I was a busy mom of two little boys, ages 7 and 3, and a brand new little girl. I was married to a wonderful husband, and life was grand. I was especially in love with my beautiful 2-month-old newborn. At times, I would wonder if I was loving on her more than my boys, because I just couldn’t get enough of her. And as my maternity leave drew to a close and I was about to return to work, sadness loomed, and my heart ached at the thought of having to leave her. Then, April 7 happened, and our sweet girl passed away; SIDS took her. Time froze, and life forever changed.
And then, in the midst of sorrow, grief and pain, I learned I was pregnant again. What?
During the first week after her passing, everything felt like a fog. I felt guilty and fearful and as if I wasn’t good enough to be a mom. Had I loved our baby girl too much that this was a punishment? Yet with every negative thought I felt, it was pushed away with light. The more I would want to go to darkness, the more grace was given to me.
The next week of what was to become my new life, I found myself as a mom who had milk in her breasts but with no baby to feed. I couldn’t ignore this reminder that my arms were empty and aching. I visited my midwife in order to see if she would be able to make this ache go away. I didn’t want to see my midwife’s face, since I’d recently learned that people seem to all give the same expression to every mom who has lost a child — and it’s not one that, even after all these years, I will ever get used to. Thankfully, my midwife greeted me with a hug and a smile, and I knew in that moment that she was going to be one of the people I could count on in our new journey.
As we sat there, she told me what could help with stopping my milk production, but that we needed to do a pregnancy test, just in case, because of the meds.
I thought I had heard wrong. “What?” I asked.
Here I was grieving for a child; I still didn’t know what had happened to her. All I could remember was putting her to sleep and then waking up to feed her and finding her gone. And now I was being asked to even consider the thought of another child. How could I even contemplate it? No, I couldn’t have any more children. Besides, it would be impossible, right? I stood shaking in anger and feeling myself wanting to buckle to the floor. Why did this feel like a betrayal? I could hear my husband and midwife right outside of the bathroom asking if I was OK.
“Yes,” I said — an answer that I would learn, on my new journey, would become my most-told lie.
I took a deep breath, peed on the pregnancy test, and mumbled under my breath that this was so ridiculous. I handed over the test and sat waiting to hear the next steps to stop the milk flow. I looked at my husband, who has always been my rock, and we smiled. For a split second, I thought of how not too long ago, I was there with him, smiling because we were expecting.
“It’s positive,” my midwife said. I snapped out of my daydream, looked at my her, and for a second I thought, Wow, I am losing my mind, aren’t I?
I remember saying, “What? Positive to take the meds?”
“No, your pregnancy test is positive,” she replied. I felt faint and a jumble of emotions, thinking it had to be wrong.
“Let’s do it again. Please,” I begged.
At that moment, how could I even contemplate being a mom to another baby? My sweet baby girl was gone. I didn’t even know why, and here I was being told that maybe I was being given the responsibility of another child. This had to be wrong. It just couldn’t be happening.
Another test taken produced another positive result. My husband, midwife and I sat in silence.
“Let’s do a blood test,” I said. “Perhaps all the hormones and emotions created a false positive.”
Two days of waiting passed while the blood test was sent out. Finally, the phone rang. After I hung up, I looked at my husband and told him it was positive.
In hindsight, I now know that our new baby was my grace. She was the reason I took care of myself and learned to laugh again as I grieved my sweet baby girl I lost. I know my new baby gave me the strength and love I thought I would never find again. I remember praying for it to be a boy because I didn’t know what I would do if I had another baby girl. So, of course, when it came time, the ultrasound technician said, “It’s a girl.”
Our girl who passed was born Jan. 3, 2006, and our youngest baby girl, our rainbow baby, was born at home in the most amazing birth of all my kids, Jan. 23, 2007. There are many other blessings and amazing things that have formed me in the past 10 years, but my girls have shown me the meaning of grace in the midst of grief.
For more information and advice, Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death (M.E.N.D.) has a list of infant loss organizations offering miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss support.