Any woman who’s ever been pregnant can rattle off several questions frequently heard throughout pregnancy. These are my top 4:
- When are you due?
- Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl?
- Have you picked out a name?
4. Is this your first baby?
My daughter Poppy was stillborn at full-term. She would be 18 months old later this month. During my pregnancy, I heard “is this your first?” on an almost daily basis. I would reply to whomever was asking, “yes!” and then answer other common questions they had.
I’m currently 12 weeks pregnant and showing a little bit; however, most people only know I’m pregnant because I tell them. Quite a few are people I’m just meeting or friends of friends who didn’t know me when Poppy was born.
“Is this your first?” they ask excitedly. I pause and gauge whether I’m going to tell the truth. My internal barometer guides me and I take a breath.
“No, actually. I had a baby girl who died just before I gave birth. I was in labor when we found out she didn’t have a heartbeat anymore. Her name was Poppy.” …A condensed version of our bittersweet story.
I knew this question would come up when Eli and I were hoping to get pregnant again. We wondered together how I’d handle it. Maybe I’ll just see what mood I’m in when I’m asked? Turns out I’m in an honest mood. I didn’t know I would be so forthright about such a sensitive subject, but I can’t bring myself to lie. I can’t bear the thought of pretending Poppy wasn’t real or didn’t exist and that she isn’t my first child.
The responses I receive from people vary, but invariably everyone is kind, they reflect sorrow for my loss, and they congratulate me on this new pregnancy. I am tenderly reminded that every pregnancy is different. I am encouraged to stay positive and have faith. I get promises of prayers and lots of crossed fingers. I’ll take all I can get.
It is empowering and healing to speak of Poppy. Her spirit lives on through me. I have a sense of responsibility to continue her legacy and to share the gifts she is teaching me from the other side.
Mommy, she reminds me, stay present. Be here with the life that fills your heart today. Don’t forsake this moment for mistakes of the past or concerns for the future. I chose you and you gave me what I needed. This new life chose you too. You have the strength to get through these next 6 months. You have the wisdom to tell our story. Your intuition is keen. Keep sharpening it. Don’t close your heart to fear, expand it with courage. Be brave.
Poppy is wise. My new baby is teaching me too. Stay grounded. Be physical. Dance. Discover who you are. Dream. Lately on Sunday afternoons I move and groove my changing body during an hour long dance class. Sometimes I cry, overwhelmed by the lyrics and movement. Mostly I smile. I love who I am. I see my little baby bump in the mirrors and imagine the life swimming around inside me. I’m dancing for the both of us. I’m creating joy to counteract the fear.
I am afraid of losing this baby. I am afraid of having to grieve again. I am afraid of missing out on the transformational experience of parenting.
This isn’t my first pregnancy, but this is my first pregnancy after loss. I’m doing my best to stay honest and centered — one day at a time and until I hear my second baby’s first cries.
Thank you so much for reading. If you connect with or appreciate my story, please support my writing by clicking that little green heart and/or leave a comment. Every “recommend” means a lot to me and it helps other people see my work.