I have read lots of posts about pregnancy loss. I experienced an ectopic pregnancy when my first child was only 2 years old and had to process the loss of that little life as well as the very real risk to my own life. I have grieved with friends who have held their dying baby in their arms, those who have struggled for months and years to fall pregnant only to experience loss again and again. I have shed tears with them and cried when I got to experience the first sounds of a precious heartbeat growing deep in their womb and celebrated when they have finally held that much-anticipated child in their arms.
I understand the grief of loss and the need for consolation and understanding.
But I did not anticipate the grief of unwanted/unplanned pregnancy; the fact that no-one knows what to say or do to help; or the way it would change my life.
I was a happy mother of two. I finally felt free from the burden of my post-natal depression. I had a wonderful, energetic 3 year old and a sweet little 9 month old. I had returned to work part time and enjoyed the space to be a grown up for a few hours each week. I had finished breastfeeding and started exercising – I was feeling really good in my body again. My marriage was thriving. We planned our first big family holiday – a road trip to Canberra for a special wedding.
And then that little red line appeared. No, it wasn’t red. It was crimson! No pregnancy test has ever been so dark, no baby has ever announced its arrival with the force of that tiny unexpected sesame seed growing inside me.
I stared for a long time at that line. I double-checked the packet to be sure I’d read it correctly. We were using protection. How could this happen? Tears started to stream down my face. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t speak, I could barely breathe.
I grew up as a Christian and have never believed that termination would be something I would choose, but the first thought that came into my head was ‘maybe we could make it go away’. So I called my Mum. Once my Mum knew, there was no going back. My daughter was born in that moment when I spoke those words to my Mumma. It was real now!!
I suffered debilitating depression throughout my pregnancy. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I didn’t doubt that I would love her but I just couldn’t imagine how it would work. Our car wasn’t big enough for three car seats and we certainly didn’t have money for a new one. I cried… A LOT!
I prayed that God would protect her from my sorrow. I prayed that he would help me love her. I prayed that he would help me find joy.
I can remember holding her for the first time. Her slimey, warm little body against my chest. And I loved her, as I always knew I would.
Life wasn’t just magically easy. Babies are hard work. Even harder when there are two preschoolers who also need your care and attention. My daughter was a screamer and I shook my fist at God a few times and said, “You can’t give me a baby I didn’t want and then make her horrible!” (We later found out she had some serious gut issues and I apologised to God for my earlier impertinence 😉 I cried… A LOT!
And then something amazing happened. I realised one day that I was enjoying my three crazy girls. Not just tolerating them or waiting until nap time but I was laughing as they played together and breathing in their scent when I held them. I can remember standing over my baby’s cot one night as she fell asleep and just crying big fat tears of love. When you ask God for more love, he has a tendency to go overboard. I love all my girls, but there is something really valuable about a love that you fought so hard for!
I learnt to say ‘yes’ when people offered help. I learnt to let things go that just didn’t matter. I learnt that being the best mum for my girls didn’t mean being a perfect mum. I learnt that I have more patience and resilience than I ever knew.
I can not imagine life without Penny. She is inquisitive and empathic. She is smart and gutsy. She is funny and gives the best ‘smoochy kisses’ ever. It seems utterly ridiculous to me now that there was ever a time that we thought we didn’t need her.
Thank God for unexpected joy.
If you are grieving an unplanned pregnancy or would like to share your story with someone or ask a question you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Much love to you.