Dealing with the death of a loved one during pregnancy.
My daughter is 10 months today and I suddenly thought – how the hell did that happen?! Like, seriously, how did I get here? There were moments in my pregnancy I was convinced I was going to keel over and not get back up, and I was ok with that. Because in all honesty it was horrible and being on the ground was much more appealing. Some might say my daughter gave me the strength to get up and keep moving but the truth is it was out of necessity – the pelvic pains and urge to pee constantly was no joke. Anyway, whatever it was that got me here I’m now grateful for because I look at my daughter and I’m beyond excited for her future and I know now that I want to be a part of it for as long as possible – believe it or not, I wasn’t sure of that for a while.
During my pregnancy, my youngest brother died very suddenly. He was 19.
No age at all really. He had just started university and was finally finding his way in the world but had achieved so much in his life too. He was just..well…a wonderful human being – as my sister would say. I’m from a complex family and grew up with three of my siblings, him being the only boy. So when he passed, as you might imagine, it hit that little bit harder. Carrying my daughter made the experience all the more surreal. For a moment I wondered if he had to lose his life for my daughter to have hers and then I thought about my mum and couldn’t begin to comprehend the pain she must have been feeling but I knew it could have killed her if she let it. Then two weeks after, my mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer and let’s just say the week of my due date her chances weren’t looking too good. Then my husband had a sudden attack of sciatica and couldn’t get up from the floor so at one point I was stuck in the sofa impression I’d created and he was stuck on this back like an overturned turtle and we both looked at each other in despair praying my contractions didn’t decide to add fuel to the inferno. Thankfully our daughter gave us an extra 2 weeks to get our shit somewhat together.
To say I felt lonely during my pregnancy is the biggest understatement. Literally, no one was physically or emotionally available to deal with my crazy on top of their own. They did try though, they really did, but it was tough for everyone. My friends were incredible but I’m not the most open book, I really really struggle with expressing my emotions and trusting people with them, so they wouldn’t have known the full extent of what I was going through. Looking like I have my life together is the only narrative I know how to convey but I believe in authenticity so if you ask me, I’ll be the first to tell you it’s a lie too. Ultimately I felt massively disconnected from my daughter as a person growing inside me. She felt more like a treasure I’d been entrusted to keep safe at a time I didn’t really feel up to the job. Somehow I forgot that I needed to care for myself to take care of her – actually, I still do forget. I didn’t drink anywhere near as much water as I should have and sometimes forgot/felt too sick to eat. Did I mention my sickness never went away until she was literally born?! But continue growing she did and as I reflect I can’t help wonder at the enormity and fragility of life. The fact that she is here, I know now, is an absolute miracle all on its own and separate from the miracle of my brother’s life, as short as it was. At only 10 months she is a force of nature and while I might have been preoccupied while carrying her, she cannot be ignored now – she would never allow it! She also has an amazing relationship with her granny, who’s now in remission, another miracle which catches my breath every time I see them together.
So in conclusion, today, while I’m mentally exhausted, three dress sizes – yes three – bigger than before I was pregnant and still slightly traumatized by the whole pregnancy/birth/ongoing motherhood experience, I am also overwhelmed with gratitude. Not just for her 10 months but her uncle’s 19 years, her mother’s 32 years and her granny’s unconditional love – it’s all a bloody miracle!