Gratitude & Grief During Pregnancy

She slowly scanned the anatomy, verbally confirming a healthy baby as she went. This is my third pregnancy and third growing little, yet my nerves didn’t know the difference. Listening intently I hung onto every word she spoke, chiseling away at my fear the little on that screen would be anything less than perfect. Leaving that ultrasound last week thoughts of gratitude triggered flowing tears—who am I to receive the gift of a seemingly healthy baby? And what’s fair about others not? Thus far my desire to mother healthy biological littles has been honored exponentially, and my emotional jarring represented deep understanding that it didn’t have to be this way. Like it wasn’t for some women in my inner circle. And the tears were for them, the survivors. Those equipped, faithful and undeniably loving women faced the grief of a lifetime with infant loss, late miscarriages, chromosomal abnormalities, and/or infertility. Arguably better mamas than I’ll ever be, their stories don’t make sense—their anguish isn't merited, their experience unjust. Days later I’m still holding both gratitude and grief in the same hand with which I feel my growing little's kicks. 

As we go on living, the hope is to learn how to cover people well—how to care for them, to really see them, and to be able to sit in it with them. To find a point of connection, regardless how far apart lives look, for the sake of offering solace or empathy. With evolving competency in this realm meeting my thankfulness, I consider how to best cover mamas facing loss. Speaking from a place of curiosity not experience, maybe for those surviving mamas comfort in the pain isn't plainly believing everything happens for a reason. A dear friend who personally faced the indelible tragedy of infant loss recently told me a significant and tangible part of healing is for other mamas to cherish their healthy babies. Put differently, expressed gratitude for healthy littles is a powerful tool to relieve their ache. And in reciprocality, surviving mamas can reveal to others newfound depths of humility. 

Covering mamas well means to step out of routine, scripted conversation and enter in uncharted territory. It means to put your fear aside to enter into theirs. It’s a proactive, vocal action. Your silence is only to be used in prayer. Mamas, my charge to you: To not turn numb to the gift of a healthy little—appreciate their unremarkable health a bit more. Be consistent and unwavering, as intact relationships are their lifelines.  Snuggle your little(s) tighter in remembrance of those lost and in acknowledgement of those living against the odds. And, pause to revere their mamas who know how broken a heart can be. 

Speaking respectively and sincerely to mamas carrying unspeakable grief surrounding their littles: There will be redemption regardless how long it takes. Your wholeness can somehow exist again, even with your heart's permanent bruise. May mamas in your life focus on your present not your future—that they cover you in real time during those months long hospital stays, horrifying prognoses, mounting negative pregnancy tests, and pumping sessions that provide milk to no one. And may you allow yourself to receive their love in full.

Let all of us mamas leverage our individual strengths for honesty and openness with one another.  In gratitude and grief I see you, survivors. We see you.