Pregnancy after a stillbirth is like treading water. You're moving, you're keeping your head up, but you're aware of the abyss.
We got pregnant the month after Huxley's due date. The first month we were trying. I was elated, and immediately told close friends and family. It felt like we were through something, like the cloud might lift.
At 9 weeks pregnant, in a coffee shop in another city while surrounded by colleagues, I get a call from the hospital, wanting to discuss Huxley's autopsy results. They didn't want to get into details on the phone, but mid-breakdown in a public place, they agreed to give me the gist.
The diagnosis was wrong. It wasn't a random physical fluke, it was the first physical manifestation of a very rare (and hard to test for) genetic disorder. And so the abyss appeared, and the clouds came back.
I'm 15 weeks now. Starting to show. Starting to tell the greater world, when I can't hide it behind silence and baggy shirts. And when they excitedly congratulate me, I thank them with a smile that doesn't quite connect. I cry a lot.
I took a bump picture at 8 weeks, splurging for a felt board like you see all over Instagram, but haven't taken one since. I don't think those Instagram moms have been through what I have. I love this baby and I want this baby, but am too terrified to let myself get attached, just in case. And then the guilt sets in.
When I lost Huxley, a great comfort was talking to women who'd been through losses as well. And yet, their pregnancy stories afterwards were full of light, and faith, and Instagram photos, and ended with perfect little babies. I don't know if that's how mine will end, and the constant assurances of "it will be fine" fall flat. It isn't always fine. Things don't always work out.
Instead of pregnancy reveals and weekly bump photos, I'm sending samples to faraway labs, and going for test, after test. And most of all, I'm waiting. I'm waiting for someone to tell me my baby will be okay, because then maybe I'll feel okay too.
So, if this your experience too, I see you, and I'm talking to you as much as I'm talking to myself. This feeling is allowed. This fear is allowed. Just because you feel the abyss doesn't mean you're creating it. Just because you're scared of getting attached doesn't mean you're not mothering as best you can. No one can tell you "it" will be okay. But you will be.