shared on our blog "One in Four" throughout the month of October.
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