My Experience With Pregnancy After Loss – A Reflection on the Last 8 months

photo(61)Lately it has been much harder than normal to sit down and organize my thoughts into a blog post. I can hardly believe we are in the final stretch of this pregnancy. The last 8 months have seemed like a blur in many ways. I have had so many things running through my heart, and my mind has been scattered much of the time. When I try to sit and reflect, I recognize consistent patterns of inconsistencies. :-) A big mass of conflicting emotions and thoughts.

I feel like I just have my eyes on September 2, and I am running(or waddling), struggling, striving to just GET there. To get to labor and delivery, have my baby alive and crying, and bring him/her home with me.

It might seem strange to the average mom, but sometimes this feels like a feat as large as climbing Mt. Everest. I have to remind myself that everyday, hundreds of women around the world are pregnant and give birth to living babies. It’s not so difficult. But my heart doesn’t quite understand. I wanted to share a few thoughts on what pregnancy after loss has been like for me…

Pregnancy after loss for me has been:

…Unspeakable joy for the opportunity to carry another child and continuing grief for the life I will never get to know. It is hard to explain the confusing, powerful, assortment of emotions that have been my constant companion since the beginning of this year. I have been stretched and challenged by this conflicting mix daily over the last eight months.

photo(60)…Days of smiling to the kicks of life in my belly and days weeping at the grave of my second born. Having a baby after the death of a baby is really such a gift. There is a renewed sense of hope in a way. And yet, there is this lingering (even deepened) sense of emptiness knowing that nothing will ever fill the hole left by my little Esther’s absence.

… A combination of moments that take my breathe away – like hearing the heartbeat for the first, second, third time – and moments that I literally can’t breath – like laying on the table while they try to assess and re-assess the health of my baby’s organs. I know pregnancy can always be a roller coaster, but the stakes just seem so much higher now. The ups are so high, and the downs are very low.

…Heart melting moments of seeing Kyla attach to this baby, and heart stabbing moments realizing what she has already missed. It thrills me to see Kyla run up and give my belly kisses, tell the baby how much she loves him/her, and how she will see them soon. Her fascination with babies and excitement over having this little brother or sister is so precious. Yet she should already have a little sister just turning one. I still feel my heart skip a beat every time she says, “Our baby Esther is in heaven” or “I want to go see Esther’s grave. I miss her.” How can a mommy heart fully understand? What beauty and yet what pain interlaced.

…Much easier physically, yet much more difficult emotionally. The uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy just really haven’t bothered me too much this time. I’m pretty sure I feel about the same, I’m just looking at it very differently. When my feet swell, all I can do is waddle, and bouts of sleeplessness set in, it seems so much easier to take it in stride. Instead of being concerned about weight gain, unsightly veins, or stretch marks, I just think about that little heart beating inside of me and these things all seem like such small prices to pay. Yet the emotional stress has been much greater this time around. I wish I didn’t know everything that could go wrong. I miss that innocence.

photo(62)…Preparing baby things while baby things still represent deep pain to me. This may be hard to understand, but let me explain. After losing Esther, seeing babies and baby things brought fresh pain to my heart. Every time I would walk by baby girl clothes, I would feel the ache. Sometimes I would completely ignore the baby department, and sometimes I would browse through, imagining what she would look like in the soft pink outfits. Every single time I have gone to buy something for this baby, I have found myself in an emotional war zone that many times has led to a tearful breakdown. Since baby stuff has been a “trigger” for this grief, getting ready for another baby has been a constant emotional trigger. I’m thankful for the patience of my hubby as he has lovingly helping me walk through this. You don’t want to know how many trips to a store or website it took me before I finally bought some baby clothes for this little one. ;-)

…Exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I can hardly imagine how wonderful it will be to have another baby in our home! Sometimes I feel like I could burst from the excitement. And yet I have hardly known this kind of fear before. I feel like I have to slay dragons every day. My heart and mind remember the trauma so intimately. I know that most people probably do not feel inclined to do kick counts in the middle of the night, but well, most people probably haven’t given birth to a stillborn baby either. Sometimes I have to tell myself to get a grip. This journey has required me to hold onto my God like never before. I often feel like a toddler holding onto their daddy for dear life. I am thankful for the steadfast nature of my Father God that has upheld me day by day.

photo(63)…Beautiful. I have been able to appreciate the wonder of this process like I never could otherwise. Every flutter, every kick, every ultrasound photo has inspired in me such an awe for the beauty of created life in the womb. How special to get to experience the fullness of this.

…Humbling. I have a very Type A personality. I like to be in control and know what is going on. This whole pregnancy I have felt pretty out of control, out of my league, and unable to figure things out myself. I have felt like my heart is sitting out in the open. I’ve realize that I am really unable to protect myself or my child. I have needed more support. And most of all, I have had to find a hiding place inside my Jesus to get through each day.

So many times this process has seemed like too much for my heart to bear…the waiting, the uncertainty, the what ifs. Yet God has upheld me day by day. He is so faithful. In closing, wanted to share a song that has meant a lot to me in the last few days:

You are For Me

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

We are now 29 days away from the estimated arrival!  SO CLOSE!!! Thanks for your continued prayers. Pretty soon, I’ll be introducing a new member of our family! :)

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2 Due Dates – 1 Birthday

Waller Family HeartThe last days of July hold special significance in our home. This is when we remember two baby due dates, but only celebrate one birthday. What a bittersweet time. Kyla’s due date was July 30 and she was born on July 21, 2011. Esther’s due date was July 28, but she went to heaven on February 15, 2013.

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since we crossed this milestone for the first time. Esther would be turning one.

This week represents both the beginning of one dream – becoming a mother to my first baby, and the death of another dream – losing my second baby before she even took a breath.

I have found myself pondering many “what ifs” the last few days. I wonder if Esther would be walking yet. I wonder if we would have had a joint birthday party for the sisters. I wonder how Kyla would be different had she spent the last year with her younger sibling. I wonder who Esther would look like. But like so many times before, WHAT IS slapped me in the face.

There is only one birthday party this week. One cake. One celebration. One set of arms wrapping around mommy’s neck. One smiling face…Only one little girl here.

It hit me while I was at Hobby Lobby picking up tablecloths for Kyla’s party and I saw this:

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How I wish I was picking these up too.

 

It hit me when we were driving out of town for a day and four different times, Kyla saw a cemetery and said, “Mommy look, Esther’s grave.”

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How I wish my girls were making memories together instead.

 

It hit me when we set up the picnic table and only had one occupant.

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How I wish another child was grinning from the other bench.

 

It hit me when I was wrapping gifts for Kyla and packing a basket in memory of Esther.

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How I wish they were both in my arms.

 

But here we are in this familiar place again – feeling helpless, hurt, and heartbroken as parents.

And yet at the same time we have such joy, thankfulness, and incredible love in our hearts for our girls – whether in heaven or on earth.

I am so proud of both my daughters and thankful God chose me to be their mommy. That will never change.

One week ago we watched Kyla blow out her birthday candles. And today, we will take our “Esther’s Hope” memory basket to the hospital and decorate her grave with flowers. This year as we celebrate each of their precious lives in different ways, I am reminded that reality hurts – but the painful realities of this life are so very temporary for those belonging to Jesus. The joy will soon outweigh all of the pain.

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…

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31 Weeks! An update on “London Baby”

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15 Weeks 2 Days – Time for Maternity Clothes!

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This week, I officially started needing maternity clothes! Today I am 15 weeks, 2 days along. I’ve never had a noticeable baby bump this early before, but I guess by the third time, it pops out much sooner! This milestone is bittersweet to me. During my pregnancy with Kyla, I wasn’t too thrilled with the [...]

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