Winning after losing

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.IMG_1530.JPG

8 thoughts on “Winning after losing

  1. I read your blog and I 100% agree with you. For those who have never lost a child, you have no idea what those of us that have, are feeling, emotionally, mentally or physically. I too lost my first born Jennifer, 36 years ago. The emotions and feelings you have never go away. They are always there, in your heart, your soul, your mind. The pain lessens over the years, but it is still there waiting to escape at the drop if a hat. Thirty six years later I still celebrate the day of her birth, when asked how many children I have, I respond with three. She is forever a part of me, I carried her under my heart for nine months and held her in my arms for two short weeks. That dies not however lessen my love for her. My other two daughters were made aware of the fact that they had another sister, I never kept it hidden as if she never existed. The love you have for Nash will always be there, it won’t dissapate when you have your second child. You will love this child as you love Nash, but I would be lying if I said it won’t be different. It will and that’s okay, there are no rules here. You take one day at a time and do and feel what is best for you. Friends and family always think they are doing or saying what they think we should do or feel..but the reality is, they cannot feel your pain and sorrow. Today is a struggle and tomorrow probably will be too, but you get through it the best you can. Know you and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers. Nash blessed many lives and his legacy and smile will live on forever. Please know that I understand your frustrations, hurdles, turmoil and anger. It took me many years to get over being angry at others for not understanding, for telling me I neede to put it behind me and move on. I moved on in my own time and let the ones that were confused by my thoughts, words and actions figure it out on their own. We all grieve in our own way and no one has the answer to what might be best for others. Know that you will love this baby, but it will be a different love. This baby will have nothing to compare your love to, so it won’t make a difference. Just live as you know how and everything will work itself out. Peace, love, hope and understanding.
    Carol Rheingans Campbell

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  2. Feelings don’t have to make sense to anyone. They just are. I hope your fears get less and less every day. I know you don’t have Nash anymore. But I think you will always have Nash. Even if you don’t have the scars, you will always have Nash. Forever. Love and Peace to you Shelly.

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  3. You let it out. Whatever worries or concerns you have that you feel like you need to talk about, do it. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. But I know it’s heart breaking. You all are in my prayers.

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  4. I can’t imagine the pain you must feel. I’m sure your friends and family are just trying (in their minds) to make you feel better. But you’re right… How can anyone tell you what you’re feeling will change when they have no clue what you’ve been through. Continued prayers to you. Prayers to your husband. Prayers for your unborn child. And prayers for your sweet Nash who will be with you always.

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  5. I have to say that I loved reading your story. I havent lost a child myself but a fellow coworker has recently and everyone in the work place doesnt say much about it out of respect but I love being able to read your story and understand how shes feeling when you look at her and can tell shes having a hard day dealing with everything still. I know the hardship of losing someone your close to (Father, mother or close relative) and i know that losing a child is much harder and a lot worse to deal with.I do believe whole heartedly that Nash is with you every time your feeling all of these emotions and that Nash sent you this baby to help you heal and show you that he wants you to heal and knows that you made an amazing mom to him no matter how short your time with him was and he knows you will be an amazing mom to baby number 2. Remember always Nash is with you, Nash does love you, Nash wants you to experience all the firsts with this baby. Because yes every baby is different, and every baby has firsts 🙂 When the baby comes, you will be surprised, you will actually love this baby differently, the same but yet different, because there is no way to love another person or child exactly the same. I’m not saying that you will play favorites or compare them to loving Nash more. I’m saying when you look at this baby and hold this baby you will wonder how you DO love this baby exactly the same and feel so differently with them. Both of my sons are still here I love them equally and differently at the same time. No matter your feelings now. Everything will fall into place and your heart is big enough and strong enough to love and hold a place for another baby even with all the loss it has recently felt. There will be harder times than most, but when you look at your baby you will know that everything is going to be ok and these feelings are ok to feel. it means your human and you know the feeling of great loss and great joys in totally different lights. My prayers are with you while ur on this path of life. I wish you the best and many more memories. Nash is watching over you and enjoying your new memories too.

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  6. I fully sympathize with you. We lost our first and third child. People were cold, callus, saying you will love the next baby more. How could they know, I was missing the first. I too got pregnant pretty quickly after our first child cortney died. Then our son came and then almost 16 months later our 3rd child another son who died. It’s been 22 & 19 years respectively and each day I remember everything about them and to that their siblings are NOT replacements but my children and their brother and sisters. Peace to you.

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  7. Thank you for the touching post. You are so brave, so loved. I believe that your honesty is helping and healing, and it will continue to resonate with many grieving parents.
    How brutal and beautiful your journey as a mother is! You have incredible courage in exploring these feelings, naming them, and sharing them through your blog. What a blessing it is that you have so many people who wish to comfort you; that even when their attempts fail to comfort, the opportunity to process your anger, sadness, and grief arise, so you can face the many facets of losing Nash and the realities of becoming a mother to a new baby so soon. Your perseverance and hope are just as inspirational as your struggles.
    The more I read, the more I think “How bittersweet.” Your strength in coping with the bitter and opening yourself for the sweet is truly incredible.
    Nash, Todd, and your new baby are very lucky to have such a warrior mom, wife, woman. And you are lucky to have had and to continue to have each of them. You four are such a special family, and I pray that you will always be blessed with a bounty of sweetness to balance the bitterness. Thank you again for your courage!

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  8. I am so sorry that you have to go thru any of this. It is heartbreaking to me. No one can understand your pain or feelings unless they themselves have been thru it. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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