Not too long ago our seemingly healthy pregnancy came to a surprising and terribly sad end somewhere near our second trimester. Now, before you worry about feeling too many sad feelings as you read this, my message isn’t one of only pain, though there is a place for that. Today I want to talk about something different, and I can assure you that there is something wonderful and meaningful that every woman who has carried a baby in her belly can relate to. My message is this: whether you’ve brought home a roly poly full term baby from the hospital or have been faced with the grief and sadness of having to say goodbye too early, your pregnancy was beautiful and we won’t forget that.
As a woman who didn’t know if she’d be able to conceive after having cancer, I felt amazed by what my body was capable of. Treatments and losing a gland vital to reproduction left us hoping and wondering if a biological baby would ever be possible. Add to that the fact that I turned 36…the age when words like geriatrics and elderly officially show up on your charts. Yes. Elderly. It’s ridiculous. I knew there was a chance, but we had no idea how long it would take. The fact that I was able to conceive and carry our child for any amount of time quickly became a beautiful thing.
It wasn’t long before I became 100% the usual pregnant me; moody, gaggy and tired, all while not being able to stand the smell of anything or anyone I came in contact with. I tend to feel lonely during the first trimester, teeter tottering between wanting others to know and being afraid to tell them. I’m one of those introverts who really doesn’t like small talk, so if I’m holding a secret like this I’d much rather not see people. I spent a lot of time at home sleeping and avoiding situations where I’d have to turn down a glass of wine. Note: I never turn down a glass of wine unless I’m pregnant. We were happy and excited. It was a beautiful, kind of messy time.
I like being pregnant, but the truth is I usually feel pretty scared. I worry a lot and Google a lot and reason my way through concerns from one online thread to another, seeking courage and peace like a searchlight in the night sky. Sometimes it seemed like my fear was so strong it would just shut down my baby factory, bringing my pregnancy to a tumbling end, though I know pregnancies end for reasons far more complex than a mama’s [very normal] anxious heart. It’s a beautiful dance that mothers make up, just as our mothers did and our mother’s mothers did; to find peace when your heart loves so deeply a little one we’re yet to lay eyes on.
Especially when we don’t know what the future holds.
I didn’t know what the future held when I went in for a routine appointment the other day. What seemed like a rather normal search for our little one’s heartbeat with the doppler slow motioned into worry and eventually a very sad reality when the ultrasonographer couldn’t find our baby’s heartbeat anymore. A few minutes before the moment of sadness I had an inkling that something might be wrong, despite the strong heartbeat our babe had before. I think our own hearts sometimes prepare us for these moments and that can be an incredible thing. Somehow nature slips into our spiritual peace of mind and works together for our good. My mind knew, but a mother’s heart also knows not to give up hope.
So, when my midwife’s eyes filled with tears as we looked at a tiny baby without a heartbeat and she told me she was so sorry, I was in shock, yet at peace. She held me in her arms like a mother would and told me I didn’t need to be brave despite me insisting I try. There was beauty in that dark, sorrow-filled room because I wasn’t ready to be brave yet. I just needed to be held. My mind and body and heart were catapulted into the place no mother wants to find herself. It’s a dark and scary place as you may know, but there was goodness in that room as my midwife shared her motherly strength with me.
Anyone who has been there knows that I needed it.
Upon realizing that we’d be saying goodbye to our baby, I worried about many things, but one worry wouldn’t leave. Every bit of my pregnancy has been beautiful…what if no one remembers my child as being a part of something so amazing? What if they only remember the sadness of saying goodbye? Even now, as I write with a cramping belly preparing to release our child, I know that this pregnancy is no less worthy of the love and acknowledgement as big bellied mamas and full term babies get. Sometimes pregnancies end early and this is a very sad reality that many women and men face. Our grief and sorrow are very real, but our pregnancies and our babies are a part of something truly beautiful.
Remember the way you carefully looked up each food before you ate it to make sure it was safe? And obsessively studied every potential toxin in your environment to keep your babe healthy? The way you eased through morning sickness and coaxed your queasy tummy into eating something remotely healthy despite each gag between bites? And the way you made sure you slept more and researched more and became more present with your body? Remember when wine started to sound disgusting?
And then the way you carried the extra weight of breasts that never ended up providing for your child and the contractions or surgeries that you gracefully faced despite the heartache and strength they demanded of you? There was purpose in every bit of that. You did the right thing each, beautiful step of the way.
The beauty of motherhood took over you and you did an amazing job, mama. Even if you just spent the entire duration of your pregnancy with no one other than your partner knowing of the little miracle you held within you, you were absolutely glowing. Goodness, you were amazing.
Love yourself, for we nurtured these little ones with all that we had, just as our mothers did, and our mothers’ mothers did. And heaven knows if love were enough we’d have them with us still. It’s a beautiful thing our bodies can do and we ought to celebrate the goodness and beauty that comes in being a part of our babies’ stories no matter how long or short they are physically with us. Don’t be afraid to celebrate and share the beautiful journey your body has been on, for you did an amazing job.
I celebrate you as a mother. Even if it’s intertwined with bits of sadness and sorrow, your pregnancy and your baby will always be remembered as something beautiful. What will you remember as the most beautiful part of your pregnancy? I would love to hear all about it!