Loss When You Have Living Children
By Rachel Windley
“You’re the one who was pregnant with twins this time and one was ectopic right?” asked my nurse at my OB office recently as I went for a routine 34 week check on our son.
It caught me off guard and I felt the tears sting my eyes immediately. I have sort of purposefully not dwelt on or emotionally processed the fact that this should have been a twin pregnancy and that there was a missing person from the room that day.
I was faced with the news 6 weeks into my current pregnancy, after incredible pain and bleeding one night and mentally preparing myself for what would have been the second miscarriage in 2 consecutive months, that the baby looked fine-we even heard the heartbeat earlier than should have been possible- but I had an additional, ectopic pregnancy in my right fallopian tube and it would have to be removed immediately via emergency surgery as it was dangerous for me and this other baby growing bravely in my uterus. We proceeded with the surgery, a scary night for us, but I had just recovered from a miscarriage literally weeks before this experience and could not emotionally connect with the fact that we had removed the ectopic pregnancy, another pregnancy, from my body. I was told not to worry about our other baby as they prepared me at the hospital for surgery (they did surgeries on pregnant women all the time!)-but my husband was told while I was in the bathroom that he should prepare for us to lose our other baby too. He didn’t tell me until months later, but I hate that he had to carry that alone. (Men hurt too, fyi.)
Those who just keep in touch with me online may not know this part of my story with this pregnancy. I haven’t even really let myself process what a gift it actually is to be this far in to this pregnancy and this close to kissing my son’s sweet face, but I do long for the day he is hopefully, safely in my arms in just a few weeks.
Hopefully, because even with the positive reports and routine visits to the doctor this pregnancy, even with my almost two-year old son running around and giving me a run for my money and breaking my heart on the regular with how much I love him-even with all of these signs of a blessed life, I know loss. I know hurting deeply from your womb from the emptiness it feels where it once was full. It’s something that haunts you afterwards. You never really fully recover, no matter if you are given the incredible gift of children after loss, it just still is a spot in your heart that hurts, aches and can bring you to your knees when you least expect it. Like now, as I am typing this, bawling totally unexpectedly. My tears are flowing freely because the wound is still open; though healing and growing back, I know it will scar and forever mark me.
I know so, so many friends and acquaintances who share this pain, this inexplicable ache that you carry, though others may look at you and wonder why it hurts so much when you already have a living child. Believe me, we understand the immense gift of our other children, if we are fortunate enough to have them. Even on the hard days of parenting, I could, and often do, cry thinking about how much I love him and am grateful for his life and that I get to be his mom. I do not take it for granted.
But loss is loss. Death is death. Grief is grief.
It is all so complex to walk through. All babies start off as a positive pregnancy test at some point and the joy that fills a longing mother’s heart as she experiences that is the same for each positive test. You never know if that positive test will end in heartbreak days later or you will meet your child in months. Our hearts can’t help but connect with the fact that a new life has begun in us, no matter how hard we try to steel ourselves against it to protect ourselves from potential pain later. Joy seeps through and that’s what makes the hurt sting no matter how long we carry a pregnancy and no matter how many children do or do not come after.
I want to note that I understand that those who are suffering infertility, some for years, are experiencing their own sort of hell. I am not attempting to say that this is the same kind of hurt or feeling of loss. However, I received the best and most cherished advice in my motherhood journey, through 6 pregnancy losses and one living child and this one growing in me now, that God wants to meet each of us where WE are. WE are allowed to feel whatever sort of depth of grief and sadness that we need to and we should not feel the weight of feeling like our loss is inconsequential in comparison to another who may have suffered “more”. God will meet them where they are and wants to meet us where we are too.
So feel it all. Feel all you need to as you grieve, as you hope, as you dream, as you cry out, as you laugh again, as you try again, as days go by and years go by. Feel what YOU need to feel and allow God to meet you there and restore you softly, tenderly, gently.
Check out Rachel’s Blog : Our Seasoned Life