Today, October 15, is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Day. The whole month in fact is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness. I learned about this day last year, at a bereavement group meeting. (See related blog post here.)
Last year was different. We were four months into living our new reality, missing Millie, and trying to continue on as a family with Mon Cœur (MC) propelling us forward.
This year, we are 16 months missing Millie, carrying on as a family with MC keeping us on our toes, and we are 14 days from an induction to meet our baby boy. This year is harder in many ways than it was last year, perhaps precisely because we are expecting, and in just two weeks. I believe it is the home-stretch anxiety, knowing how close we are, and also knowing that it could all slip between our fingers.
Throughout this pregnancy, we have had our ups and downs of emotions – excited, skeptical, hopeful, anxious, excited, scared. We are all anticipating his arrival, and yet some severe anxiety clouds our joy. We know the potential outcome. We know we aren’t in control, and little things can trigger thoughts or feelings of “what if?”
Gifts and conflicting emotions
Our village exudes enthusiasm for us – they don’t see or feel the apprehensions that we do. We have had more people shower us with gifts prior to baby boy’s arrival than Millie’s, which is confusing from my perspective. I hate to sound ungrateful or ungracious, I simply can not mentally process the gifts that have been given us…We are scared.
When it’s just us, and we aren’t putting on a face for others, we are in fact very aware of what could or couldn’t be. I have hid all of the gift bags away and out of sight until we are back home with baby in arms. I would rather be exhausted, have my hands full, and have to process gifts and write thank yous once I know he is here instead of looking through them now, getting hopes up, and maybe not be able to put these gifts to use. Silly? Maybe. I am trying to be strong while also protecting our family from potential emotional anguish, and it’s a fine line to walk.
Every time we receive a gift, I flashback to the day that I received a gift from my sister, and then Chouchou came home that same afternoon and had forgotten a quilt at work which had been made by a co-worker. “It’s no big deal, baby – you can get it tomorrow,” I told him.
That day was the day before the morning I woke up and didn’t feel Millie, that I naïvely believed that although I wasn’t feeling any movement, since I felt contractions, everything was okay. Everybody kept saying, “Babies move less and less right before labor.” “Okay, she’s ready then,” I incorrectly thought.
The morning I woke up and Chouchou was busy preparing a dinner feast in the kitchen, and MC was running around laughing. The morning I planned on “just running up to the hospital for a quick check-in” while Chouchou felt much more ominous about the situation. The morning we placed my hospital bag and the car seat in the car, expecting to come home with a baby bundle and at the doctor’s office learning that would not be the case.
Managing this pregnancy
Although I feel like we’ve managed well throughout this pregnancy, the one thing that we have refused to do is set up anything baby related or open any baby gifts. We just can’t bring ourselves to do it. Instead, I have begun a wish list of things for my mom to do when she comes up. I am grateful for her help, support, and understanding. What gets done, gets done, and what doesn’t get done, we’ll figure out once we get home. Anything is better than coming home and having to break down a no-longer needed nursery, and reallocate no-longer needed gifts.
Everyone keeps saying that this time it will work out, this time will be different. While I want to believe them, I can’t help but know that it might not work out, it might not be different this time. When I hear those phrases it makes me itch inside, like there’s a rash that can’t be soothed. When I hear that, I just want to hit fast forward to the day when we are reassured by his arrival, his cry and his physical, squirming presence.
Today especially I am reminded of Millie Bonheur, our darling who did not come home with us. I think of her every day. I remember her every day. MC sees a butterfly and says, “Hello, Millie!” She is remarkable at her timing to notice Millie’s urn and ask to hold her or speak to her. Just this past Tuesday, she asked to hold Millie. She talked to her, held her, then we put her back.
Today I am remembering our Millie, and all the moms whose hearts ache for their baby angels.
To read more about our pregnancy journey, check out these previous blog posts:
- Big sister conversations – MC realizing her world is about to change
- Keep calm and go to the doctor – the need for reassurance
- Measuring up: 28 weeks – making Baby’s measurements real for MC
- A review three pregnancy apps – three apps I’ve tried, and my favorite one
- It’s a…boy? – our gender reveal
- A message a year later – a health magazine article that was thought provoking
- Big day out – our pregnancy announcement