As I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy, and as many of my fellow babyloss mama friends are coming closer to the end of theirs, we've been talking a lot about how it all feels for us. I am so so thankful to be a part of two wonderful groups of women who've experienced the loss of a child, many of which are expecting their rainbows along with me. A group of women who share most of the same emotions as I am, a group of women I can be brutally honest with and I know are going to 'get' me.
You see, a rainbow pregnancy is so very different to any other. And I know, I've had a 'normal' pregnancy. They type where everything is perfectly wonderful, where you anticipate the birth of your child with nothing but happiness and excitement.
Once you experienced the loss of a child, whether that's through a miscarriage, or a stillbirth - or unfortunately if you've experienced that more than once, pregnancy is never ever the same again. Ever. You can't just look through rose-coloured glasses anymore. Its hard to be completely hopeful, completely fearless.
Once you've experienced loss, sadly, you are often just waiting for it to happen again. Or at least wondering every single day if something is going to go wrong again.
Every little thing about a rainbow pregnancy is changed.
We might come across as not as excited as others might be about their pregnancy. Believe me, we are. We are so incredibly blessed and we thank God every single day, but we are more reserved. We are wary. Maybe its a coping mechanism, something we can't help, but often, we keep our excitement more hidden that others might, trying to protect ourselves from hurt if anything was to go wrong again.
We really don't care what gender our bub is. Honestly. People always say the cliche 'as long as its healthy', and I said that too before I lost Sebastian, but you don't realise the magnitude of that statement until your baby is not healthy, or dies suddenly. That cliche is just 'something to say' until you've really lived that. And then, it becomes all that really matters. OK, sometimes we might still have a preference for what gender we would have liked, but from most of the BL mamas I've talked to, it doesn't mean a damn thing once we find out boy or girl, if we do. Sure, for us, another little girl would have been perfect. But its not up to me, and God knows what my family is destined to be. I don't care now that its a boy, and in fact, I am so in love with this little man right now, and so excited to be welcoming another boy. Thankfully, I haven't had many disappointed comments when I've said its another boy, but I do try to make you aware that it doesn't matter, that this little boy is loved so fiercely and wholly, and wouldn't be loved anymore if he sported the opposite genitalia. However, so many of my BL friends have had those 'well-meaning' comments, and it makes us both sad and angry that others think it matters. Life is not about having a perfect amount of boys and girls in your family. If you want children, and many, its about each child being a precious gift from God, regardless of gender. Each life is such a blessing.
In my third trimester, many other things come up. A baby shower, the nursery for example. For most pregnant women, these are perfectly wonderful and happy times, but for a babyloss mum, they can be anxious times. Planning and preparing for a baby to come home is a 'normal' thing to do, but for those who have done that, and then come home with empty arms, it isn't all that simple. Not at all. You might think its perfectly innocent to ask a babyloss mum how her nursery is going or if she's having a baby shower, but you don't realise you ask a very loaded question. Loaded emotionally. I speak a little for myself here, but mostly for other babyloss mamas. We knew Seb's condition and we decided to not prepare a room for him. That was our choice. Others have had similar diagnosis and chosen to prepare in faith. And that's OK whatever you choose or chose. And so many more didn't choose anything, as their baby died unexpectedly and they were just left to pick up the pieces. For us, we chose to still believe God would perform a miracle if He so planned it, and we said on many occasions we would be overjoyed to have to put a nursery together last minute. We had a cot in the garage, so really could have had him come home if that was what was in God's plan for our family. However, we chose not to prepare a room for him. 1) because we didn't have a spare room, and to do so would have meant moving children around and rooms around. And 2) I think we chose not to, to protect ourselves from some of the emotions involved.
I have been setting up Rainby's nursery, and that other night I walked in there again (I love being in there), and looked in the cot. I put my hand on top of the quilt and mattress, empty with no baby in it yet. And I was suddenly flooded with emotions of what it would have been like for so many of my friends. Coming home to a nursery set up and waiting for a much-loved baby. But that this baby would not be able to use. My heart broke into a million pieces and I thought of how their mother's hearts broke. As I said, we didn't set up a nursery, and so we protected ourselves from those emotions of having a place for our baby that he would not use. And I understood in that moment, just how hard something that seems like a simple rite of passage for an expectant mother, is for a mother who didn't get to bring home her baby.
Mostly, I am excited and hopeful and full of faith as I set up his room. I do believe that my baby boy will come home and will use that room. But I know its not all that simple. I know the alternative. I have been keeping myself very busy in the last week or so, creating things for my baby's room, preparing for him. Nesting. I think maybe I'm trying to squash those fears a little. Keeping busy so the emotions don't have room to surface. But they will. And that's OK.
I've decided I'm not going to have a baby shower anymore. Yes, I know I was excited about having a rainbow party, but my perfectionism means I will need to 'do it properly' and I just don't have the energy. And then, maybe beneath that reason, I'm a little scared to dive too headlong into the rituals of preparing for a baby, because I know now that something could go wrong. While I do believe that every baby deserves to be showered with love and celebration, I'm hoping I can do that after he's born, after he's home and he's safe in our arms. I'm hoping there'll be plenty of time to celebrate him afterwards.
And so I hope you know that beneath my nesting and creativity and excitement for the little boy I hope to bring home in 6 weeks time, there is still fear. We are expecting him to come home, but its never far from our thoughts what could go wrong. I watch ever so closely now to make sure I feel him move every day, things I never really did with my earlier 3 babies. A thing that became all too real the night I couldn't feel Seb move anymore. And I knew that he was gone. I'm dead-scared to have to do that again. To drink cold drinks, to drink hot drinks, to shine a light on my belly - and have no response. I pray with all that I am, each night that God will keep this baby safe and allow him to come home and be cared for by us for a long long time.
This is life as a babyloss mama expecting another child. Never easy. Never without fear or doubt. Never as innocent as it should be, or once was.
But still so precious and so beautiful. And full of as much love as you could ever think there could be.