I knew the moment I saw my first positive pregnancy test that my life would never be the same. I was on a road trip across the country with my hubby, and with each of the six pregnancy tests I took, it became more and more clear that our lives would never be the same. I was filled with so much joy! I felt this sense of peace as I placed my hand on my abdomen knowing that was the safe little home for my baby. A tiny human my husband and I created. I knew that some pregnancies didn’t have happy endings, but most did. I knew that this baby would be fine. This baby was safe.
A short four months later, I held that tiny baby. I’d like to say that I held her in my arms, but truthfully, she fit in one hand. I held her tiny body, no longer filled with life, close to my heart for as long as I could and I knew that my life would never be the same again.
David and I each got a tattoo of Lily’s footprints on our left wrists, a bit of pain for a lifelong tribute to the daughter we never got to raise. Our bodies would never be the same again. We will always carry a piece of our tiny baby with us. Her feet were just over an inch long. Every time I look at his tattoo or mine I remember our baby girl and the love we have for her and the love we have for each other. I remember the strength of our relationship while we lived through hell. Living the unfair truth that no parent should survive their child.
Our relationship would never be the same again. David and I learned so much about unconditional love in the tragedy of that loss. When we needed to hide from the world we would turn in towards each other. Our bond was made stronger, our trust became tighter. We found strength in each other.
Deciding to try again was a hard choice to make as a team. I knew I wanted to try again, but David was scared. It wasn’t easy for him to open himself up to the idea. He saw the potential for more loss and more pain. I refused to fully accept that possibility. Time passed and we both agreed to try one last time.
The moment I saw that first positive pregnancy test, almost a year after the first positive pregnancy test I had ever had, I knew my life would never be the same again. In the days that followed, going to work and home, with each of the next four tests and the blood test from my doctor it became more and more clear that this experience was different from the last. I was filled with fear and worry. I would touch my abdomen and hope and pray that it would please be a safe home for my baby for the next nine months.
Every symptom that was different from what I had with Lily, every doctor’s appointment, every step of the way hoping and praying that this time we will have our happy ending. I am accutely aware that not all pregnancies have a happy ending, and I know that I have no idea what is in store for this baby.
Having a baby changes you forever. The painful truth is that losing a baby changes you forever. I will never have the blind optimism I had with Lily. I will continue to worry and count down the days until we reach the next milestone that makes this baby a little more safe. It’s normal to feel this way. I will continue to have to work through the walls I build to try and protect myself from the pain (I know from experience) might come. It’s normal, and it’s okay to have those walls and to struggle with them.
The painful truth is that after you lose a baby you see pregnancy differently. You don’t see the majority of safe, healthy pregnancies that have a happy ending as a guarantee. You don’t trust your body to be a safe home for this tiny life. You feel vulnerable, you’re acutely aware of the ways things can go wrong. BUT there is such an appreciation for when things go right. When you lose a baby, you appreciate things like morning sickness and bed rest in ways that someone who hasn’t experienced a loss just can’t.
When you have experienced a loss, you are changed forever. You will never forget your child. You will never forget the hope you had for that life. You will worry more about any other child you have. You will appreciate discomforts differently. You will look forward to sleepless nights and poopy diapers and laundry and crying because those are nowhere near the torture of that life lost. You will do anything in your power to keep your child safe. You may seem crazy or over protective to others, but that’s only because they have been blessed with no ability to understand – no reference point or personal experience to help them see – that you are changed.
This is your new normal, and it is okay.