34 Weeks

Pregnancy After Loss, Our StoryJoanna ZuidemaComment

34 weeks.

Just under 5 weeks to go until the c-section.

How is it already so soon?

I’ve kept my pregnancy with this little lady pretty close to my heart. Compared to sharing weekly (or more) with Norah, it’s basically been crickets over here. That’s partially because, well, there hasn’t been much to report, which is a miracle we thank God for every day.

But it’s also because pregnancy after loss is a hard and complicated path to walk. It’s a heady cocktail of intense joy and deep sorrow with a dash of hormones giving it a little extra spice. 

There’s a natural adjustment period for any parents as their family expands from one child to two. But when just one of your children will be in your arms, the other carried forever only in your heart, making that transition is more complex.

It’s been hard. The fear that Norah will be forgotten, slowly fading behind her sister’s earthly presence weighs heavily on us. At the same time, we’re also conscious of not letting our grief prevent us from making space for Norah’s little sister to bring her own incredible story to the table.

It’s a strange balancing act between fear and excitement, anxiety and anticipation, joy and grief. Even simply believing that we will likely leave the hospital with a baby (see, I still struggle to make a definitive statement) and the nursery won’t sit empty again is difficult to trust. This isn’t due to any lack of optimism – it’s because we know too much to comfortably assume otherwise.

Not only have we been shaped by our own experience, but as we’ve become part of the larger loss community we’ve heard so many other stories of loss – each one a reminder of how precious and fleeting life is.

So far, this pregnancy has been free of complications. The 20-week ultrasound will likely be the only ultrasound we get and the majority of my appointments have taken less than 10 minutes.

Physically, in both cases, my body has done a great job of carrying the pregnancy. With Norah, other than being tired for the first 8 weeks, I had no real symptoms. 

Her sister is making up for that. 

This time around I’ve had all the classics – the exhaustion, the nausea, the heartburn, the mood swings, and the really fun pain in my pelvis at night that makes me wake up every time I move (I like to tell myself that it’s OK – I’ll be used to being up multiple times a night by the time she gets here).

This girl is a wild one, kicking and pushing all day (and all night – who needs sleep?). Every movement makes me smile, even when it’s at 3am.

She recognizes the sound of her daddy’s voice and is never more excited than when he’s around. (Both have been daddy’s girls from day 1).

She’s a huge fan of everything sweet, which is a strange departure for this salt-loving mama.

She likes to make it known that she has in fact found my ribs and my hips; when she does her yoga moves that means both at the same time.

She’s also undeniably fierce, just like her sister.

No part of the beautiful simplicity of this pregnancy has been taken for granted, but at times it’s difficult to process.

Our only experience with pregnancy is complicated. Our ‘normal’ looked like having weekly/twice-weekly appointments with multiple forms of monitoring and an ultrasound each time, being supported by an entire medical team of highly-trained specialists and staff, advocating for valuing our daughter’s life and watching her surprise everyone by simply surviving. It looked like going into each appointment praying to find nothing new but knowing that would likely not be the case, watching her heart rate drop and petitioning God for each next beat. It looked like being completely helpless as her earthly body failed her, this broken world standing in total opposition to our fierce parental instincts to protect our baby girl  – we couldn’t protect her from this.

Our ‘normal’ involved falling to my knees in front of a crib that I knew likely wouldn’t be used, holding my belly while she danced inside and pleading with God to let us keep our baby girl, begging for her life, every cell in my body crying out for another option.

37 weeks with Norah

37 weeks with Norah

The longer this pregnancy continues without complications, the more it highlights just how broken our experience really was.

This is what we missed with Norah. This ease. This assumption of health.

God was good on our darkest days, and He is still good now. 
Our experience may be broken, but our story isn’t finished.

Norah continues to touch hearts with her story, even from heaven.

And her sister’s is just beginning.