Mom Guilt

January 29, 2020

By Sanda Rathamone

"Transitions are a part of life, allowing for perpetual renewal. When you experience the end of one chapter, allow yourself to feel the emotions of loss and rebirth. A bud gives way to a new flower, which surrenders to the fruit, which gives rise to a seed, which yields a new sprout. Even as you ride the roller coaster, embrace the centered internal reference of the ever-present witness." -.David Simon

We are now 28 weeks pregnant with Elijah's little brother, Benjamin. It feels good to finally reach the third trimester, which is something we didn't have the opportunity to experience the first time. Leaving the second trimester behind is like waking up from the nightmare of what had happened to Elijah.

Yet, like a hangnail, there is this small piece of anxiety that history could repeat itself. My worst fear is that all of the hard work in keeping and gestating this pregnancy will go spinning down the drain. But, with the cerclage in place and seeing that we are now 8 weeks past the time when Elijah died, it's becoming easier to "relax." And by "relax," I mean letting go of my never-ending fears and trusting that everything will turn out... the way it should have been...

Lately, I have been noticing that as we reach these exciting weekly milestones with Benjamin, I feel this silent, lingering guilt knocking beneath the surface. This wrongness of feeling happiness and joy from being pregnant with a child that is not Elijah. As if it is a sin or that feeling anything, but grief would dishonor him. I cannot deny that every kick, roll, and punch felt from Benjamin reminds me of how I didn't get to feel Elijah in the same way.

Feeling Benjamin move and animate with life inside of me is thrilling, while at the same time, my heart craves and yearns for these fun adventures with Elijah, leaving me confused and utterly wounded. Sometimes, I feel this jealousy of my own pregnancy; of how unfair it is that Elijah had to die so soon. I find that admitting these emotions and facing them is too raw, it hurts to feel this way and I don't want to. But I do.

It's unfair to Benjamin and I don't want him to ever think that I don't love him or that I don't want him. Or that I am ungrateful for this second chance to "try again" and "start over." I am just so confused on how to balance the joy with the sorrow, the gain with the loss, the now with the past. I guess what I am going through is like experiencing stillbirth all over again. I am having to (re)learn how to adjust to living life alongside death... how to continue moving through life full of painful polar opposites and muddy grey areas.

Pregnancy after loss is just that: opposites and everything in between, and it is never safe to feel or be or do it all, or at least, not completely. I cannot be fully happy nor fully sad. I cannot be genuinely excited. Surprisingly, the one feeling that never ceases to stay by my side is gratitude. I feel grateful every day, even with the confusing soup of emotions; it's what keeps me going and I thank God for this.

At last, my hope is that Benjamin would forgive me for being sad when I should be happy, for days when I miss Elijah and forget to say hello to Benjamin, and for the times I should be crying tears of joy, instead of sorrow. I am trying the very best I can - to love it all.

With love,
Must Read:
Read Elijah's Story, "From Gender Reveal to a Spontaneous Delivery"

Photo: odinparker

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