Pregnancy grief is real, there’s no shame in facing your emotions.
I’ll call it blissful ignorance. I was so happy to be unexpectedly pregnant for the second time and in a state of shock and awe for weeks after discovering that we would be welcoming twins. I was bubbling with the excitement of revealing the news to my parents and close friends. I felt favored and special. That is … until reality hit me hard.
No one talks about pregnancy grief. No one talks about how hard pregnancy can be when it’s not what you envisioned, especially when you’ve been pregnant before. My doctor beamed when I told her how much I struggled in the early weeks and said to me bluntly, “Why do you think I only have two kids??!” We laughed and chatted about all the things no one tells women about the second go-round – how much quicker pregnancy changes things.
Being pregnant before, I thought I knew what I was in for— I expected a walk in the park with some minor inconvenience. I expected to coast through it as a master of all things maternal. I thought I knew it all. But this time around, I have had thoughts I never thought I would have. I have had doubts about my own abilities. I have felt sadness, loneliness, depression, and guilt. I’ve called myself ungrateful. I have been hesitant to open up to anyone. I’ve had to pull strength from deep down.
“I don’t think I can do this.”
I spoke it out loud one morning while staring in my bathroom mirror. I hadn’t eaten anything substantial in two days. I was nauseated beyond comprehension and bone tired. I needed a shower, but the energy required to take one didn’t seem worth it. My hair needed washing. I was dragging myself out of bed once again to face another day on the struggle bus. I couldn’t bear the thought of toughing it out yet again.
“Are you kidding me?!”
Pulling out the maternity wear at seven weeks threw me all the way off. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared to be the size I was with my first pregnancy full-term at only five months. I wasn’t expecting to give up my heels and cute blouses so soon. Nothing fit. Nothing looked right on me. My giant belly hung out of my “big t-shirts,” and I resorted to wearing mostly oversized sweatshirts, maternity jeans, and sweatpants daily.
“Just Deal with It.”
I had to have an honest conversation with myself about what I could and could not do in this real world of carrying multiples, managing a chronic illness, and navigating a second high-risk pregnancy. I followed that up with an open talk with my husband. I needed him to know that I had laid my cape down for good and could no longer play the role of Supermom and awesome wife. I was in self-preservation mode. I needed to inhale calories, focus on gaining weight, and getting more sleep. There were days when laundry didn’t get done, and food didn’t get cooked. There were days where I called in to my job to let them know I would be working from home. I attended ZOOM meetings with my camera off so I could wear a headscarf and pajamas.
“So I’m Not Crazy???”
The book “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy” has been a lifeline for me. An entire chapter dedicated to the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy gave me permission to feel all the feels and then some. The authors parallel the emotions of complex pregnancies with the four stages of grief: shock and denial, anxiety/anger/depression, bargaining, and acceptance/adaptation.
“Hang in There. You’re Doing This for Them.”
This is my daily mantra and personal driving force. When I need to take yet another nap or cancel the day’s plans, I give myself permission. With my little ones in mind, I can force down a protein shake when I have absolutely no appetite or tell my daughter we can’t go to the park because “Mama needs to rest.”
“Pregnancy is Joy, but Pregnancy is Work.”
I am creating humans.
It’s okay for me not to be okay.
My body is doing a lot, and it requires a lot of me, Selah.