Recently, a friend of mine wrote me to ask a simple question with a not so simple answer.
How did you get through the first trimester of your pregnancy?
What she meant, of course, is how did I avoid losing my mind from fear and anxiety after the loss of my twin pregnancy.
I told her the truth: I wasn’t calm. I had nightmares almost every night for the first eight weeks. I spent my days battling a sense of hopelessness. I would wake and dread walking into the bathroom. I just knew that today would be the day I’d see that swipe of red, that spot, the sign that meant that this dream, too, would come crashing down around me.
Being pregnant with a “rainbow baby” is an altogether different experience from simply being pregnant. My friend was struggling with this, as did I. So much of my anxiety was spent grieving the pregnancy before and the innocence I’d lost because of it.
No longer did I simply expect things to go right. No longer did I believe that these things wouldn’t happen to me. And, I was angry — no, LIVID — that I felt like this.
The problem with a rainbow pregnancy is that you never see it close up. You never know at the time that this is the one. Only looking back over the landscape of your life through those nine months are you able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Rainbow pregnancies are an exercise in faith. And, I think we’ve established that I’m not particularly good on that front.
So, no, I wasn’t calm or even joyful. I was terrified. With each week that passed and as we grew closer to telling our families (We waited until 15 weeks!), I felt more and more despondent. The longer the pregnancy went on, the more devastated I’d be and I knew it. I’d been there before.
Of course, we made it to the second trimester and beyond. With each milestone, I’d tell myself, “Okay, Jasmine… You can BREATHE!”
But, I never really did.
Well, I did and I didn’t. My mantra all those months was that my beautiful child was worth my going out on a limb of hope.
I painted the colors of Elliott’s rainbow with each flicker of hope, with the fleeting moments that made me dig deep to trust the journey instead of getting ahead of myself to cushion a potential loss.
There is nothing — not one thing — you can do to prepare for a loss. Whether it happens at 13 weeks or even at four, it is crushing and you will grieve all the moments that were and those that will never be.
Being a mama requires intense bravery. For me, I found this even before the birth of my beautiful boy. It is a courageous act to love something so fragile. What I know now is that this feeling, this fear, never really goes away.
Pregnancy is a fragile, beautiful experience that prepares you for an even more fragile and beautiful experience: motherhood.
Give yourself the permission to hope.
That’s the advice I offered her, and it’s a pill I need to swallow myself. After so many years of infertility, I’ve already found myself fearing that a second child won’t be possible.
I tell myself to be grateful for what I have, and I am! But, also? I’m still chasing the dream I’ve always had, the one that began seven years ago when we started trying for a baby. Kids in the yard. Kids with an S.
Which brings me back to hope. Hope, faith… all the touchy feely ones that ask you to trust in the pot of gold you can’t see? Yeah, I hate those.
But, there it is. Hope. Permission granted.