It’s been one year.
One year since I put my hand over my womb and silently sent you my love, my final goodbye, as they wheeled me into the surgery room.
One year since a regular checkup that turned into one of my worst nightmares.
One year since we couldn’t pick up the sound of your precious heart beating anymore.
One year . . . and I still miss you, sweet girl. I still wonder what color of eyes you had and what your laughter would have sounded like.
And I feel like I have to whisper all of this and look over my shoulder while I admit it. I feel like I can’t tell anyone.
I feel so guilty. Guilty that I miss you . . . because your little brother now grows in the same spot you once you had.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m beyond grateful that he is healthy, to be blessed with another son, to see his toes wiggling and his arms moving in every ultrasound. I’m so thankful I was able to get pregnant and make it through the first trimester again. I breathe a huge sigh of relief after every single appointment because I always feel like I’m waiting for that moment that happened with you. Every single time I hear his heart through the doppler or feel him kick, my body remembers that it is OK to relax and breathe again.
But I still miss you, my baby girl.
There is such a strange conflict of emotions that comes with being pregnant after losing a baby.
Such as the moment when your brother’s existence announced itself with those two little lines. I felt something I never expected. It wasn’t excitement like I experienced with you. I felt a wave of fear creep over my body and a chokehold of anxiety around my neck. I was hesitant. Guarded.
Or like the moment when the nurse called and told me that your brother was a little man. My heart didn’t completely leap like I was expecting it should. Instead, it was a bittersweet sting. Bits and pieces of my heart strangely longed for you, even while instantly loving him.
And I felt so guilty for that involuntary reaction. I felt it was wrong that my heart still ached to know you.
This constant anxiety, shame, and fears—fears I know I shouldn’t have, but still do—have been crippling. I work daily to fight it, to overcome it, and to keep it in check. I’ve barely spoken about it. I pretend I’m doing better than I actually am.
I feel so ashamed to admit that I still love you, still think about you, and still wonder why it had to happen like it did.
I’m afraid to admit and talk about how the anxiety of losing your brother, like how we lost you, it eating away at the happiness of this pregnancy.
At least, that’s how I felt until now.
Until I realized that it is OK for a momma’s heart to bleed, even while it celebrates.
It is OK for a mother to mourn the loss of one child, even while still loving the ones that do breathe and exist.
It is OK for a mother to grieve the child she never knew, even while carrying the one that would have never have come to be otherwise.
It is OK. It is part of what makes us mothers. We love every single one of our children, equally and regardless. And when something happens to one of them that we can’t understand, it is OK to acknowledge our feelings.
I think we sometimes wrongly trick ourselves into believing that, in order to accept something that was painful and hand it over to God, we also must deny the existence of any sadness that might still follow. To ignore it. To hide from it. To pretend we are fine, even when we are not. And I believe that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Becoming pregnant again made me realize this. It reopened old wounds that hadn’t healed correctly and revealed pain that I had been in denial of.
It made me take off that old, inadequate bandage I had thrown on those wounds and instead, cry out for better healing from Someone stronger than myself.
And when I did, I felt what it was like to be held, to have my tears fall and, not wiped away, but simply soothed and told:
“It is OK, momma. It is OK.”
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