When we were trying for baby no. 2 we purposefully kept our pants on the month we knew a due date would fall around Aneurin's birthday. We knew that would be too difficult and we wanted his day to be his. We talked about his due date but felt that didn't bother us because knowing he was going to be induced at 37 weeks, it never really felt like his day. As chance would have it, this baby has ended up being due on his original due date; 9th September and although we have no emotional attachment to that date (especially as we know this little one will be delivered early too), it is a thousand times harder then we anticipated.
Two babies due the same day a year apart. They run parallel to eachother and in some ways that is wonderful because they share a special little bond but in others, it is so difficult. First anniversaries meet milestones, Aneurin's handful of special days are no longer just his and the hardest days are met with added hormones and fear.
Today is one year since Aneurin's 20 week scan. The last scan where we were told 'everything looks perfect'. There were no causes for concern, no furrowed brows, no measured voices or carefully chosen words. Just a first-time mummy and daddy walking on air with excitement and anticipation of their healthy baby boy.
Milestones and memories like today are two-fold. We have the memory of these moments with Aneurin, whether they're full of magic and happiness or heartbreak and grief, and then we have the fear and anxiety of reaching them with Poglet. Her 20 week scan is this Thursday and I am petrified. Petrified that something will be wrong or worse, everything will be fine but then something will be wrong later and we have to relive that rollercoaster again. Our next stop is the 24 week doppler which is where it started to go wrong with too much fluid and a small stomach and after that the milestones and anniversaries are going to come so thick and fast thinking about them makes my head spin.
One of the biggest things women going through a pregnancy after loss have to keep in mind is that this is a different baby. Different pregnancy, different baby, different outcome. I have to remind myself of that every day but it is incredibly difficult to do so when timelines are the same. I've never once thought this baby is Aneurin or woken up and mistaken her movements for his. These pregnancies are vastly different and from day one I've known this baby is exactly who she is. However, the different outcome is where I struggle. We know the likelihood of Poglet having Down's syndrome is very small and all tests have come back very low risk. That's one thing ticked off, but to be honest, the Down's syndrome was never the part I was afraid of. The ASD and OA/TOF that ultimately caused Aneurin's death are not exclusive to Down's syndrome. Any baby can develop those. That knowledge on top of the introduction of probable Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) means my worries aren't as irrational as I'd like them to be.
Having said that though, my worries can be eased. I've asked for an in-depth cardiac scan with the fetal medicine team who cared for me during my pregnancy with Aneurin and if they tell me all is well I trust them. The complications with the APS are being treated with daily injections, aspirin and regular growth scans. If something is wrong, they will know. My care plan is a solid one and I trust all my many healthcare professionals to take good care of me.
Never for a second do I wish we had waited longer or that our second child had come at a different time. She is here for a reason as much as her brother was.
I want to believe that this first year of grief is the hardest. That the first time we reach anniversaries are the most painful but I know that's not true. I'm learning to live with the pain but it still knocks me off my feet regularly. As much as I want to focus on the incredible gift that was our son and all the things he taught us and gave us, I can't help but feel the trauma of his diagnoses and the pain of his loss too.
There are so many contradictions and polar opposites in grief. I see so many quotes from bereaved parents who say they exist in two places and I completely understand that. Even now, I am torn between wanting to tick the days off quickly so I can meet my little girl and have her safely in my arms and desperately wanting to slow the clock down because the idea of it being an entire year since I last saw my son and being that far away from him is just awful. The paradox of grief is exhausting.
Darkness and light, heartbreak and love, lucky and unlucky, fear and gratitude, Heaven and Earth.
I know this will pass, it's the anxiety of a rainbow pregnancy combined with another crashing wave of grief. It will soften though and when it does I'm left with beautiful memories of my first baby, excitement for my second and an incredible amount of love for them both and that is more than worth it.
Mrs D x
Due to my brain having been a bit woolly this week, my 20 week rainbow pregnancy update will be uploaded in a few days.