Transforming Grief Into Love During Pregnancy After Loss
We are having a warm, sunny summer in the Pacific Northwest and I’m enjoying my third trimester with Baby Girl #2. I saw Wiggles, her nickname, on ultrasound this morning. She was hiding behind her arm, but I got a quick glimpse of her little nose, lips and chin. She is beautiful and healthy, and I’m loving her more every day.
It’s been a few months since I’ve written about this pregnancy. “Write blog post” migrated from one to-do list to the next and despite wanting to share, I would stop myself before I got started. My perfectionism sometimes paralyzes me from action. Rather than continuing to doubt myself, I trust this post will resonate truth and hope.
Back in January I hired Adam Quiney, an executive life coach, to guide me on a journey of personal transformation. I’d just finished five months of weekly art therapy and I felt ready to approach life from a future-focused perspective. Art therapy was very healing. I worked on everything from grief and personal identity, to family relationships and childhood traumas. My therapist and I agreed I’d made great progress in our five months together and she supported my transition from therapy to coaching.
On a recent call with Adam we explored the anguish I’d come to feel every time a stranger or new acquaintance asked me if this was my first pregnancy. You may have read my blog entry where I explored that question and felt determined to respond honestly every time.
Most moms and moms-to-be would likely agree that pregnancy is an intimate and deeply personal experience. Our bodies morph. Our hormones rage. We have weird cravings, strange aches and pains. We feel every kick, somersault and hiccup. Our partners support us, massage us, lift us off the couch, and admire our wiggling bellies, but the intimacy of pregnancy is the mother’s alone.
Paradoxically, the world is incredibly curious about pregnancy and loves to celebrate it. Complete strangers need to know how I am feeling, if I had morning sickness, if we settled on a name, and how I hope to deliver.
This dichotomy — the intimacy vs. shameless curiosity — captures my struggle. Pregnancy after loss makes these questions harder to answer and until very recently I told the truth when asked if this pregnancy was my first.
My coach helped me realize it didn’t always serve me to tell the truth. His guidance helped me see that by answering honestly, even with strangers, I was holding onto the pain of Poppy’s death and it was limiting my ability to celebrate the life growing within me now. After reciting the tragic story of my stillborn daughter over and over I decided to smile back and respond “Yes.”
The irony is I feel a pang of sadness whether I answer truthfully or not. My sadness will always be there. But as I continue to heal from Poppy’s death I want to celebrate life now and move boldly into the future. People love talking about the life changing transition to parenthood. Rather than fear their curiosity and reject their excitement, I am learning to celebrate it. My heart heals a little more each time I do.
I learned a new definition for the word forgiveness recently. Forgiveness is giving up hope of a different past. Sometimes I cringe when I reflect how destroyed, incapable, and purposeless I felt those many months after Poppy’s death. I resent my grief for the way it tore me apart. I’ve come a long way since Poppy died almost 2 years ago. I’m aware these judgments don’t serve me. Through the lens of forgiveness, I am letting go of hope for a different past. I feel lighter and have more clarity for where I’m heading as a result.
That brings me to an exciting bit of personal news. This past weekend I began a 12-month journey of personal transformation, leadership development, and coaches training as a coach-in-training with Accomplishment Coaching. As a coach-in-training, I will explore my own barriers to love and connection as well as learn how to coach others to live the most meaningful and authentic life possible.
Over the next year, I will work directly with a team of experienced leaders, mentor coaches, and 20 other coaches-in-training to create the greatest life I’ve ever imagined. In the next few months, I will begin working with clients of my own as I build a coaching business. I am very inspired and deeply blessed to be on this path.
I write candidly about my fears in this blog and I’ve received so much support and encouragement in response. Despite my struggles, I am full of love. Change is on the horizon. The possibilities are endless. I’m celebrating it all now.