I remember when I was pregnant with Wyatt spending my days going on walks, lying on my bed daydreaming about his birth, endlessly reading inspiring books about natural birth and parenting.
I loved my evenings at yoga and meeting friends. I took pictures of my bump and wrote stories for his baby book. At night I would put belly buds on my tummy and play music and books Eric had recorded to read to him. It was a truly magical time, and I felt so deeply connected to this little guy I had not even met yet.
I am 28 weeks into my second pregnancy.
Life has been very different this time around.
My first three months I was pretty sick. There was not one moment of the day where I didn’t feel nausea and the need to lie down for a nap. I felt I was walking through a fog and couldn’t quite be myself. I worried about my relationship with Wyatt because he is so emotionally connected to me, I feared he would find my constant need to lie down or more quiet behavior as a reflection on him.
I couldn’t ignore what was happening in my body, but it was also important for me to constantly communicate with him and to consciously work on my mood to try and be the ever-present mommy I had always been.
My first ultrasound photo was incredibly special. The ultrasound technician gave Wyatt the picture of our little yolk sac, and we all sat quietly listening to the fast beating of the baby’s tiny heart. Wyatt ran through the doctor’s office holding the picture yelling, “Wyatt heard the baby’s heartbeat.”
Yes he still speaks in third person and every time he says “l” instead of Wyatt it makes me sad because I know soon that cute toddler trait will go away.
Around week 10 we got the blood results back that we were having a baby girl!!!
I loved having a boy so much that I didn’t care what we were having as long as the baby was healthy. I will say, though, when I got the phone call that it was a girl, I cried with joy.
After 14 weeks the fog lifted, my bump was out, and I was feeling great.
This is where life shifted.
My Dad 53 years of age had been diagnosed two years prior with dementia. He had started having digestion issues caused by the Lewy Body dementia and was rapidly losing weight and declining at a pace none of us saw coming.
I flew to Arizona where my parents live and spent a week assessing the situation and reaching out to doctors and friends on the best path for him. He was then assigned in-home hospice.
For the next 10 weeks I flew back and forth to Arizona to help take care of my dad. We spent many days reflecting on our memories and talking about the new baby coming into our lives. My brother, his wife, and children were there and we sang him songs, talked about our childhood, shared our hopes and dreams, and discussed his life, his greatest joys, his lack of regret, and his acceptance of death.
On April 20th my father passed away. Tears come every time I think of him not being here anymore. I am wetting my cheeks even now writing this sentence. It’s painful, and heartbreaking. He was so loved by us and his community. He was so young and happy…and after 36 glorious years of marriage still deeply in love with my mom.
I am sharing this story with you because this loss was happening while the most beautiful life was forming inside of me.
When I got back from my trip in February, realizing that Hospice meant “end of life care,” I knew I needed to see someone to help guide me through this very emotional journey.
My beloved friend, Chiropractor, and all around activist for Informed Choice, Dr Elliot Berlin gave me the greatest gift by introducing me to his wife and Perinatal Psychologist, Dr Alyssa Berlin. Her experience as a Postpartum Depression Expert, Parent Educator, Doula/Labor Support Specialist was exactly what I needed to help me sort through all the emotions I would feel over the next few months.
I reached out for help during this time, terrified that in losing my father I would somehow lose my connection to the little girl inside of me. I feared it would make all the chemicals in my body a swirling stew of sadness that would in turn affect her fragile development.
Just reaching out for help was the beginning of the balance I needed during this time. As the days and weeks progressed, the hardest moments for me were the evenings when my mind would flash to my time as a child in my daddy’s arms. The tears would come. The sadness was overpowering.
Throughout those paralyzing moments I always talked to my baby. When I would cry or feel overcome with stress or sadness I would tell her about it and connect with her so she would know that mommy was heartbroken and sad but that we were going to be ok; that this was all part of the cycle of life; that we can be heartbroken without breaking. This was so helpful for me. It feels a little silly at first; like can she really hear me can she understand that I am talking to her? But yes she can, and she does; and, the more I would communicate, the more connected to her I would feel.
Being pregnant during this time in my life meant that I was not working and I was able spend all this important sacred time with my dad. This new little life brought us a centering sense of joy and hope for our future.
I felt and still feel she has carried me through these months and helped me with a loss I know would have been much harder without her. I’m grateful for this little life and the perspective and beauty she has brought me even now still months before she is to be born.
The journey continues… I’ll keep you updated with the weeks ahead.