What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Wendy.





What I want you to know is how emotionally crushing it is to be pregnant
again after losing a baby. I lost my first child, my son, 31 weeks
into my pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant 4 times since my son died, and
have 2 beautiful daughters. Each of my pregnancies was fraught with
problems, filled with weekly and even daily doctor’s appointments. The
last one, the one that lasted the longest, was the most difficult of
all.

I want you to know that I’m glad my first pregnancy was
perfect until the day my son died, because it was the only perfectly
happy time I’ve ever been granted in pregnancy. While other women gripe
about weight gain, fat cankles and morning sickness, I adored being
pregnant from the start. I glowed. I was so happily pregnant, I could
have stayed in that state forever. When I learned my son had passed
away, my life folded in on itself in an instant, and the life that
unfolded before me was a nightmare that I could never have imagined
living.

I want you to know that my third pregnancy was 6.5 months
of fearfulness and dread that made me want to hide in a cave. I feared
losing my daughter every day, and every day, I had someone tell me that
everything was going to be okay. I want you to know that telling a
mother who has lost her child that everything is going to be okay is
essentially lying to her face. “How do you know? Did God tell you
that?” The comment “It won’t happen twice” would burn me – I knew
people who had lost two babies in a row or in a lifetime. Deep down, I
don’t think I ever could have accepted that would happen to me, but the
death of my son taught me that “those things” do not just happen to
“other people.” Everything was not okay in my case: the day she was
born, my daughter came within hours of her death. Again, I felt a lack
of movement, just as I had in my first pregnancy. I went to the doctor
and she was delivered by emergency c-section at 28 weeks due to
restricted blood flow in her cord. The doctors agree she had less than
2-4 hours before she would have joined my son in death. I want you to
know that her premature arrival only added to my venom against people
who tell me that everything is going to be fine. (I also want you to
know that she is a thriving toddler and the miracle of my life.)

I
want you to know that those benign things that everyone says to
expectant mothers are slaps in the face to a mother who has already lost
a baby. “Is this your first?” is so plain a question, but to me, it’s a
conundrum that takes me back into the pit I fell in when my son died.
“No, it’s my second,” brings on the subsequent question “Oh! How old is
your first?” “He died.” Silence. Minced smile and scrunched up eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” End of conversation as the questioner slides away,
sorry she asked. But if I respond “Yes, it’s my first,” in the interest
of easing the conversation, a knife slices my heart – the open betrayal
of the existence of my first child. It’s a betrayal that I find
impossible to make, so I always err on the side of making the other
person uncomfortable through acknowledging my loss.

I want you
to know that platitudes don’t make a woman who has lost a baby feel
better. “Don’t worry” belittles my very real, very valid feelings. If
your only experiences of pregnancy were loss and failure, wouldn’t you
worry too? During my fifth pregnancy, I was told by many a family
member, friend, and co-worker to “try to enjoy my pregnancy.” I was way
beyond “enjoyment” and was focused on fetal survival. I had 4
pregnancies in my wake, all of which ended in different tragedies: a
stillbirth, a tubal, a very premature baby, and a miscarriage. Telling
me to “enjoy” my pregnancy is like telling someone in battle to “enjoy”
the view from the front line – with the range of medications I was on
and the history my body has of killing babies, I was literally in a
mortal struggle for both my own and my child’s life. That comment also
made me feel like I was taking something from my baby – taking the
bonding she deserved in an effort to just survive the time. It’s not
true. Plenty of women adopt babies and bond fantastically. Plenty of
women have surrogates carry their children, and they bond perfectly
well. I want you to know that “enjoyment” is not necessary in
pregnancy, and telling someone with a difficult pregnancy history to
“enjoy” their pregnancy is adding that tiny bit of stress and
emotionality that could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

I
want you to know that I woke up multiple times every night during my
subsequent pregnancies to feel the baby kick. I want you to know that I
visited the doctor daily for testing. I want you to know that I
injected myself twice a day with drugs to keep my blood thin enough to
sustain my pregnancy. I want you to know that I quit doing most of the
activities I loved – exercise, sex, travel – in an effort to have no
regrets if I lost this baby too. I want you to know that I woke up
every morning wondering if my baby were still alive, waiting, waiting to
feel a kick. I want you to know this wore me down, this broke my
spirit. There was no time I could rest and enjoy being pregnant. There
was no time I felt safe.

I want you to know that it’s hard for
me to listen to and participate in all the pregnancy talk at baby
showers and moms groups. You don’t want to hear my labor stories – 18
hours in labor to deliver my dead son – put under general anesthesia to
deliver my daughter, only to not hold her for days while she’s in her
isolette in the NICU. My history frightens you. And that fear keeps my
mouth clamped shut tight and keeps me forever separated from you. I
want you to know that I’m tired of answering the questions “What did you
do wrong?” I did nothing wrong, and what happened to me can happen to
you. I hope to god it never does, but I am not special in any way.

I
want you to know that my last pregnancy ended well, with the live birth
of my daughter at 36 weeks.. I want you to know that the dread, the
fear, the stress, that made my life hell, that made me a terrible mother
to my living child, that made me a terrible spouse to my husband, that
made me a complete bitch to my neighbors and friends, is gone. I want
you to know that horrible burden is not forever, and if you are a mother
who has lost a baby, you can make it through another pregnancy if you
choose that as your path. I want you to know that there will never be
guarantees – many women are put through the hell of loss many times –
but that you are strong enough to try again for a new dream and there
are women who have done it before who can help carry you through it.