is this your first?

is this your first? // a reflection on having your first child after a loss

If I am being honest, I have been writing this post for six months. At 38 weeks pregnant, time is of the essence, so I decided it was finally time to write it down. When I started this blog four years ago (this week), my naïve, wide-eyed 25 year-old self would have never anticipated sharing a post like this one. My 29 year-old self sees things a bit differently.

As I waddle around doing last-minute errands, I cannot count the number of times I hear the question: "is this your first?" I kindly look at them, say yes, and get on with my life.  Someone in the line at Chick-Fil-A doesn't need to know the full story. When we announced our pregnancy at the end of May, I dedicated a single paragraph to something which has laid heavy on my heart since last October. This isn't our "first" baby. The baby we lost the day the Red Sox won the World Series? That was our first baby. Responding to the question "is this your first?" with a yes feels like I'm denying that child ever existed. In reality, we simply had less time with that little one than we have had with this one. 

I scoured the internet in efforts to make myself feel better after my miscarriage. I wanted to read the stories of other women who had gone through a similar loss. As a result, it took me even longer to drag myself back out into the real world. I even poured my heart into a blog post that I never published. For a long time, I faulted myself for being too scared to share myself with all of you. I realized recently that I wasn't too timid to share it; there are simply lines which I'm not willing to cross with my personal life. My goal with this post is to give you a window into that time -- without unleashing the fear and worry I felt on someone else.

From my own grief, I recognized a few particular triggers. When I saw a pregnant woman, it stung. Follow-up visits to my OB were particularly difficult because baby bumps were everywhere. Pregnancy announcements suddenly took on a new meaning. The few baby things I had around our apartment quickly found hidden homes. It didn't get any easier once we had the clearance to "try again". Getting pregnant after a loss is a tricky thing. There is an enormous part of you that wants to move on and another part which begs you to hold onto the time you had. I knew acutely how it felt to be in the throes of loss. I worried that sharing our happy news would induce tears for someone else. It wasn't until 20 weeks (around the time of this photo) that I made a conscious decision to enjoy the journey. I decided this baby deserved to be celebrated and cherished, just as much as I held onto our "first."

When I found out I was pregnant this spring, we moved forward with trepidation but also hope. As with any pregnancy, there was a risk of loss. {cv} and I made the conscious effort to live in the peace that we could handle anything together. No matter how many books you read, there is nothing that truly prepares you for parenthood. When you become a parent prematurely (either with loss or an early delivery), you face that reality sooner than anticipated. For {cv} and me, our loss simply makes us that much more grateful for our second chance at parenthood. As delivery edges closer and closer, an overwhelming sense of joy has replaced my fear. I cannot wait to see {cv} become a father and see the way our genes wove together to make this special little one.

Thank you for giving me a place where I can share this post and thank you for your support on this pregnancy journey. Most importantly, thank you for reading. xoxo {av}

P.S. I cannot begin to fathom the pain of a loss later in pregnancy, but I know that the pain behind this question would still ring true. I am sharing this post today because I believe every woman deserves the right to privacy. Asking a random woman in Target if it is her first child doesn't change your day, but it could change hers. If you know this pain, share this post and help others avoid it too.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing. Praying for your beautiful family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you so much -- the prayers are much appreciated. xo

      Delete
  2. while I can't imagine this post was easy, it's heartfelt and beautifully articulated. xoxoxo to you and CV

    ReplyDelete
  3. xoxoxoxoxoox INSERT ALL THE BABY HEART EMOJIS. love you so much!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if only Blogger allowed for emoji use ;) love YOU so much. xo

      Delete
  4. Oh Alison, thank you for sharing that. You speak truth and wisdom into a dark place that, for someone who hasn't experienced it, is very hard to fathom. Thank you for being willing to share your story so that others can gain that perspective. It is so helpful and appreciated. Praying for you and your sweet growing family :-) xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you for reading it, Emily. it needed to be said. I hope the perspective is one which can empower others + be some light too. lots of love to you.

      Delete
  5. I've had 3 miscarriages, and gave up trying after that, life is Hal an empty whole and half accepting its not going to work. I've been told I'm likely to miscarry every pregnancy. I'm 42 now and I cannot give my husband our child. It hurts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. my heart goes out to you in every way, Helena. sending love and peace your way -- you're far from a failure. one day at a time. xoxo

      Delete
  6. Thank you for sharing this, Alison. I feel the same conflict every time someone asks how many children I have. Our second child was a son who died within a day of birth from kidney disease (we knew he had it when I was pregnant, so at least we were somewhat prepared). All three of our other children are daughters, and I can't tell you how many times people say things like, "Three girls?! Are you going to try for a boy?" or "I bet your husband wished he had a son." I knew the random stranger at Target is not trying to be hurtful but maybe if people are more aware of how often people have lost babies, they would think a little before asking a potentially hurtful question. Thanks for making the world a little more aware. : )

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've had an ectopic pregnancy in January, where they had to remove one of my fallopian tubes, and then 3 months later had a miscarriage. I'm too scared to start 'trying' again. Thank you for giving me hope.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Im so proud of you for sharing your story Ali. I know it will help others annnnd it's therapeutic for you, so that is just wonderful. You and Chris will make wonderful parents and I am so excited for the arrival of baby V. much love to you both. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for sharing. Miscarriages have been a huge part of my life; I'm that "miracle" baby for my mom. She had seven miscarriages between my older sister and me, and I know she's always held on a little more tightly for that reason. And, of course, there's the fear that I will one day face them if I ever decide to start a family. But it's always good to know you're never alone, and it's no one's fault. Lots of love to you and CV and to the little beeb.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautiful post! Sending lots of love and happiness to you both ... XOXO

    ReplyDelete
  11. So glad you found the courage to post this- it will benefit and ring true to so many other women out there. <3

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are so brave to share this and I cannot imagine the feeling of such a loss. Enjoy the last days (week?) of your pregnancy and happy thanksgiving! xo

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for writing this post. I'm praying for you and your family. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  15. We lost our first daughter at 26 weeks and just had our second over the holidays (like you, I was on pins and needles the entire pregnancy). This question is a terrible one. How do you respond? When I answer truthfully, it is often not the time or place that I want to discuss our loss and it usually makes things exceptionally awkward. When I lie, I feel terrible about it as I am saying the words, like I am dishonoring the memory of our first daughter. This, along with "When are you having kids?" and "When are you having a second?" should be banned! Great post.

    ReplyDelete