A complicated holiday

The holidays are upon us again.  I’m both looking forward to them and not.  I’m looking forward to be at this big family event with a living baby.  Two years ago I was at Thanksgiving, pregnant with a child that we knew had Down Syndrome, but did not yet know had failing kidneys. Though I was at the point in my pregnancy where I was trying to celebrate, I did so cautiously.  I was still in the second trimester, when the risk of loss was 20%.  I treaded lightly.  I was among family, some of whom where pregnant with healthy babies, and I was secretly (or not so secretly) envious, wishing I could simply just be pregnant.  It was a complicated holiday.

Last year was my first Thanksgiving without Mabel.  I longed for the year before when I could still hope, even if cautiously, for a take home baby.  Those were easier days.  On this next family gathering, I was well acquainted with the new life of child loss and I did not like it.  I did not like attending holidays without my daughter.  It felt empty and and wrong.  I even held within me a little secret- I was newly pregnant but this small developing life inside me was known only to me and my husband. The hope of this new baby was not enough to lighten my heavy heart- and it shouldn’t have been. A new baby did not negate the loss of my daughter. It was a complicated holiday.

And now this Thanksgiving, my second Mabel-less turkey day.  This year I bring with me, my son, a warm squishy body to fill my once empty, aching arms.  That hope of a new baby has turned into the reality of one.  He is my protection- a shield against some of the sorrow that is bound to creep in.  He is also my light- he has brought me so much joy and I am excited to share him with the family.  Because he is here with me, I have begun to enjoy things again- but cautiously. I would hate for people to think that because he is here I am no longer sad, no longer long for my first baby.  So still, it will be a complicated holiday.

May Thanksgiving be gentle to you.

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6 thoughts on “A complicated holiday

  1. I’ve been following your blog for a while, but I haven’t logged into my WordPress in a long time. I’m so thrilled to read you now have a sibling for your Mabel. Welcome to the bittersweet happiness of parenting after loss xx

  2. I’m so happy that you have Felix with you on this Thanksgiving Day, and so sorry that you’re missing Mabel’s presence as well. These holidays can be so bittersweet. Last Thanksgiving we were just two months out from the loss of our daughter at 4.5 months gestation, and we were still wrapping our heads around what had happened and waiting for the results of microarray testing. This year I’m just over 6 months pregnant with her big brother, and everyone is admiring my belly and wanting to talk about pregnancy and I’m still terrified. At the same time, I’m incredibly thankful to be pregnant this year with an apparently healthy baby, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be bringing him home in February. I do wish that it were simpler for others to acknowledge and understand how complicated our feelings around rainbow pregnancies and babies are — I understand why everyone is so happy for us and eager for us to be OK, but it makes it feel lonelier to miss the baby that isn’t here.

  3. I hear you! Christmas 2013 we were on bed rest knowing Ander could come anytime. Church on Christmas Eve was my last outing before the hospital and his too-soon birth. 2014 I was 5 weeks pregnant and tentatively shared that joy with my immediate family. This year I’ll have a happy, healthy 4-month-old (hopefully). Three years with lots of family and no drinking in a row! Oof. Lol…

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