Ever since I lost Queralt I’ve learned a few things about the various dimensions of grief after a miscarriage. Things that have to do with my own experience and others having to do with the experiences of other women who have unfortunately gone through a similar situation.
One of the things I’ve learned is that after a pregnancy loss, you must deal with the grief of losing that child who you will never get to know. But added to this grief is the anguish of possible infertility. Even though everyone keeps telling us ‘you will get pregnant again’, fear is eating us up inside, and all we can think is: what if not? What if we won’t? What if in addition to losing a child, I lost all chance of being mother of a living child?
The reasons for this fear may come from different places: the cause of the loss (perhaps it has revealed us some dysfunction in our own body); if achieving this lost pregnancy has taken us years and years of infertility treatments and we have already lost hope; if fertility treatments have left us with no money left and we can not try it again; if maternal age is approaching the late thirties…
It is also different when you lose a first pregnancy or one after the birth of a living child. When you already have a child, it can be a little –just a little bit- easier to deal with the grief for a second or third lost child. After all, you do not have to deal with the fear of ‘what if I never get to be a mother’ because you already are. But if your idea of motherhood is closely linked to a family with several siblings, then having already one child gives no solace.
Where many people who haven’t lived through this go wrong, is in thinking that once a subsequent pregnancy is achieved and a child is born alive, that one replaces the lost one.
A living child after a loss helps heal some of the dimensions of grief: finally we were able to be a mother, or we finally got a brother or sister for our first child. But that does not make us forget what we have lost along the way.
I never thought of myself having three children. For me, the ideal was to have two. And I never had any predilection for having a boy or a girl. First I had a boy, and when I was pregnant with Queralt and still did not know she was a girl, I had the intuition (and I was wrong) that it would be another boy, and I was in peace with that. Even more, it seemed more practical to me. And I’m sure that if I then would have had a son who was born alive, I would have never missed a daughter.
But it wasn’t so: Queralt was a girl, and when I heard she was a girl and we gave her a name, I began to imagine my life with her. I started making plans for the future, wishes for the future. Which were never fulfilled, because she died.
After losing Queralt I was lucky to get pregnant again. And now it’s a boy. So now I make plans for a future with two boys. I imagine how Lluc will be with his little brother, how they will share games and hobbies (and maybe I’m wrong). But all these plans, all these images of the future can not replace the ones I made up with Queralt. I will have two children, which for me had always been enough, but I will always keep longing for my girl.
It is not that I want my second boy to be a girl, I don’t blame him for being a boy, I would not have preferred for him to be a girl. It’s that even though I had always thought that my ideal family one was with two children, from now on it will always be one with three children.
I recently dreamed that the boy I am carrying now had already been born, but I was still pregnant, or I was pregnant again, with Queralt. And in that instant of sleep, everything made sense, my family was as it should be. Until I woke up and missed Queralt.
Now, in the mental image of my family I will always miss a girl. But not just any girl: Queralt. Because Queralt existed. And she will always be missed. Because people are not replaceable, neither are stillborn children.