Bonding After Multiple Loss
After the loss of Max through an ectopic pregnancy in 2009 I had a great deal of anxiety when it came to conceiving again. Part of it was that I wanted to wait to pay respect to the healthy baby that had to be terminated due to it’s location and part of me was operating out of a place of fear. Fear that it would happen again, fear that God wouldn’t show up the way I expected him to, and the fear that I would feel stupid for trying to bond with the baby so early. See, in even in those early weeks of his life in the womb I was talking to him and created this little personality for him prior to even looking into his eyes.
Then, like clockwork, I was pregnant again that following September. Part of my heart believed that I wouldn’t walk down that road again and part of me told myself “don’t get too emotionally attached, nothing is guaranteed, you know this.” Then exactly 1 year later to the date I lost Ethan due to his heart stopping. Part of me was devastated all over again, but part of me felt spared of the guilt that I had with Max and part of me was relieved because I kept an arms length, I kept my heart safe from the overwhelming amount of emotions. You know those emotions that are so raw and heartbreaking that you just want to scream this can’t be real, this can’t be YOUR life, but you don’t because if you do “something’s not right” or in someone else’s eyes you might “need mental help”.
No one ever discusses the aftermath - those lonely nights, the guilt, the anger, or the feelings of feeling like less of a woman. I can’t say I was a mess so much after the loss of Ethan, but man oh man I was an emotional and spiritual mess with my first loss. My God, didn’t show up…my body royally screwed up…my fertility changed…if I did nothing wrong, why did I lose? All statements that were on rotation on a daily base in my head.
When I was pregnant with Ellie after two losses it was emotionally scary. I couldn’t get excited, I didn’t want to tell anyone because, well, if I lost again, I would just be THE woman who looses babies, who can’t keep them…and people would judge. I even remember a few days before Christmas when we got confirmation that she was “viable” (yes, you start talking with those terms after a while and after so many losses). I went and photoshopped a Christmas hat on her and sent it to my Mom and even her response was “don’t get too attached, you’re not clear yet”. I knew then that I couldn’t share this, I knew that even those around me knew to keep an arms length. As we walked further into the pregnancy it got a little easier to get excited, but even when I delivered her and it was silent I vividly remember telling Jeremy to check on her to make sure she’s alive because I couldn’t do it if something was wrong. My heart was so fragile back then that a few days later when I walked the death of my hospital roommate those emotions that I had kept hidden came back, but this time didn’t settle…they came out and man was it ugly, but as I look back on it pregnancy loss and the loss of someone you do life with is also ugly. It hurts, it leaves a scar and can often replay in your head when you least expect it.
When Jeremy and I drove to the hospital in September of 2013 I was scared - scared that my marriage could not handle another loss, that my relationship with God couldn’t handle another loss and more so I didn’t know if I could handle another loss, especially an ectopic. When we found out it was my worst fear another ectopic pregnancy, I told myself “we will do this better”. Not that you can do loss any better, but I recognized the signs I knew when I needed to seek help and I knew that this time God and I were having long and drawn out talks if need be. The loss of Samson was NOT easy, especially with Jeremy leaving not long after my loss, but through the love, grace and mercy of God I made it out of that dark season with a better relationship with him, a better marriage and I’ve become a better version of me.
Let’s fast forward, 20 months…those 20 months were filled with healing and learning to how to truly navigate loss. On the 615th day after the loss of Samson we find out that I was expecting. We were unbelievably surprised, but also unbelievably nerve wracked. We let our close friends know as they had prayed (and prayed hard for God’s will in our next baby) the last 20 months with us, but that was it. They knew how scared I was, but they also knew that the desire that God had placed in my heart to hold another baby again wouldn’t return null and void. As I navigate this season, it’s been hard to break those walls down that have been built to keep me emotionally safe and some of my sweet friends have caught the moments of straight fear I have about caring this baby to 35 weeks. Since I am aware of it and my two doctors have picked up on it, they have provided us moments where we just sit and bask in watching the heart beat - it's provided so much peace. In my heart, I have 1 name for this baby and as of today I cannot utter it without the shedding of ugly tears. Partially because of the sting of loss and partially because of things God is walking me through emotionally as he paints his story of healing in my heart and in our lives as a family. He’s brought us this far, and he will not leave us, this I know. But I've found that bonding with a baby isn’t easy after multiple pregnancy loss, it's hard and it’s one of the many things in this pregnancy that I am having to surrender to him daily saying “Lord, I can’t, help me” and through his help I've slowly been able to think towards the future with this baby and start to envision what our family will look like.