This post is the first of three trimester entries I have written during my second pregnancy. It's from February, during my first trimester. The posts that will follow in the next two days are from my second and now third trimesters, respectively. For my fellow pregnancy-after-loss parents – current, future and previous – in hopeful solidarity.
On December 28, when I called my parents to share the happy news of this second pregnancy, this is how I phrased it: "The test was positive."
I couldn't bring myself to say "I'm pregnant"; it seemed premature. I was, as I told good friends a few days later as explanation for skipping New Year's Eve bubbly, about half-a-second pregnant. Joe and I found out our happy news so early, and the first trimester of pregnancy can seem so tentative – and so long.
We had planned to give this little one the prenatal nickname Punkin (Nate's was Blueberry), in a nod to the second, single pumpkin that I spotted growing in our backyard a couple of weeks after Nate passed. That pumpkin was a symbol of hope and promise to me. But in looking at those first very early ultrasounds of this tiny, tiny new life in January, I was reluctant to attach the planned moniker. I couldn't bear the thought that we could lose our Punkin, too. And so the nickname Little One remains.
I find that the mental cautions I have with this pregnancy are similar to those I had early on with Nate, but everything's enhanced a bit. When you experience a pregnancy loss or an early infant death, you tend to – through various channels – come across a multitude of other stories about loss. You realize how large the community is. And while it's always comforting to hear others' subsequent stories of hope, the loss stories themselves and the circumstances of them stick with you, too. I feel like I'm watching the calendar for other people's milestones – parents who suffered losses at 8 weeks, 12, 14, and far beyond.
I worry about things I can control. I worry about doing something wrong, even though I follow all of my physicians' instructions and err on the side of caution more than I ever have in my life. I worry about what a back twinge means. I get nervous when I go to the bathroom. I'm concerned if I'm not feeling nauseated. Where is the faith I profess? –I sometimes find myself asking. My answer's always the same: It's not God I don't trust; it's me.
To be sure, I am eager to publicly share the very happy news of this pregnancy. I know how many people will be so happy for us, and I feel so grateful for that. The friends and family we've already told are very happy for us, and we are incredibly glad, too. I hope that some of my fear will subside in a few weeks, when I reach my second trimester. The only thing to do, as always, is to take each day as it comes. I have monthly doctor's appointments scheduled through April, but when the receptionist suggested making my appointment for May, I declined. Too far out. I already feel like I’m pushing my luck with April. Please, let me get to and through March.
Wonderful people I know who are also on the journey of pregnancy after loss have encouraged me to embrace moments of joy, acknowledging what a roller-coaster this experience is. I think I'll get there. I bought a board book for Nate's little brother or sister when we were in San Francisco earlier this month. I look forward to being big, boldly, unapologetically pregnant. I look forward to the kicks and the nighttime dance parties, though I recognize that I'll probably be more anxious about kick-counting this time around.
Pregnancy-after-loss support sites are helpful in saying it's OK to be scared. Before I became pregnant this time, the thought occurred that it would only get harder from here. But that was OK. Several months after I had that thought (and with even more months to go in my pregnancy), I can affirm already that yeah, it is harder. But it is *better*. And what is parenthood if not that?
• Christine LaFave Grace works as an editor and writer.
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