I've never been the cutesy crafty type of person. I'm very much a tomboy. But after losing Ian and being blessed with Nathan so soon after, I knew that bonding would be difficult due to the fear and anxiety surrounding his precarious pregnancy. I knew that there were specific things I needed to do in order to ease my mind and connect me with my baby. Nothing overboard. I'm not superstitious and never entertained the idea that I was jinxing the pregnancy by doing these things although I understand others feel very differently and wouldn't get any benefit from the things I did. I just thought I would throw these out there. I will do it in list form:
* I wrote poems to him while pregnant, sweet, deep, and meaningful and I would read them to him often. They were positive and full of peace and love and hope.
* I slept with a medium stuffed bear who was pregnant and had a dress on that said "Momma bear" every.single.night. I'm not one to do something like that but I felt comforted and it put me in the right mindset to keep it together and do what I could to get him hear safely. As my belly grew, Nathan would roll towards momma bear and I felt like I had a little extra help, a little extra support, a little extra something special for the both of us, silly as that sounds.
* I would speak to Nathan CONSTANTLY. I would tell him everything. How I was feeling, good, bad, and ugly. I would tell him constantly how much I loved him and that I would do everything in my power to get him here safely.
* I would speak about things we would specifically do when he was born and as a child, in detail. Fun things, loving things.
* I put his name everywhere. It was SO comforting to me. I found a baby license plate and a key chain with his name (I carried the key chain with me everywhere), a small painting with his name, it was on my desktop wallpaper, and one of those "name meaning" small posters, framed it and put it in his nursery. I didn't do much in the nursery, but the name thing meant so much to me I had to put it up. It made me feel positive, that he was present, which he was, and that eased SOME of my worry. It was definitely good having those things around for those times when the fear and anxiety were overtaking me and my goals weren't clear but instead intertwined with the thorns of doubt, anger, fear, jealousy, and grief. It helped redirect my mind and put things into perspective. I also spoke to others using his name instead of "the baby".
* I talked to Nathan during my pregnancy about his big brother Ian, what happened, how he will always be with us, and I spoke about him often and I realized after awhile that instead of speaking about Ian with the usual sadness and grief.... when I shared with Nathan, it became something else. A story, our story, and our family's story was continuing and it was my job to keep it all connected and real. That eased the pain of Ian's death and helped me bond with Nathan and start imagining what life would be like with a rainbow baby and an older brother for him to bond with.
* I sang to Nathan and rubbed my belly during quiet times. I figured out what body part was what and would massage them through my tight huge belly. Sometimes I used a lotion or candle nearby that was calming and one that I would use for years to come. I would inhale the scents while humming, hoping he could experience it even just a bit. I knew deep down that I may lose him, that was never far from my mind, so I figured I would make our short time together as special and sensory as possible.
* I baked cookies with him, explained each step, tasted the batter, he felt the warm of the oven as I leaned my belly on it while it preheated. We tasted the final product together.
* We had a routine (I did these things with my other son years later as well) but my routine with Nathan was a morning orange juice and breakfast biscuit from Hardees with some Michael W. Smith and Marc Shultz in the background. Every morning. And he responded, every morning. That routine was so special to me, one of my favorite memories.
Nathan loves to hear these stories of what I did while pregnant with him. He fully understands the precarious nature of the pregnancy and that he wouldn't be alive with medical intervention. It's something we share now. And God forbid if he didn't make it, I would have those moments so treasured deep in my heart.....
Yes, a pregnancy with incompetent cervix after a second trimester loss and battling infertility is no doubt, a horrendous and terrifying task. I had the lowest of the low moments one could have in those situations. But peppering in the above little moments and routines and sharing with him DEFINITELY made it as bearable as a situation like that could be. I am not the same Melanie. These things have changed me forever in many ways, good and bad. But those little memories, looking back now that we are finished with our family, those little memories are HUGE to me now and oh so special.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are celebrating the day empty handed due to a loss or because your child has yet to make it to your arms. You are just as much a mother as the woman who has 12 kids tagging along after her. You are a mother in your heart, you go through the pain of treatments and negatives, but you are already a mother putting forth more as a mother to bring your children here, than so many others. Babyloss moms, you have endured the most tragic and important job a mother could ever do for her child. Sending them off from this life with love and honor and respect. Being strong and keeping their memory alive. Doing this while grieving and heartbroken in a society who minimizes the greatest effort a mother could possibly do.... letting go. It's a shame that Mother's Day is the way it is, alienating and separating women, rewarding some, degrading and ignoring others due to things they have no control over. If anything, Mother's Day should lift up those who are Mother's in their heart but not in their hands because ultimately, the mother's getting all the praise and fluff HAVE their greatest gift already, their children. And now that I have experienced Mother's Days as an infertile, a baby loss momma, and as a mother of living children, I can say that the difficulties of raising children-the exhaustion, the sacrifices, the worry, etc. is NOTHING compared to the lifelong grief I carry for the child who cannot be with me. Happy Mother's Day to you all. XOXO