For my birthday this year, Alex Lily and I took a trip. I definitely wanted to go on this trip, just the three of us, before Lily becomes a big sister, but I timed it specifically on my birthday because I found myself wanting to escape again.
After our ectopic pregnancy, I was devastated knowing that we would be welcoming a niece and nephew just weeks before baby Laughlin #3 was to be born. So we planned this, knowing I would need some time to reflect and to grieve once again amongst the joy.
When the time came around to welcome the new babies and to go away, I was in a much better place then I had been when I planned it. Now approaching my third trimester with this baby, I find myself thinking of the life this baby would have had if it’s brother or sister had been viable. Would we have ever transferred this baby? And if we did go for it, this baby’s entire life would be different having been born at least a year from now.
I still don’t know if I truly believe “everything happens for a reason” but the lives of my children are examples of beauty from ashes, of hope after the storm, of the purpose of every human life.
I’m now 26 weeks pregnant with the this baby. When I was 26 weeks pregnant with Noelle, I had my first surgery. Scared and hopeful we entered into the hospital that day, giving all we had to fight for our baby’s life. I would do it all over again. All the pain, all the tears, all the hope was worth it because it led us to where we are today- carrying on her legacy and spreading hope to others.
Of course, this pregnancy has been met with the inevitable question of:
"is this your first!?"
"No, it's my third"
"Oh, what do you have!?"
"How old are they?"
"Almost three, and 16 months"...
I frequently just pretend like Noelle is home with me, bypassing the painful look of pity from a stranger. Sometimes it's fun to pretend... to imagine what it would be like if Lily was running around with her big sister.
Of course other conversations go like this...
"Is this your first!?"
"No it's my third (well really my fourth with my ectopic)"
"Oh, what do you have!?"
"I have a baby girl in heaven that passed away shortly after birth and I have a 16 month old girl at home"
"oh I'm so sorry...."
"I had a couple miscarriages before we had my first... I was about 10 weeks along..."
"I'm so sorry to hear that..."
***lump in chest...swallow...deep breath***
I have had an ectopic pregnancy, so I am no stranger to an early loss and the pain, anger and sorrow that go along with it. But to me, it is insensitive to compare the two. For me to start to open up about Noelle and then feel like her life was disrespected or disregarded in any way is a dagger to my heart.
So sometimes... it's easier to pretend.
And then there are the conversations that lead to talking about Noelle's Light, feeling so proud of our baby girl and how she is changing lives and helping others.
Those are the conversations I want to have. The honest, raw, real conversations. But I guess I am still navigating the waters and trying to not let other's responses deter me from sharing her legacy.
I know at the end of the day, people just want to relate. And everyone should be able to voice their sorrow, their loss, their struggle around having a family because no matter how much media tries to romanticize it, it is NOT easy. 1 in 4 women suffer a loss (infant, miscarriage, stillbirth) and although they are all different, they are all painful and real.
To those of you who had a miscarriage, I see you and I am sorry.
I know it's not the same, but I suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
To those of you who had a stillbirth, I see you and I am sorry.
I know it's not the same, but I suffered an infant loss.
We should all be able to recognize the difference in these losses and come together none the less.
I hope one day, women can feel comfortable enough not to pretend.