Saturday, October 13, 2012

Being pregnant after loss: Reconciling not feeling connected

This is a continuation of thoughts of my "not feeling connected" post, so if you haven't already, feel free to read that one first. 


In the other post I started to address how I've yearned to feel connected to this baby, yet things that I thought would make me feel "connected" often came with other difficulties.

As I get closer to the end of pregnancy some of these feelings are not weighing on my mind as much as they were a few weeks ago, perhaps because they are overcome with other thoughts now or perhaps because I have been able to resolve them; nevertheless, I still wanted to write about them.

I felt ... I don't know the words for it ... puzzled, frustrated, even a bit guilty for not feeling like I love this baby who is currently in my womb. I know I love him (pretty much every decision I make in my life right now is centered around him), but I wasn't sure if I was feeling it, which was really bothering me. For me I have broken my sort of reconciliation of these feelings down in to two parts:

Loving each child
When I took the time to write about a child it was usually Luke. Though it's been over a year since Luke's death, my life is still intertwined with tender moments of grief, missing him, and longing for him. It sometimes consumes me and my emotions. Feelings are still so strong and poignant. Heartache is still so real. For that I am grateful, because I hope I never come to a point that I don't long for my son. He is truly a part of our family and always will be. Yet this was making me feel like there was a void . . . like I should feel so passionately about our son who's currently in my womb. Shouldn't my love for him be as strong as my love for Luke?

While I was in Utah last month I was out to lunch with my best friend Annie (grew up together since we were 2- and 3-years-old) and her older sister, Liz, and their kids. I expressed some of these feelings to them as we ate lunch at Cafe Rio. How grateful I am for Liz's insight and reassurance as she shared her own experience of when she had her second son. She explained how she loved her first so much she could hardly fathom having that same amount of love for another. Yet once he was born the overwhelming love felt for her first she again began to feel for her second. For me, it was reassuring to know she felt that way. And perhaps other moms do to. I realized that for now it's okay that I don't feel the same overwhelming love for this baby that I have felt for Luke and that my love for him will grow --especially once I get to hold him in my arms. Which brings me to my next point . . .

Being a physical or kinetic person
Part of how I feel connected with people is being with them in person. This is probably true for most people, but for me it's especially true because (whether or not you agree with or have even heard of the "5 Love Languages" book/theory) I fall under the category of "Physical Touch." I feel loved receiving hugs from friends. A back-rub is one of the best gifts I could receive. Physcialy connecting with people is how I both feel and show love. Getting hugs from my nieces and nephew when I go over to their house is the greatest and I usually depart by being sure to give them hug as I tell them I love them. When I hold my nephew, Dallin, in my arms I feel so much love for him. He's not my own child, but when I have him in my arms I can honestly feel my love for him increase.

Recognizing and acknowledging attribute as it pertained to this situation, I feel like I was able to reconcile not feeling overwhelming amounts of love for this baby. I reconciled having more feelings of connection to Luke than I do for this baby is in part because I held Luke. I met Luke. I gave birth to Luke. I got to see his face and hold him in my arms. And for me, that's part of how I feel connected to him. But I have not done that with this child yet. I have not held him. I have not seen him. I have not been able to kiss his little face. So even though he is inside of me and I should feel connected to him, because no one else in the world is closer to him than I am, feeling kicks simply isn't the same thing as holding a baby in your arms!

(On a totally side note: it's getting hard for me to keep referring to him as "this baby" as I write because Trevor and I have settled on a name, but haven't revealed it to our family yet!)

I have finally come to a point that I don't feel guilt for not feeling as much love for this little guy. If anything it is just making me all the more eager for his arrival so that I can hold him in my arms. What a journey of learning and emotions this is!


Oh motherhood!, how much I am learning --about myself, about life, and about love --that I never could have foreseen! 


  1. Oh Shelley. You are definitely an inspiration to all of us! Thanks for posting!

  2. I have felt similarly with my two children - wanting to love them the same amount and sometimes struggling at moments to reconcile the way I feel. I feel that the more time I get to spend with a child and the better I get to know them, the more I love them. And I have found that to be true: I now love my second so much, and still love my first a ton. It's crazy how things work out once you're a mom.

    And I totally agree with your last statement about motherhood - you have to experience it to know it!

  3. I can't even remember how I found your blog. I have 2 sons and then a daughter who was born still last August. It is so difficult to imagine loving another child as much as you do your first. It's easy to think you will have to divide your love between more people. That isn't how love works, though. Love doesn't divide - it multiplies. The more you give it away, the more you have to give.

    Best wishes with the rest of your pregnancy and delivery. I look forward to hearing about life after he is born, too.

  4. Love you sweetie!

    You know another thing I've been thinking about lately because I was sharing it with Annie, I feel more love and feel more connected to my kids when they get old enough to smile, coo, and respond to you. Not that I don't love them when they're newborn, but there's something special about seeing them respond to you that really strikes me. Love is a big, magical, mysterious thing....