It has been several months since I have written a post. Mostly I have struggled with what to say, what to write...struggling with the balance of being honest without upsetting someone.
Through this amazing journey, God continues to surprise me. There isn't a day that I don't think about Bristol. Her life left an incredible imprint on my heart and has become a huge part of who I am. I have met so many women who have experienced a loss and being able to relate to someone who truly understands my pain, has been an incredible element in the healing process. No one wants to be in this "club" but I have never been more thankful to not be alone in this group. This morning I read a post from an old college roommate- and her willingness to be completely open and honest opened the flood gate of tears. Her strength amazes me. She writes, what my heart aches to recognize and say. So I decided to let my guard down and write...
Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of excitement, happiness, and anticipation. But for me, it has been a time of anxiety, fear, and depression. Don't get me wrong- I am so thankful for the miracle of life in me and the blessing that awaits. But I no longer have the luxury of a naive pregnancy. I know there is never a "safe" zone in pregnancy- until you hold a living baby in your arms, each day is a blessing and truly a gift from God. I read that the distance between joy and heartache can be measured by a heartbeat - and how true those words ring in the heart of a mother who has lost a little one. I thought that getting past the week we learned Bristol had died would help me be more positive in this pregnancy. Though some of my anxiety did lessen after passing that milestone, a new wave of anxiety took over. I have found myself praying that if something is going to happen, to please let it happen now. I can't bear the thought of going through another loss...and have found myself putting up guards instead of opening myself to the excitement and attachment of this baby inside. It's hard to describe the emotional roller coaster of a subsequent pregnancy- the fears, the doubts, the anxiety, guilt, and depression. I do have moments of excitement, happiness, and anticipation- it just seems those are heavily balanced with the other emotions. And these aren't things people are comfortable hearing. I have been blessed to be connected to a support group of women who are in a subsequent pregnancy following a loss- and being able to share my innermost thoughts and fears, has helped me realize that I am "normal" and not alone. They understand me without judging me.
I can't count how many times someone has told me to "have faith," "be positive," "relax and enjoy the pregnancy," or "you're hurting the baby by worrying." If you've had a loss, you know how nearly impossible all those are. I am trying to have faith, to be positive, and relax. But I also know the pain of believing all will be ok, for it only to fall apart. I pray daily for this baby, for God to help me give Him all my fears and anxieties, and for the strength to have faith in HIS plan. It's hard to be honest with people about my excitement and fears. No one wants to hear a sad story, and sometimes I feel like people try to ignore what happened with Bristol, as though it didn't happen. I suppose this makes it easier to justify all the happy-exciting thoughts of having a baby...but I can't ignore her or pretend that it didn't happen. It's a part of who I am, part of our family story.
One of the hardest parts of a subsequent pregnancy is answering the questions of those who don't know our story. Everyone loves a pregnant woman- and everyone wants to share in the excitement of a new baby- but a mother who has had a loss knows how difficult this can be. You are faced with questions such as:
"Is this your first baby?"
"When are you due?"
"How many kids do you have?"
"Have you picked out a name/nursery theme/etc?"
I find myself struggling with how to answer these...I don't want to lie about Bristol, but I also don't always have the strength to get into that conversation with someone. It's a balance between being honest with someone and protecting myself, a balance between being honest and making someone uncomfortable. It's never an easy conversation and one I often find myself forcing a smile to get through it or walking away feeling sad.
We are officially 30 weeks pregnant this week and as we approach our due date (December 4th), I am reminded by how far we still have to go. So far we have a healthy baby boy and see our doctor almost weekly for appointments. We finally registered for baby items, came up with a name (Brody Inman Sparks), and have started to work on a nursery. My doctor is very supportive of helping me have a "natural" delivery with this baby- I don't want our only experience to be delivering a stillborn- and so we will be induced at 37 weeks. This is another difficult conversation- "Why are you being induced at 37 weeks?"- We are being induced because the baby is measuring big and our dr is supportive of helping us have a natural birth; we are being induced because anxiety during labor in subsequent pregnancies can negatively affect the mother and baby, so she induces all subsequent pregnancies before the 40th week.
I am excited and anxious about the birth of this baby, and am looking forward to being able to hold this little miracle in my arms. But I also know the next few months are going to be emotionally hard. Not only are we approaching the birth of this baby, we are also approaching the anniversary of Bristol's birth. I don't want the birth of this baby to overshadow Bristol's birthday. I want to celebrate the birth of this baby and recognize/remember the birth of our baby in heaven. I don't want others to make me feel guilty about recognizing that day...as a mother, I can't overlook the day my life was forever changed. I can't imagine the emotional ride we are about to embark on...but I know that it will be ok. I know that Bristol is safe in the arms of God and I know that I am living the life God has planned for me. And I know it's ok to feel what I feel...