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I’m not attached to my rainbow baby. There, I said it.

It’s a harsh reality to admit and it’s a comment that is sure to get a few gasps, but it’s the honest truth. And I know I’m not alone—it’s a feeling that many of us moms who have lost children understand.

As I look at this ultrasound picture, my belly growing by the day, I can’t help but feel a pang of guilt as I admit this. I was deeply attached to my unborn children in my previous pregnancy, when the excitement of becoming a mother for the first time was new and untarnished.

But the loss of a child changes you forever and I find myself figuring out ways to protect my heart.

The thought of losing this child is always on my mind with this pregnancy. I worry when I don’t feel her kick. I feel anxiety when I go weeks without a doctor’s visit. And I shrug off the compliments from strangers about my baby on the way.

The reason? This is my coping mechanism. This is how I survive each day of this pregnancy after loss. It’s not that I don’t love this child any less. I just can’t bear the thought of getting my hopes up, only to be crushed if tragedy strikes again.

Here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter if we reach certain milestones, if we make it to full-term. It doesn’t matter if people tell us to have faith, to believe that God will guide us through. There is no safe zone when it comes to pregnancy after loss. We have already been through a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s completely normal to find ways to get through pregnancy after loss.

Just because you are welcoming a new baby into this world doesn’t mean that the grief and heartache of your previous losses go away. It’s something that only people who have gone through an unfathomable loss can truly understand.

But as the weeks pass by, I find a glimmer of hope creeping deep within me. I find little bursts of excitement as my husband and daughter feel the baby kick for the first time. And I find myself feeling more optimistic as I get closer to welcoming this baby into the world.

The loss of two of my children may have taken my innocence, but the hope outweighs the pain. This baby is already so loved, and my protective shield is slowly coming down with each passing week.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

You may also like:

A Rainbow Baby Helps Heal a Broken Heart, but the Scars of the Loss Remain

Dear Rainbow Baby, You Saved Me

This is the Reality of High-Risk Pregnancy

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Pregnancy After Loss

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Stacey Skrysak

Stacey Skrysak is a local television news anchor in Illinois, but her proudest role is becoming a mom after years of infertility. Stacey is mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two angels. Even though two of her children were only alive for a short time, her triplets have touched thousands of people around the world. Through her blog, Stacey has become a voice for infertility, premature birth and child loss. These days, she sprinkles in the trials and tribulations of raising a daughter, who was once nicknamed “The Diva of the Nicu.”

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