Loving her doesn’t mean I love him less.
I find myself saying and/or thinking that regularly.
Having a baby after a loss is hard.
Rory Isaiah Hanna was born March 13, 2017. That day started out so very happily. We were going to see our baby via ultrasound for our much-anticipated anatomy scan. We even argued on the drive to the OB/GYN’s office about whether or not we should find out the sex of our baby. The sonographer was oddly quiet, then she stepped out of the room. When she returned she had my doctor with her, and at that moment I knew something was wrong.
“We can’t find a heartbeat, Lindsey.”
It’s crazy how fast a great day can derail. What began as a routine checkup turned into my worst nightmare. I wasn’t supposed to meet him so soon, but there I was, and after his birth came empty arms and details and plans I’d never wanted to think about. A tiny crocheted cap, beautiful photos of a sad day, a little box, and finally, a tree that is growing and thriving in my front yard.
Fast-forward around six months.
I have never before been more terrified to see those two pink lines.
I held my breath with each test and ultrasound. Grief mixed with anticipation, a business partner on maternity leave with her own new baby, the day-in, day-out responsibilities of motherhood, and the normal exhaustion of early pregnancy.
The first sigh of relief came with the results of the genetic screen blood test.
“Your daughter is healthy.”
Daughter?!? But we just made boys! I never thought I would actually have a little girl. And she’s going to be okay!
The second sigh of relief came with the anatomy scan. I kept telling myself I had to get through this day, and then I could breathe a little more, I could enjoy it a little more. There she was, moving all around- healthy, wiggling, and perfect.
“She looks perfect, Lindsey.” We’d officially made it longer than we had with Rory.
The third sigh of relief came with those first kicks and wiggles. Aww, I love feeling her, I thought. I wish I’d been able to feel Rory wiggle around…
“Happy Birthday, Baby!” my doctor said as she was born.
Then came her first cries. She’s finally here! She already looks like all three of her brothers. I wonder how Rory would have looked…
Each and every first is like that, happy and sad. Often when I celebrate her wins I also think about what it would be like to see Rory do those things.
Although I’m no therapist, I really think that it's both natural and normal to have those conflicting emotions. I’m not ashamed to say it took me going to some therapy sessions to get to this point.
If you’ve also experienced the joy and pain of pregnancy after a loss, please know that you are not alone. It’s wise to talk to someone if you need a safe place to unpack the messy reality of grief…
…and if you need to remind yourself daily that loving one child doesn’t negate or lessen the love you have for the baby you lost, that’s okay too.
Happy Birthday, Rory. We miss you.