On Being Pregnant While Grieving A Loss
A day after my mother’s funeral, my dad and his wife came to visit my husband and I for a few days. We ordered dinner from this Italian restaurant that we love and not even half way through the dinner I noticed how nauseous I was feeling. My step mom joked in saying; “You must have a bun in the oven!” I laughed and immediately dismissed the absurd notion of me being pregnant. After all, my husband and I weren’t trying and with all the stress that I had been facing over the past few months there was no way shape or form that an embryo could survive!
I knew how stress affects a woman’s cycle so I assumed that I was late with my period because of stress naturally. A day after my dad left to go back to Florida, I went to Target to pick up a pregnancy test. I figured that this would kill any suspicion right away and calm my mind.
The first test was positive.
“What?” “How?” “No….” “It couldn’t be…” I thought to myself
The second test was positive. As if the first positive test wasn’t enough.
“There’s no way,” “Unreal,” “No….” “It couldn’t be…”
The third test was positive.
“Oh my god this is real!”
I picked up the phone right away to call my husband to see when he was coming home. I was in so much disbelief I could barely contain myself! I said to him that there’s something I need to tell him and I need him to come home as soon as I can.
Shortly afterwards he walked in the house and took one look at me and said, “You’re pregnant, aren’t you!” I was speechless in that moment and I could do was nod my head, “yes!”
The warmth of his embrace was as if this was the news he had been waiting for. It was a huge relief! The news was both frightening and exciting at the same time and considering my mom passed away only a week earlier; it was truly one of the most bittersweet moments in my life.
Just a month earlier my mom said to me one day out of the blue, “What would you name your daughter if you had one?”
I laughed a little because it was the last thing I was thinking about at that time. I had just gotten married a few days earlier and becoming someone’s mom seemed like quite the daunting task! She had never asked me about having kids in my life. Matter fact, we had never really even had discussions of family in the future or anything like that.
My life at that time was a bit of a mess to be frank. Between the chaos of taking care of my mom while going to work and applying for physician assistant school was enough on my plate—or so I thought. The last thing I was thinking of was becoming a mom. But then again to quote one of the greatest rock and roll legends of all time,
“You can’t always get what you want,
But if you try sometime,
You just might find,
You get what you need.”
Life/God/The Universe (however you want to call it) doesn’t give us what we want 100% of the time. That is what makes life so interesting. In a world of instant gratification however, this concept can be a bit disheartening. We are used to the constant connection to everyone and everything. At any moment I can reach in my purse, pull out my iPhone and research any piece of information that I need. Likewise, I can text anyone of my friends or family and I can expect them to text me back almost instantly!
THIS IS NOT HOW GRIEF WORKS.
Grief is definitely a process, one I am still working through. It certainly requires a lot of patience, forgiveness and compassion—-not just for ourselves, but also for all of the people around us.
A few weeks after my mother died, one of my old supervisors called me out of the blue asking about how my mom was doing. When I told him that my mother died his response was quite appalling. He said, “I’m sorry to hear that. Well, life goes on.”
I wanted to scream. This reminds me. Note to self: Write a blog post on what NOT to say to a grieving person.
All kidding aside, he was right. Life does go on. Although it’s certainly not the thing I wanted to hear at that time, he was right. So, there I was pregnant and preparing to usher a new life into this world. It wasn’t the time to fall a part and it wasn’t the time to be engulfed by sorrow.
I made it a point to myself that I would allow myself to cry when I need to, but I would try my best to remain as positive as I could about the whole experience. In that moment I realized there are things/people/events that come into our lives and it is our choice how we want to take them.
My choice was to plunge forward. It wasn’t just my life at stake anymore. There was an innocent life that deserved to be born into a stable household whose only job was to be loved. I knew the focus had to be on the baby. This is not to say that anyone should just stuff their emotions down and pretend like nothing has happened or to forget the person who has passed. That is not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is that there are ways to manage and work through grief while still allowing ourselves to enjoy life and all it has to give. What’s the alternative? To be stuck. Stuck in sorrow. Stuck in anger. Stuck in guilt. Stuck in fear. It’s just not a way to live. Sadly, I have seen some of my own loved ones take this route.
One thing I have learned is that there is choice in everything we do. While we cannot choose what happens to us, we can choose our response. Life is a balancing act of letting go and holding on. If we can focus on the good while learning to let go of the bad, we can get through this painful and see what is on the other side of grief.
What is the other side of grief, you might ask? The other side of grief is gratitude. Gratitude in grief? What, What?!? Gratitude is the bridge between grief and healing. It allows us to remember the loved one in a positive way by being thankful for having them in our lives. It allows us to shift our focus from the sorrow and pain to the positive, which is the memory of what that person meant to us.