How This Feels

November 27, 2015

I’ve been asked many times the past month how it feels to have Charlotte here after losing three babies. I appreciate these questions more than anyone could know, because they’re always followed with, “Of course it’s not like she makes everything better.” Yes – exactly. That’s so validating to hear along with the genuine interest of how I feel now.

I think that’s the one thing I’ve constantly wondered when reading other’s stories of having a baby after losing one, two, three or more. How does it feel now?

There is so much else I want to write on. Charlotte’s birth story. Bella meeting her little sister. The first days home. The hospital scares (that thankfully ended well).

But I’m stuck until I can write this part of it. Please forgive me for not being able to have a “normal new mom” outlook for a little while. I knew these feelings might be a possibility, but actually feeling them is different.

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I feel overwhelmed in good and sad ways. I feel like my life definition is bittersweet. I feel like this is a dream.

But mostly – I struggle with the guilt and the hatred of that guilt.

I always bothered me everyone had to apologize or dance around their pregnancies/new babies with me for so long. And still might. A total double standard on my end, since I certainly didn’t want anyone to act normal about it around me, but I also didn’t want to be treated differently. I wanted to be told, “I’m pregnant!” and rejoice with them. And I couldn’t. So instead, I resented being treated like a fragile doll – even though it allowed me to voice my real emotions of, “I’m happy for you, but it may take me a whileto talk with you about it. And I’m so sorry for that.”

Now it’s my turn. So every picture, every post, every update is a reminder to me that someone is reading and seeing and it hurts them. They are probably more gracious and can rejoice for me, but I know so many of you are still waiting and uncertain.

Yet I don’t want to feel that way. It’s not pity – it’s not. But it feels that way and I know I hated being pitied. Poor little Diana with so much loss and heartache. Don’t send her pics of the new baby. So much love and kindness towards me, and I just wanted to have it all go away – and yet…

Does this make sense? I don’t know, I can’t figure out how to word it right.

Survivor’s guilt.

That’s the only word that seems to fit this.

Having Charlotte did “fix” something. It fixed part of the motherhood I longed for again. The tiny outfits, the rockers, the baby wearing, the strollers, the carseats – all the things I wasn’t ready to be done with. That part of it is healing. I adore being a mama to another little one.

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It’s simply strange to do this with all the loss and love and tears that we walked with to get to this point. I feel a bit alone, in my mind and with the communities I’ve found. Much of it is, I’m sure, my perspective for the moment.

The other side of life after loss is hard. It’s hard to grieve and it’s hard to be happy.

It is HARD to be happy when you’ve become pretty comfortable with your sad feelings for so long. I’ve worked super hard at being ok with sad. I am proud of the work I’m still doing. So to have something you desperately wanted tossed into the middle of comfortable sad is uncomfortable. I don’t know how to rejoice for Charlotte yet without feeling like I’ve placed all my loss and that part of my life to the side. I feel like a poser wanting to write and talk on loss so deeply still when I have a newborn asleep on me.

It feels like I’ve lost a little piece of me that I didn’t ever want and now I don’t know what to do when it’s different.

That – even in the midst of the love and the peace – is hard to accept. So I start writing again, in hopes that I’ll find a way to weave this all together again. And I will.

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9 Comments

  • Sarah

    November 28, 2015 at 8:38 am

    “It’s hard to grieve and it’s hard to be happy.” YES. We lost our Eleanor at 36 weeks…just a few weeks before you had Charlotte. We have 2 older girls who bring so much joy…and yet it’s hard to feel happy or want to be happy sometimes. It’s just…weird. I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty. It’s helpful to know I’m not crazy for feeling the way I do, and to know that there is life after loss. <3 You are probably one of the only moms to new babies I can follow right now…because I need the hope. So anyway. Thank you. 🙂

  • Fadra

    November 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I’ve never had to deal with the type of loss that you have and yet everything you’ve written makes total sense. I have this terrible problem of being overly empathetic and it makes me feel too much of what others feel. I know your loss and your happiness and I guess both parts make you who you are today. I hope you focus on all the happiness that lays ahead and I also love that your heart recognizes others just like you.
    xo

  • Shann Eva

    November 28, 2015 at 3:01 am

    This is really beautiful because it's so honest.

  • Alexia

    November 27, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    So glad you have shared this truth with us. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to live with such duplicitous feelings. The grief and the joy. Please know that I respect your journey, and because it is your journey, there is only truth and no judgement only love. Sending much love and understanding to you and yours mama <3

  • Jen Swedhin

    November 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    I love you, friend. Survivor's guilt is real, but it is fleeting. Just feel what your heart tells you to feel, and be kind to yourself. <3

  • Alexis Lyner Wood

    November 27, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    You feel how you feel. And you don't need to apologize for being happy, or sad, or both.

    1. Kristen | The Frugal Girl

      November 27, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Yes, this. It’s all ok, and people who are worth having in your life will understand that. Lots of love to you!

      Soak in that sweet little person in your arms…my heart is so happy to see her resting on you, and I know yours has to be a thousand times happier.

  • Bonnie Kent

    November 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you so very much for writing and for writing about this part. I found you a while back and I have been following your blog. After having our son, we had four miscarriages and then adopted a baby girl last Christmas, only to have her birth mom take her back after 20 days. A friend graciously offered to be a surrogate for us and now we are 30 weeks with our baby girl. I find myself in the same struggle of trying handle all of our loss and grief, while trying to celebrate what is coming. It’s so messy and complicated and I really appreciate you sharing your words. If you ever want to stay in touch, I am writing at http://www.bonniekent.org. Thanks!!

  • Fmbe

    November 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    The birth of our son in February helped our family heal. It took away that horrible amputated raw feeling. It just helped. I like to say that he is good medicine. I also get so much comfort because I, like a lot of other moms in our position, have such a strong sense that he has met our daughter in Heaven. That he is the most recent of us to be with her. He is another link to her. A happy, breathing, chubby link.

    On the flip side, it has been annoying that people who were unconfortable with us post-loss, seem to take the arrival of a healthy addition to our family as an “all clear” signal. No more avoidance or awkwardness. Like obviously now we must be fine.

    I hope your Charlotte will be good medicine for you, too. You do not need to understand how medicine works. You can just be thankful and let it make you feel better.

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