Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: pregnancy after a loss

How Far Along Are You?

early pregnancy testWhen a woman discovers she is pregnant, the inevitable question is immediately asked.

How far along are you?

I will say that we had known for weeks before we shared with a few select people and waited even longer to share with the rest of our close friends and family. Some, were kept in the dark longer. I really enjoyed keeping the secret and once it was out, it was a bit disappointing. The pressure also began. The pressure to be farther along than I was so that this baby would matter if this baby died.

The constant question “how are you feeling?” by the people who knew brought on the anxiety but the question, “how far along are you?,” would stop me in my tracks. I had to think about it for too long. Sometimes adding days or weeks to the gestation, just so the baby would mean something to the person asking.

It’s an innocent seeming question but for someone experiencing pregnancy after a loss, this is a loaded question. In all honesty, it feels judgmental.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are “really” pregnant.

I assure you, there was a second line on the test, I am pregnant.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are far enough to in the safe zone.

There is no safe zone.

How far along are you means, is the pregnancy far enough to be a considered a baby yet?

It was a baby from the moment of conception (for me anyway).

How far along are you means, you are trying to legitimize my feelings of grief should this baby die too.

My grief is legitimate no matter how far along I am.

How far along are you mean,s that the farther along I am, the bigger the baby, the more worth the baby has.

My baby has worth no matter how small or early he/she is.

As I get bigger, how far along are you, takes on a different meaning.

I am closer to delivery yet still not quite there. Will I make it with the baby alive?

I know the question, how far along are you, seems innocent. It seems like an inquiry and a supportive question but it’s not. It’s loaded, it’s dangerous.

Because if I lost the baby, I will have lost everything I have already dreamed of with her. Yes, her, because I imagined the baby to be a girl. So I have already seen pink and purple, flowers and butterflies, protective big brothers, dancing and singing, a love of reading, nurturing of a girl, bringing out my girly side, dresses for her baptism, communion and wedding. And, I have even imagined her children. Oh and yes…her name.

Call me naïve, stupid, crazy for even beginning those thoughts but it’s impossible not to. It’s impossible to pretend the baby, her future, doesn’t exist or will never exist. I am already in love. Her father and brothers already love her. And if she turns out to be a boy, we will love him too, just the same. So if this is only an “inside baby,” this is what is lost. It will hurt. It won’t hurt because of how short or long I was pregnant. It will hurt because I have loved and lost.

So when you ask “how far along are you? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. Because I am pregnant and I love this baby.

This is pregnancy after a loss.

Viral Rainbow Babies Photo

Rainbow Babies - ok.ruSo many of us have seen this set of photos. The Huffington Post wrote an article about these photos entitled Viral ‘Rainbow Babies’ Photo Post Brings Emotional Topic To LightIn that article, author Caroline Bologna shares that Chastity Boatman posted this set of photos on her blog in order “…for women to help support and heal one another. For women to know that they’re not alone in their struggles…”

It is a beautiful photo and I love that it depicts “rainbow babies” which are babies born after a pregnancy loss but…and here’s my butt…it really scares me.

Here’s why.

If people want to emulate this and create their own rainbow babies pictures what if a baby doesn’t make it? Stillbirth occurs in 1 and 160 pregnancies. Women participating in this kind of a photo shoot may experience a loss and then what? What will replace the woman and her intended baby in the subsequent photo?

I don’t want to be a negative nelly. I love this photo. I think it’s awesome, although the original photographers did not intend for these photos to depict the “rainbow babies” we have defined here. It certainly depicts all we hope in our pregnancies after a loss. It has been shared all over Facebook in many of the loss community groups. I was overjoyed to see it and thought it was an amazing concept that would bring awareness but…

I held my breath. I became fearful. I wondered if others would try this and where it might lead.

So what would a photographer put in the place of a mother experiencing a pregnancy loss between photo shoots? Would the mother still participate? Would the photographer have “fill-in’s” that would be photoshopped into the original if there was a stillbirth or infant death in between photo shoots? Would they incorporate another image or some other way to represent the mother and her lost child?

I hope we don’t find out. I am sure there will be photographers that will emulate this. I think it’s a wonderful concept and a great tribute to pregnancy after a loss. It just scares me that a baby won’t make it.

 

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