Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The loss of innocence

With my first pregnancy, I was really fortunate.  I had such an easy pregnancy.  I never thought there was the possibility of something going wrong.  Not to me, not to us and not to our baby.  And it didn't.  Nothing went wrong, she was born healthy and strong.  She grew like a weed and now she's our wonderful 6 year old princess.

After experiencing something so close to perfection once, how could I imagine anything different happening in the second pregnancy?  Not only did I believe that nothing bad could happen to us, to this baby or to our family, but I also had the experience of one easy, healthy pregnancy.  Obviously we know how that turned out.  And the next three pregnancies.  And with that, instead of thinking nothing bad can come out of this pregnancy, or nothing bad can happen to this baby or to our family, you begin to think that nothing good can happen, and you sit waiting for the other shoe to drop.  You lose the carefree feeling of everything is going to be alright.

But, this time, it was different.  It was more like the first pregnancy.  Aside from the assistance of a great medical staff, the pregnancy was so much like my first.  But, I didn't get to enjoy it the same.  Every twinge, every pain, every feeling of pressure felt like "this is it.  It's going to end."  And that is a crappy feeling.  It's a scary feeling and time feels like it is standing still.

I was wrong, nothing bad happened.  She was born, she cried, she was full term, she was given straight to daddy, she nursed immediately after birth, she roomed in with us, she came home with us, there weren't any NICU visits, no appointments scheduled with specialists, there wasn't the same fears of bringing home a preemie.  We brought home a nearly chubby, healthy, full term little girl.

You are torn between wanting to enjoy the pregnancy and how far you've gotten with desperately wanting to be at the end just so you can hold your baby and be reassured that they are going to be here.  You get passed the first trimester and start worrying about a second trimester loss, your water breaking even earlier than before, going into preterm labor that cannot be stopped and on and on and on.   Then, you think, "once I get into the third trimester, I'll breath easier" but you don't.  You just have different fears, stillbirth, cord accidents, your water breaking and experiencing cord prolapse, a birth accident that causes death.  It just doesn't ever get easier.  You just get so anxious to be done, to get out of the stressful time of pregnancy and just think that once your baby is here it will be easier, it will get better.

You would think that the fears that plagued you during pregnancy would be gone.  You would think you would finally be able to breath easier, that you would be able to go back to that feeling of being naive.

And you know, if you had only been plagued by pregnancy loss, you may go back to that feeling of being naive and now that your baby is here, everything is going to be ok.  You're going to grow old watching your child grow and shine and turn into this beautiful adult that will bless you with a lifetime of happiness and grandchildren.

But, if you've ever had the daunting and depressing task of selecting a casket for your baby who was just breathing and on the cusp of smiling the week prior, you don't get that benefit.  You are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop and you are back into those fears that you had during pregnancy.

You begin to be torn between desperately wanting to enjoy the days of itty bitty newness with your newborn and wanting to get to the point where you won't wake up every 30 minutes just to check to make sure she is still breathing.  You want to get to that point where you aren't terrified of letting your baby fall asleep next to you while nursing because what happens if you fall asleep too and she isn't on her back anymore, increasing her risk?

And once you get passed the pregnancy part, your spouse is more than likely just as paranoid as you are, so between you waking up every 30 minutes in a panic you also feel him wake up in a jolt several times through the night to also make sure she is breathing.

You lose all of your innocence, all of those feelings of pure happiness are joined with feelings of fear and sadness because of why you feel that fear.  It's a never ending cycle.  And it's hard.  But so incredibly worth it.

While there is that sadness, there is also so much joy.  And I think you almost appreciate it more.  I'm not saying that I didn't appreciate Kaitlyn or Matthew's babyhood, but it's different after a loss.  You appreciate every breath, every cry, every dirty diaper, every wet diaper, every middle of the night scream, every moment you are losing sleep because you know it is because your baby is there with you.  You cuddle more, you give more kisses, you sing more songs, you take more pictures, you take more video, but you also worry more, are more overprotective, wash your hands more, you call the doctor more, you spoil them more, you stay home more, you dress them comfier, you're just different.

I'm a big believer in learning from your experiences.  I wish I would have taken more pictures of Matthew, I wish I would have spent more time just cuddling with him, I wish we would have read him more stories and sang him more songs, I wish we would have had more good pictures taken of him, I wish we would have had a nice family picture done, I wish we would have taken more video, had more walks and just had more time.  Life is just so busy with a newborn and a toddler, and when that newborn is a preemie being discharged from the hospital and you're pumping every 2 hours and that toddler is in diapers still, it's hard and it's stressful.  And I've learned from it.  I've learned everything else can wait.  Dishes can wait, laundry can wait, you can sleep when you're older, but you cannot get this time back.  You cannot hit rewind.  With that, I have done things differently this time around. 

Life after loss, and a baby after losing a baby is so hard to explain.  There are just so many torn emotions.  And in the end, you become so much more grateful.  Grateful for your children, grateful for your spouse, grateful for the support of your friends and family, and grateful for those that are truly there for you.  Although so much innocence is lost, and so much sadness is there, you are blessed with a great appreciation of life and relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.


Mama KC said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry and I know how you're feeling. ::hugs::

It took me until about a week ago to not freak out over EVERYTHING with Monkey Man, and I'm still nervous all the time. You've experienced something much more difficult than I, but the feelings of anxiety are there for me too. I really hope you and your hubby can start to relax and enjoy your little girl more.

It's hard.

Bobbi said...

You are so right. (((hugs)))
We lost our little girl just shy or her 7th birthday... That experience changes a person forever.
But they can be good changes too..
both my husband and I appreciate all our children so much more..and everything has so much more meaning...
Sometimes it is an odd feeling.. when we think what a large hole we have in our the same time feeling how full our hearts are with the love for all our children and how much we have been hurt with how much we have been blessed..
I guess it is just that life is such a series of growing and learning experiences...

Tiffany said...

you are so right. i'm not even pg yet, and i keep worrying about my next baby, and the possibility of being infertile and never getting to have another baby, etc. though i was a worrier before, losing Julius has kicked my anxiety into high gear. i literally have to stop myself from thinking b/c my chest starts to feel tight. life after losing a baby is definitely rough. and it's unfair that we have to experience this loss of innocence.

Lindsay said...

I'm right there with you; you worded it all so well. I worry so much sometimes that I worry that I'll be so anxiety-ridden for the rest of my life that I won't be able to enjoy any of it. I live in a state of fear and contentment at the same time. That sounds impossible, I know, and i often feel like I'm living a double life...but like you said, it's hard to explain. Once you lose one child, you feel like you're only going to have to face the loss of another...and the fact that we now know that it can happen without warning...that makes it even more daunting.

I've definitely learned to cherish every single second. Every cry, every whimper, every dirty diaper, every smile, every's all so priceless.

Lori said...

I just echoed these words today...once you've lost a child, you have no real reason to believe it can't and won't happen again.

In fact, you believe THAT more than you believe it will all be ok...because you remember when you DID believe it would all be ok and it WASN'T.

Sending you lots of love!