What I’m about to share is probably the most personal thing I have shared to date. Some people are going to be shocked that I think this is more personal than other things I’ve shared, but to me, it is. It’s not easy to admit fears I have about the baby I’m currently expecting to thousands of people. These fears and concerns are very real to me, and sometimes I feel like a bad mother already for having them. I also think of our child reading this one day and thinking, “My mother didn’t want me.” However, I have reached a point where I feel it is absolutely necessary to share. First, because I’m getting upset with people I dearly love. Second, when I talk to other grieving mothers that are also expecting again, they feel the same way, upset and misunderstood. Before anyone assumes that I am talking about them, please know that almost every family member has said these things to me so you are not alone, nor am I upset with you. Okay, now that I have covered all my bases and have maybe lessened the blow I’m about to deliver, I will begin.
Nash was my first child. The first baby I conceived and carried. The first baby I felt kick. The first heartbeat I heard other than mine coming from within me. The first baby I delivered. The first little person I looked at and searched their face for similarities to me. The first baby I held all day with that admiration every mother has. I have looked at him a thousand times and thought, “Wow, I made you. I have a son.” He was the first baby I woke for in the middle of the night when I heard him cry. The first baby I rocked to sleep at three in the morning, barely awake myself. The first newborn I have ever bathed. The first baby that made me understand a mother’s love. The baby I’m expecting now will be my second for all of these things. Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets under my skin more than when family and friends tell me I will love this baby the same as Nash, and that they felt the same way with their second child. The first part of that sentence doesn’t bother me as much…I know I will love this baby the same, I absolutely know that. The second part, “I felt the same way about my second child,” is the thing that gets me. First of all people that have said this to me still have their first, so they couldn’t possibly understand. Sometimes they will add to this by saying that it’s a natural feeling that all mothers have about their second child. Fathers have even said this to me when I have voiced my concerns. It’s then that I know not only are they not understanding what I am saying, but also they are not listening to what I am saying either.
Naturally, every mother has doubts about loving their second child as much as the first. I think that subject has been covered for hundreds of years now, and all moms know that these feelings are normal and will be put to rest when they see their second baby. My fears are very different than that average second time mom feeling. My baby died. When this baby kicks, I think of Nash. When I see an ultrasound, I think of Nash’s ultrasound. When I look at my stretch marks, I know that they are from a baby who is no longer here, scars that prove he was here when I have nothing to show for it in my arms. I fear that when my belly grows, I won’t know which scars are from Nash and which ones are from my new baby. I hate that; I love my stretch marks now, they are physical proof that Nash was here. What if I can’t decipher which ones are from him? It upsets me. I have even thought of asking my doctor to make a separate incision for this baby when she does the c section so I know which one is from Nash. When I go to my OB appointments, it reminds me of going there when I was pregnant with Nash. Now when I go in, people don’t ask me about the baby I just had, they know he is gone. They talk about the one I’m carrying now. It feels like the first baby when it should be my second. I should be that mother complaining as I’m carrying a nine-month-old baby around while being three months pregnant. If I’m feeling this way now, how do you think I’m going to feel when the baby gets here? When I hold him or her, I will think of Nash. When I kiss him or her, I will think of Nash. When he or she cries in the middle of the night, I will hear Nash. When he or she crawls, it will be something Nash never got to do. The same when he or she walks. Those happy moments will be painful for me as well. Can you remember your baby’s first steps, how excited that made you, how proud you were? I will have those same feelings but also sadness that I never saw Nash walk. Every achievement this baby attains will be one more than Nash.
Parents have said to me before that every baby is different. They all have different personalities. First of all, it sucks to hear that this baby will be nothing like Nash. I also know this to be correct, yet I have heard every mother say that their second baby does something similar to their first, whether it be a facial expression or a laugh. I will love that and it will hurt me all at the same time. Can you imagine losing a baby, and a little over a year later hearing a baby cry at night, and you look and it’s your new baby not the one that’s gone? Do I have worries that I will resent this baby? Yes, in some ways I already do. Do I worry that having this baby will be painful? Yes. Do I also think it will be healing? Of course. People don’t understand that this isn’t just doubts of loving a second child. This is doubting loving a second child after you lost the first. My friend who lost her baby and is currently pregnant has an older child and she is having the same feelings as me. It’s not about a second child, it’s about having a baby after you lost one. There is a big difference there. Words of advice that are harsh…do not, under any circumstance, tell me that what I am feeling is normal for every second time mother. That I will love this baby the same. If you did not lose a baby yourself, you can not say that to me. Frankly, you have no idea. This is one of those situations where I vent and you listen. Can you say, “I think you will surprise yourself?” Yes. Todd says that all the time and I love it. But you cannot promise me I will feel that way. You can also, under no circumstances, compare it to every second time mother’s feelings. This is very different people. I have had family members laugh while telling me, “Oh Shelly, you will see.” Almost dismissing my feelings like they are absurd. Well, what if this baby is born and just looking at him or her is so incredibly painful that I can’t even hold him or her? You do not know how I will feel and neither do I, so please don’t pretend to know.
On another note, when I was pregnant with Nash I didn’t care if it was a boy or girl, I just wanted him or her to be healthy. That’s all that mattered. When I would see people crying because they were having a girl when they wanted a boy or vice versa, I would get upset. I thought it was a horrible attitude to have. You should be thankful that your baby is healthy. Once I had Nash, I admit that I wanted a little girl. I wanted to see Todd with a little girl now that we had our boy. I feel very differently now. I 100% want a boy. It feels awful to say that out loud, to have a preference when I have hated that about people for so long. I confided in a close family member once and told them this. They said, “You know I had two girls and you would think I wanted a boy, but I was good having another girl. You will see you won’t care either way.” I was mad. I thought to myself that this is totally different. What if both of your daughters died? I bet everything I own that you would want a girl for sure the third time. You were a father to daughters and now they are gone. Now they are a story you tell, a memory you share. What you have to understand is that I was a mother to a boy and now I’m not. I envisioned little league games and football games. I pictured him hunting with his dad and grandpa. When he was born, I was promised a son for life. I no longer have that. I want it back. I fear that by saying this, people will misunderstand and think I want to replace Nash. That is not true and not possible. When I see little boys now, they absolutely wreck me. If I don’t have another son, I fear I will think this way about little boys for the rest of my life.
What I’m trying to say here is, do not look at my situation from the surface only. It’s very deep and complex. It’s more than just the doubts of a second time mother. It’s thoughts from a grieving mother expecting a new baby. It’s very hard to put these thoughts out there, to say I want a boy, or that I may resent the new baby. Those are both very personal things that I never planned on sharing…but I’m sick of people dismissing my feelings. I’m sick of them comparing my situation to their own. I’m sick of them thinking they know when they don’t. What you have to understand is, that I, like everyone else, think I will surprise myself. I truly know I will love this baby boy or girl, first child or second. I also know that I’m going to have situations, hard situations for that matter, that are going to make loving this baby difficult and painful. When I was pregnant with Nash, I felt joy, happiness, love, and of course some fear. Being pregnant with this baby, I feel fear, sadness, stress, heartache, resentment, and love. I feel like someone who has lost a limb and is learning to walk again. I get a chance to be a mother again and I am over the moon happy about that, but I’m also a a new kind of mom. A mother who knows great loss. A mother learning to love again. I will appreciate this baby more because of that and resent him or her for the same reason. This baby represents everything that once was and will be again, minus one person.