So, I have news: nearly 3 years since our third child, Poppy, died six months into my pregnancy, we’re overjoyed to be pregnant again. I’m now 18 weeks – over the ‘hard’ first trimester – but whilst the tiredness and nausea has passed, the uncertainty hasn’t. Not that I expected it to; my naivety is gone, there’s no ‘safe stage’ and I won’t truly relax until I hold our baby. But there are 3 things about pregnancy after loss that have surprised me:
1. there is calm
At the centre of my grief there’s always been a deep-rooted desire to conceive again, but within that was a knot of guilt, shame, fear and anxiety. I worried if I fell pregnant, these emotions would override everything. That was then. Its taken two long years to conceive. Two years in which I suffered and overcame depression, had grief counselling, put my career as an author on hold and entirely changed my perspective, pace and focus. As hard as it was, I’ve realised that I needed that time to come to terms with life without Poppy – or another baby; to stop obsessing with what-ifs; to be relaxed, happy, at peace. Because that’s exactly how I feel now: calm and peaceful but also, occasionally, fat and fed-up. Turns out no matter how grateful you are to be pregnant, you can still feel that, too.
2. how happy people are for us
When we finally conceived, I was anxious that our families would bypass happiness and hope for worry. I decided we wouldn’t share our news until we could reassure them as much as possible that everything was ok. This lead to an awkward weekend with my mum, ten weeks into my pregnancy, feeling exhausted and hormonal. When I eventually broke down and told her, she was over the moon. I had unfairly projected my own deep-rooted fears on her and have been bolstered by the love, support and positivity from our family and friends ever since.
3. this baby would make Poppy more present (and prescient)
Poppy helped our two children learn about loss at a young age. It was incredibly hard for us all, but this pregnancy has transformed the once painful Poppy-sized space in our family into a positive place that she’ll forever fill. She’s also taught me that if I’m strong enough to get through (not over, never over) this, I can get through anything. I’ll always carry the pain, but I now know it’s also possible to be carried by positivity. Both Poppy and this baby will always be reminders of that.