Pregnancy, Loss, and Anxiety

Kylie, with her husband, Ben,
and their second child, Camden

Today’s guest blogger, Kylie Gibbons, lives in Massachusetts with her college-sweetheart-turned-husband, Ben, along with their daughter, Camden, and dog, Reese. They also have a baby who was born into the arms of Jesus in February 2016. As a family they enjoy walks around their neighborhood pond, Chick-fil-A, and serving at church. Kylie has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in organizational leadership, both from Geneva College. She enjoys working on political campaigns and leading women closer to Jesus through speaking and teaching. Here is a piece of her story to remind you that you aren’t alone in your anxiety or grief…

I’ll never forget the day we learned that our first baby had left this earth and gone into the arms of Jesus. We were twelve weeks pregnant, expecting to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, instead we were met with deafening silence. February 25, 2016 rocked our world, but at that time we didn’t know how lasting the aftershocks would be.

Just three months after learning our first baby had died, we learned that our second baby was on the way. We hadn’t intended to get pregnant so quickly, and while we were thankful it happened that way, I would be lying if I said I was excited. Yep, I was pregnant and terrified, talk about mom-guilt. In fact, I waited for over a week to take a pregnancy test because I was in denial that we would be walking down this road again so soon after such devastating loss.

Initially, I felt overwhelmingly guilty that we would be welcoming another baby before our grief was even healed completely (as if grief ever really goes away). I was guilty that I wasn’t excited for this new life because I feared that we might not get to meet him/her just like our first. Guilty that I didn’t have the nerve to tell anyone out of concern that he/she wouldn’t make it very long.

It didn’t take long for guilt to turn into fear and anxiety. No sooner had I taken the test than I started to have spotting/bleeding. A clear indication, or at least I thought, that we would lose this baby, too. So just a week or so after confirming we were pregnant, I was heading to the doctor to have blood work drawn and an ultrasound taken to ensure everything was okay… and it was.

The spotting continued for a few weeks and each ultrasound confirmed that this baby was growing and developing just as she should be. While my fears subsided, my anxiety only worsened. I couldn’t get past the thought that the other shoe would drop, that the rug would be pulled out from underneath of my feet. Each appointment was met with anxiety, not excitement. Anxiety during my second pregnancy felt like constant fear. It was a sense of doom that I couldn’t shake. Even after a good doctor’s appointment I would feel a heavy weight that something was wrong with our baby. I over-analyzed every movement, or lack thereof, of our baby— every test result, every normal pregnancy symptom. It was a constant, never-ending worry that things weren’t going to be okay, and it lasted for months. My anxiety ebbed and flowed throughout the months of my second pregnancy, and it lasted through delivery, even until Camden was in our arms after she was born.

I don’t share this for sympathy, or even to show how strong I am, I share it to say, you aren’t alone. Every family experiences loss, many of children or babies, and the effects of loss are life-altering. Each loss and each grief looks different, but they are tied together by the cord of death. I write to say there is hope, even in the middle of the hard, maybe especially in the hard, there is hope. You see, while the anxiety was ever-present, there were a number of things that helped keep it in check along the way. 

The absolute biggest source of comfort was the truth of Scripture made accessible through music. After losing our first baby, we were confronted with the truth that, “Even if not, God is still good.” That truth is eternal and everlasting, but not ever believable. Songs declaring the goodness of God became our anthem and provided comfort as we walked through pregnancy after loss. We purchased an album by Hillary Scott and Family soon into our second pregnancy and the words of those songs, to this day, bring a flood of emotions. But the lyrics, while difficult and necessary, were reminders of the truth of the character of Jesus Christ and His unfailing goodness.

My husband, Ben, was my earthly rock through it all. He gave me space to grieve and work through the anxiety. Sometimes that looked like a reassuring word, but mostly it felt like a warm hug of “I’m here.” He spoke truth to my soul while stepping into the hard and letting me stay there for a while. Ben didn’t expect that I would just move on and suck it up, instead he led me with grace to the throne of Jesus, the true Comforter.

Surrounding myself with people praying for me gave me strength to face each day. My mom and sisters were fundamental in walking me through anxiety during pregnancy. One of my sisters also experienced miscarriage and she allowed me to talk through the hard stuff, the stuff you “aren’t supposed to think or say,” and she gave me room to process it. The rest of my sisters and mom wrote out prayers for me to read as we drove to the many doctor’s appointments we had. The rest of our families checked in on me, but not just about pregnancy, they gave me distractions and conversations that kept the anxiety at bay, even if only for a few minutes.

I knew that pregnancy after loss would be hard, but I don’t think I realized just how hard it would be. You see, this second baby didn’t replace our first, she wasn’t a do-over. She was new life, given as a gift, a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness (though, it is absolutely necessary to say that He would still have been faithful if the outcome were different). Our first baby will forever have a place in our hearts, and our Camden will forever be a picture of God’s grace in our lives.

Anxiety couldn’t take that away from me. It couldn’t steal my joy. It didn’t rob me of life. Anxiety took away excitement during pregnancy, but it didn’t take away the love I have of both of our babies.

For more from Kylie, please check out her heartfelt blog, Nehemama. (The sweet and silly backstory behind her blog’s name is worth the click!)

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