From the outside, pregnancy seems to be a really exciting time in life. While I totally agree that it is and I am thrilled to be pregnant right now, I was completely unprepared for how much pregnancy would stir up my tendency towards anxiety and also reignite my grief regarding my brother’s death last year. Working through both the anxiety and the sadness has been a tough process for me so far.
In this post I specifically want to speak about my experience with grief as I believe that talking about my emotional health is just as important as discussing the physical changes I am undergoing. I’m going to candidly share with the hope that it brings assistance or comfort to someone else who is struggling in similar ways.
For those of you who are unaware and newer to reading my blog, my little brother passed away in September 2016 at the age of 27 after a long struggle with addiction and mental illness. I haven’t written about my grief journey lately on my blog other than small mentions, mostly out of wanting to protect my mom and grandmother who read my blog daily, but I know that they’re on their own journeys of healing and we all do it in different ways. For me, it’s in writing and also in teaching and it feels wrong not to talk about this here.
We were quite a few months into trying to conceive when I learned of Will’s passing and I honestly believe that in the six months of so after his death, there was no possible way that I could have conceived because I was carrying so much sadness and turmoil inside of me.
Around the arrival of summer, things finally started feeling lighter. I remember taking my friend Angie’s yoga class at 6 a.m. on the Wednesday morning that we were to leave for our Europe vacation and sobbing my way through savasana because I felt so sad that my brother wouldn’t ever have the experience that was in front of me. That trip ended up bringing me a lot of healing and a lot of clarity. I arrived home from it feeling more relaxed and at ease in my body and in my heart than I had been in a long time.
We would end up conceiving the next month.
One of the first reactions that I had over my positive pregnancy test was tears. My brother immediately came to mind and I was so sad that I would never get to tell him and that he would never meet my baby. I shared this with some close friends who assured me that he knew already and would be there with me for it all. Some even said he sent me this baby. The first anniversary of his death was three weeks after I received my positive pregnancy test and his birthday was a month after that. I struggled so much with his birthday. He would have been just 29 years old.
As you guys know, last week I had his two girls here. I feel so fortunate to have this piece of him and for the ability to have a relationship with them. They are funny, smart, kind, spirited and full of love. I see so much of the best parts of him in them. But as I dropped them off on Saturday and began my drive back to Charlotte, I was overwhelmed with grief. I am so sad that he’s not here to see these gorgeous girls grow up and I’m so sad for them that they will grow up without their father. It has really affected me the last few days and to be honest, I’ve really been struggling.
I feel grateful to have tools and resources to help me work through this. My yoga practice and moving my body are huge helps as are my incredible friends who never shy away from talking about the big heavy stuff. And after I sign off from writing this post, I’ll be seeing my therapist. I’ve been seeing her for six years but not regularly as of late. I’ve only seen her once since becoming pregnant and it’s becoming evident to me that I might need to go back on a more regular schedule as I navigate my way through this new life journey.
One of the things that she helps me most with is being able to hold paradox in my life and accept that joy and pain often exist together. And I’m seeing it on a whole new level now through my own experience of carrying a new life as I also mourn his death.
Here I am at 17 weeks pregnant. I think the baby had a bit of a growth spurt from 16 to 17 weeks because not only is my belly noticeably bigger but I’ve gained a few more pounds as well.
I’m going to bypass the survey for this week because a) I’ve already written a novel above that really sums up how I’m feeling at the moment and b) much of it would be redundant from last week.
The baby is the size of a pomegranate and here are the big things happening with it this week:
- Rubbery cartilage is now turning into bone and baby is starting to put on some fat (they’re so so skinny at this point)
- Heartbeat is now being regulated by the brain and beats twice as fast as our resting heart beat – around 150 beats per minute. Baby’s heart is pumping around 25 quarts of blood every day
- Starting to develop teeth buds under the gums!
- Sucking and swallowing skills are being developed by practicing with the amniotic fluid
Thank you for letting me share this journey with you. <3