The things I have lost

On top of mourning the death of my daughter, I am mourning the loss of the pregnancy and birth I had once dreamed of.  I lost the opportunity to announce my pregnancy the way I wanted.  I told some people at work earlier than I wanted and in a way I never imagined.  I sat in my car in the parking lot of the Maternal Fetal Medicine office, calling my practice manager to tell her I couldn’t work the next day because I was having a CVS.  I cut off congratulations.  You get only one opportunity to announce your first pregnancy.  I learned to tell people in two parts.  When I went to my offices I would tell them in the morning that I was pregnant and bask in the congratulations all morning.  At lunch I would tell them that my baby had Down Syndrome.  I wanted to be open about my baby’s diagnosis and wanted to explain that there was a high risk for loss.  It was like saying, “I’m pregnant, but don’t be too excited yet.”  I gave up the simple reassurances.  You’re worried about miscarriage?  You’re past 13 weeks, that’s so unlikely!  Not for me.  You’re 24 weeks- your baby is viable!  Maybe, maybe not.  I gave up a genuine smile when people asked if I was pregnant.  I gave up my baby shower.  I lost the labor I had pictured.  We had moved into a new house that has an endless supply of hot water.  I pictured laboring in that shower.  I was with women in labor and catching their babies, thinking this won’t be me.  I won’t be delivering my baby in the labor room; I won’t have minutes and minutes of skin to skin; I won’t be breastfeeding right away.  I gave up announcing my baby had Down Syndrome the way I wanted.

I am also mourning the loss of my future.  I will never be the same.  I had so many visions.  I can picture myself on my couch holding a baby, in the middle of the night struggling to breastfeed, schlepping the baby carrier through a parking lot to a therapy appointment.  I’ve not only lost my child but I’ve lost these fantasies.  I thought I had gotten used to the idea of losing fantasies.  When we found out our baby had Down Syndrome, I had to give up many of my ideas of how life would be.  I grieved, grieved the loss of the child I thought I would have and began to accept the new child I knew I would have.  I’m in an almost similar place now.  I’m grieving the loss of the child I thought I would have, but how do I accept the absence of a child I thought I should have.  A friend once made the comment, “Many people look at children with Down Syndrome with pity. I wonder if you’ll look at children with Down Syndrome with longing?”  How true that is.

I took it for granted before- the idea of raising a child with Down Syndrome.  I was reading in the book Bloom by Kelle Hampton about how Kelle was told her daughter had Down Syndrome shortly after birth.  She mentions a hospital worker who told her tearfully that she had lost her daughter with Down Syndrome many years before.  I wondered how she lost her daughter and assumed it was decades ago.  I assumed that medicine has come too far for that to happen now.  As long as they survive the pregnancy, children with Down Syndrome live, right?  That’s what I thought at 13 weeks- at least my baby can live.  I would make a good parent to a child with special needs.  But I’ve lost the fantasy of being that parent, of being a parent.  I’ve lost my baby and I’ve lost a piece of me.


One thought on “The things I have lost

  1. Few women who have lost a baby/child can ever completely recover, but many or even most still become mothers. While I know you’ve lost your fantasy of being “that parent”, I hope that you can re-awaken your fantasy of being “a parent”. There can still be hope, and hope can help us heal.

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