Grieving what wasn't

Last week, I saw on Social Media a little note that said: It's ok the grief the pregnancy you wished you had. It was simple yet powerful and it got me thinking. I started thinking about the two amazing pregnancies I have experienced. The differences and the similarities. It also got me thinking about my birth stories, all that went as I planned and all that didn't. But, what hit me the most was when I thought about the fourth trimester period with both my kids. That's what I have grieved the most.

Now, when Michael is 5 months and I'm experience being a mom a second time, I realise how much I missed the first time. With Matthew my Post-Natal Depression was so bad that I can hardly remember him. I can barely grasp memories pasted together thanks to some photos on my phone.

It's amazing how much PND took from me, from my little boy, from our family. How much joy wasn't there, how much bonding got lost, with fear left in its place for over a year, with broken pieces left of the months when we were supposed to melt into a happy family.

I'm grieving now because this time around my mind is clear, so I'm savouring each day, each cuddle and each smile. By living this all over again I get to experience what I didn't before... And on one hand, it makes me deeply sad because Matthew and I deserved this happiness since day one, yet we didn’t have it. But on the other, it fills me with the great joy to be able to experience it at all now with Michael. Let's just say that I know what I missed because this time around I have it.

Now, this isn't about being bitter or upset. This isn't even about PND and what this sneaky condition takes from so many moms and families. This is about grief. It's about how important it is that we allow ourselves to feel it. To savour it. To acknowledge it. To accept. Because when we do so healing begins and we start having a chance at recovering.

I have met so many mothers and fathers who experienced pregnancies, deliveries and post-natal conditions that have left them traumatised and upset, but haven't been able to work through their emotions because their grief was met with dismissive comments (á la: "At least you have a healthy baby" and "There's people who are far worst than you") or with plain judgement ("Oh, don't be silly!").

But this is the thing: their emotions are valid. All of them. Our grief is valid and real and deserves to be heard and dealt with healthily. Our society has a thing about strong emotions. It's like we fear them or something, and so we come up with phrases to keep us from experiencing them.

Well, I say that's not ok. That's actually detrimental and is only adding more pressure to our already stressed lifestyle. It's keeping parents and families from healing and moving on. It's keeping life small and limited instead of pushing us to work and process so we can truly thrive.

It's time to change this. It's time to validate our journeys instead. It's time to say: "yes, I have a healthy baby, but what it took for it sucks". It's ok to feel this way. It's ok to grieve for the conception, pregnancy, delivery, lactation journey, fourth trimester and motherhood that you wished you had but didn't. It's ok to feel cheated, sad, disappointed and confused. It's ok to wish things were differently. It's ok.

Grief isn’t only about death. It can also be from the hopes we had and didn’t survive the journey… and the moment we start feeling it and stop trying to analyse and control it, that's when we start to heal and move forward... That's when the magic begins!