Its been a while..
since we last chatted about Oliver .. my late 7 week old angel baby. July of this year will mark two years of his passing. For those who may not know, Oliver had been born with Down Syndrome. Due to this, he had several health issues that created a cascade of unfortunate events that lead to his unfortunately passing at 6 weeks and 6 days old.
but now we are expecting our rainbow baby girl!!
Out of the blue, we found out at a random 3 o clock afternoon that we were expecting another baby a few months after the anniversary date of Olivers passing.
We were beyond thrilled to find out.
Naturally, I had anxiety and anxiousness surrounding the news. I just had an infant with significant health issues who passed away due to surgery complications. How am I supposed to maneuver with this news and still have my feelings?
One day at a time is how.
There is nothing more defeating, or more life altering, than the reality that we aren't here forever hits you. When you give birth to someone and then loss them after such a long fight and such a short time, your soul seems to be ripped in two. You eventually can heal, but there will always be a missing piece. My missing piece was my sweet son and now I'm going through these feelings while experiencing all the hormones pregnancy brings, the excitement, and joy this little rainbow baby has brought in such a short time I'll add.
There is nothing that really prepares you to lose a child and then have a child so soon after ( and I am aware that over a year isn't so soon however with such heavy emotions surrounding the death of our son, we weren't expecting it so soon).
We hate our daughter being alone. She is so loving and so helpful and really smart, but she is beyond bored. And with covid keeping us somewhat under the covers (or masks) with her, we aren't seeing her friends as much or going to the park to see other kids.
She's going on five now and I think its important to have children relatively close in age so the gap doesn't create issue for them connecting with each other ( like that would be hard with my kids but nonetheless)
Speaking of covid, thats the first thing we were majorly concerned about. Being pregnant, I was more susceptible to contracting anything illness related. And then my daughters immune system isn't as strong so she was at risk also. We were determined to stay safe during this crazy so far year long pandemic. We still are. Being a photographer, I'm able to still semi work with the help of my clients continuing to document their stories with me. I'm able to maintain my distance, wear a mask that is double layered with a filter insert option, and no contact (if there is, its hand sanitizer until I get home). Once I'm home I usually shower anyway so I wasn't too concerned with bringing anything home. But it still presented its worries.
I wanted to surround this pregnancy with as much positivity and hope that I could. Knowing that I have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I was due for a whole lot of sickness and iciness. I generally throw up daily, have vertigo, migraines, insomnia, you name it.
This pregnancy was no different, and honestly we had been through pregnancy twice now she we knew the best tricks to maintaining the sickness instead of fighting it, it seemed.
It wasn't until around 32 weeks that I stopped throwing up daily. It's been really nice. I don't feel like crap waking up and have the burst of nesting energy to get her room finished, which was a HUGE thing for me as I never set up Olivers room, even after he was born. And I feel for that I did him a disservice however I knew he would be by my side and by my bed at every moment until I was ready for him to go to his own room. *
According to a neonatal specialist, studies have been done to prove that not only premature or special needs children, but all infants benefit from staying close to their parents sleeping in a crib or bassinet until at least six months old. The knowing you are close by and literally their ability to smell you close by, gives them more comfort during their rest. This research has shown that due to that comfort, their risk of SIDS drastically reduces as well as their immunes system
#1: Allow myself to have my feelings ..
They are coming anyway, so why fight it? I gave myself my moments to cry and to grieve his loss. There is nothing weirder than feeling your baby kick you while you're crying over the loss of your other baby. But within that comes peace in doing step #3 - feeling our new baby. She was coming regardless of if I was grieving correctly or not (and by that I mean stuffing it deep down there is the incorrect way to handle death and grief)
I allowed myself to feel my grief, feel my new baby, and remember when I felt them with Oliver. I never shy away or hide from my husband when those moments happen because we are in this together and I know despite him not being pregnant, he has his feelings of grief too that may need to be let out from time to time. During that time, we give each other support and comfort and it lets us both know that we aren't alone in this grief and welcoming experience.
It's not always easy accepting bubbling up emotions that you really don't want to deal with. But I found its healthiest to let it roll like a wave. It's not always perfect, its bumpy and honestly annoying but its all meant to make you strong and prepare you for the next steps. It makes life a little sweeter when you want to bring light to the all knowing fact that time is fleeting and that we MUST appreciate the moments we have in life.
#2: Gave moments to our lost baby..
This was hard. The closer we get to our baby girl coming earth side, we have to prepare her room, her clothes, her everything.
Because I was a genius and asked specifically for gender neutral clothes for my daughter, we had a significant amount of infant, newborn, and now premie clothes due to Oliver. To say that we are saving big $$$ was an understatement.
But because we had all these things, we went through them the second time we were pregnant to prepare for his arrival. There were certain things that he had specifically for him. There were certain clothes he wore at home that we have photographs of him in. Because of this, I elected to create an
only him box to store. All the clothes, towels, hats, mittens, burp clothes, that we used for him were all going to be in his own bin, no other infant would use them. We gave him his space in our storage as much as he is in our hearts. We couldn't bare to get rid of the things we knew were specific for him.
Because we did have boy specific clothes, I decided to donate the unused, unworn clothes to a healthy baby boy in my community of friends.
#3: Felt for our new baby
Being excited all over again for a new baby, getting over the anxiety that something could be or could go wrong, was a huge hill for me to climb. I knew that with my brushes of pre and post partum depressions, that I had to work extra hard now given that grief was now added to the more heightened anxieties I had.
I started off at day of positive test being just that.. positive. I made myself think of baby names early, I made myself envision my girls playing. I envisioned giving labor again (it sounds odd but I love the process of labor despite my want to rip the bed rails off the bed in the process of bring baby earth side). I wanted to trick my mind away from the pre depression and the wallowing that grieving can bring, so that I could not only be mentally healthy for myself, but give my baby girl a feeling of being welcomed in a strange time, and give her her space while she grows within me.
So I made it a point to get her room ready, to find her name, make all the plans that we weren't able to make with Oliver and give her the happiest start earth side. I want my girls to feel how much love we have for them despite loosing a child. We don't want that grief to be so big that it clouds the beautiful light that our (soon) two daughters bring us
I invite you to read the poem "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley below
These words really inspired and assisted me when Oliver was born. We weren't fully expecting the issues we were presented with, but we learned to see the beauty in the situation unrolling at the moment.
Now, I'm using the poem again to help me understand that this isn't the life I wanted.. mourning an infant.. but the life I'm getting... another chance to have and raise a soul.. is JUST as beautiful.