As I walk around now, especially when I’m with Baby Boy, I am hypersensitive to people looking at me. They often look at my belly, then to the stroller, back to my belly, and then to my face. Some smile politely. Some give me a “whoa, you’re really going to have your hands full,” look. And others give me “that” look. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like I’m being judged. And most of all, it makes me feel like I’m a fraud.
“I’m one of you!” I want to shout. “Do you know what I’ve been through?!? I deserve this.” It’s like I want, and need, to defend myself…to total strangers.
The thing is, I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been the one watching the “lucky” woman walk by with her gaggle of children, the all-American family, or the woman with the perfectly protruding belly. I’ve judged them for having the perfect life with perfect kids, even though I know that nobody’s life—or kids—are perfect. But in the throws of loss and grief, it sure feels like it, doesn’t it?
Our therapist used to say to us all of the time, you never know. You never know what their story is. You never know what their struggle is, or was. And it’s true. I thought I realized that before, but I’m finding out that I’m really only understanding it now.
Yes, we’ve been through hell and back, several times. Yes, we deserve this. But so do a lot of other women and couples out there. So while I’m so incredibly grateful for being where we are, I also find myself wondering, Why us? Why now? For lack of better words, I’ve found there’s a certain amount of guilt in being pregnant after loss. For me, there’s internal and external self-guilt. I’ll focus on the external now, but am working on a post about the internal too.
I have some guilt about being pregnant within this community, and it made me nervous to “come out” here. That seems weird, doesn’t it? I mean, that’s one of our hopes, isn’t it? At the same time, because I know what it means to be part of this incredible community of shared experiences and support, I know it is hard to hear that someone is pregnant—even one of our own. On some levels, I feel like I need to justify it to the outside world. Maybe it’s because of the reactions I’ve received in real life from people who can’t quite fathom that I’m pregnant for the sixth time. Or perhaps it’s me. Maybe what I’m really feeling is that I have to justify it to myself.
After going through everything we have, there came a point where I didn’t think I’d ever have a positive experience with pregnancy. And when we lost Sarah and Benjamin, I thought that was it. I was left with an immense sadness that my only experiences with pregnancy, labor and delivery were ones of extreme fear, pain, loss and grief. I won’t say that I accepted it; rather it was just what came to be as we carried on in our changed lives. When we brought home Baby Boy, I didn’t look at adoption as missing out, because I never felt like less than a Mother for not having carried him. Would I have loved to have had the experience? Of course. But he is my son. End of story. I just never thought I’d see another side, and now that I’m here, I’m not sure how to handle it.
I will always identify as a baby loss Mom. And I am also an adoptive Mom. But in my heart, I really just consider myself a Mom, with an evolving role. In the coming weeks, I need to figure out how to get out of my head, let go of the guilt, and embrace this next evolution. Any suggestions?
Did you feel like a fraud? What did you do to let go?