Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Mourning a Different Kind of Loss

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The author, still pregnant with her son, who was born at 25.5 weeks.

As I look back at the NICU journey of my 25.5 weeker, I am incredibly thankful for the beautiful baby boy who has shown me true strength and determination. He has been a fighter from day one and been through more in 9 months than most deal with in a lifetime. What a blessing it has been to witness this miracle grow and develop from a fragile 1 lb 8 oz micropreemie to a 14 lb 4 oz “big” boy.

Despite how blessed I feel for how far we have come, as I look at my stack of maternity clothes in my closet, I am constantly reminded of the last 14 weeks of pregnancy I was never able to experience. I loved that last trimester when I was pregnant with my daughter. The kicks. The movement that could be seen as I look down at my belly. Holding my growing belly and imagining how this baby would look. Feeling the response to my touch. Wondering if it was a boy or a girl. Picking out names. Setting up the nursery. The anticipation. I didn’t get the full pregnancy experience, and I am amazed how hard that hit me.

With almost no time to prepare for my son’s delivery, I spent quite a few months in shock from the whole experience. HELLP syndrome came on quick and threatened the life of both myself and my unborn son. I went into the ER Friday night, was admitted to OB around midnight, and delivered by c-section at 9:56 the next morning. Initially I was told the delivery would be in 48 hours, so steroids could be given to mature the lungs. That wasn’t an option after my 6 am labs came back showing quickly worsening HELLP syndrome. Delivery was our only chance for survival.

baby in NICUAnd survive we did, with relatively smooth courses for both of us. As a nurse in OB, I am frequently reminded how blessed I am to have made it through this whole ordeal with very few bumps in the road. I have witnessed parents lose their precious babies before they even had a chance to meet them or shortly after from complications of prematurity or a traumatic delivery. They grieve the loss of a life, their hopes and plans of a future with that baby. Yet I find myself needing to grieve the loss of those last weeks of pregnancy. It seems petty and unimportant, especially knowing there is absolutely no comparison to losing a child. I have a beautiful little boy to hold in my arms, but I still find myself staring at those barely used or never even worn maternity clothes hanging in my closet, and I am overcome with sadness.

Knowing I will not have any more children due to all of the risks involved makes this even harder. It’s the end of an era for me, my child bearing days. I always thought I would have at least three kids and even toyed with the idea of surrogacy. I’ve seen so many people struggle with infertility, being able to give someone the gift of new life would have been absolutely amazing. These dreams will never become reality for me, but they still remain.

maternity clothesWhile I may look back at this time and think of dreams unfulfilled, these thoughts fade further into the background as I enjoy every day life with my family. I may always feel a twinge of sadness as I look back on those last weeks of pregnancy that I was unable to enjoy, but I am becoming more content with what I have been given as time goes by. I have two little miracles whom I love and adore, and I could not imagine my life without them. And those plans I may have missed out on, I have plenty of new hopes and dreams for the future to keep me entertained.

Now I think it’s time to revamp my closet, sell those ever present reminders, and close this chapter. Life is calling.

About Anna

Anna ShuldAnna Shuld is a wife and mom of two. She has a 3 year old daughter and a 9 month old son. She resides in Central Wisconsin where she works as an OB nurse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Katrina gehman says:

    you are such a strong woman as is he. I can’t even imagine going through everything you went through last April. You have been a rock during the entire journey as you will continue to be! I’m so happy and honored to be able to call you one of my best friends.

  2. I can understand that it must be very disappointing not to be able to wear those maternity clothes… however many of us grieve our children that we carried to term and were stillborn. My daughter died 1 year ago. She was a full-term stillborn. So yes, I was able to experience my final weeks of pregnancy. Yes, I was able to wear my maternity clothes… in fact, I was able to wear some of them while planning my daughter’s memorial.
    So I’m sure “grieving the loss of the last few weeks of pregnancy” must be rough, but it beats the hell out of waking up every day and staring at a 2-inch tall urn on your dresser.
    And classifying this as “mourning” is just insulting…. it’s akin to someone complaining about breaking their toe to an amputee. Be thankful that your child is ALIVE AND THRIVING- there are so many of us who would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

    • Hi Amber. I’m so sorry for your loss. We NICU parents all have vastly different experiences, but nothing can compare to the loss of a child, and I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  3. This is just so perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Anna Breaux says:

    I had a 26 weeker due to HELLP, and the words that you have written so perfectly describe how I feel about my experience. Thank you for doing such a great story sharing your experience.

  5. I had a 27 weeker six months ago from HELLP, and your blog captures so much of how I felt. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you for your blog and for sharing your story. It is so relieving to feel understood. I had 27 weeker twins. It was my first and last pregnancy. I understand the grieving experience fully – I am still managing PTSD.

    I also feel extremely grateful for my thriving boys. It’s been the scariest and most difficult experience of my life, but also very rewarding. I’ve learned that it is okay to experience both the gratitude and the grief. There can always be worse experiences. There can always be better experiences. Every time I think of my grief, I feel the guilt knowing how blessed we are that we have our boys. But that guilt hasn’t helped my healing.

    I cannot express how sad and sorry I am for any mother who loses their child – whether by miscarriage, still birth, or after enjoying them in this life. Pregnancy is incredible, miraculous, scary, and difficult. I lay in bed from 22 weeks (with a cerclage after preterm labor) to 27 weeks praying every minute, and asking others to pray, that my babies would survive and thrive. I experienced the fear that I might lose them. I feared losing them in the womb, then in the NICU, and after bringing them home on oxygen.

    I know how blessed I am that they survived and are thriving. I thank God every day for them. I am also learning and believing that any experience as a mother can feel very lonely – whether someone experiences the tragedy of losing their child, or losing a joyful/normal pregnancy, or even having a healthy/full-term baby. Somehow I need to open my heart more to those friends of mine who experienced the normal/healthy/full-term baby and/or easy pregnancy/delivery/recovery and/or have fat babies who eat really well and nursed with no problem. I also need to give myself grace and allow myself time and space to heal. I also extend my love and compassion to those who had it worse than I did. That’s the best we can all do – give ourselves grace and love, and send it out to all other moms of all experiences.

Trackbacks

  1. […] those first days in the NICU, I came to understand that what I was experiencing was grief. I was grieving the loss of a full-term pregnancy and witnessing the birth of my baby. Understanding that I was going through a natural process gave […]

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