If you experienced Season 1 of this family drama, you know what I’m talking about. If you did not–spoilers ahead.
Last fall, we looked forward to an hour away with the Pearsons who we hoped would be our new Bravermans. We met our new friends, Jack and Rebecca and seesawed back and forth between their vintage-filtered years of courtship and family growth with the slightly harsher hue of the present. Oh—but most importantly, we looked forward to the weekly gut punch and tear-stained checks.
It seems crazy to look forward to crying, but sometimes it’s the release and emotional bath our overworked bodies and brains need.
There were many different reasons why viewers felt emotional when watching the show. Maybe it was remembering a first love. For others, the innocence of early marriage and the challenges and celebrations that came with it. Dreams not pursued. Risks not taken. The pressures of holding everyone else on your back.
For preemie moms, it was the first moment we saw Rebecca, round with triplets, that we knew we were in for waterworks. Our guts clenched. At least mine did. We held our hands to our mouths shaking our heads saying “This can’t end well.” We’re now predisposed to worry about high-risk pregnancies because our own pregnancies didn’t go as planned. However, none of us could anticipate that the show would go where this one was about to turn.
Our biggest dread came true when Rebecca went into early labor. Memories of our own premature deliveries flooded our minds, hearts and tear ducts. Remembering how we felt. How our partners looked. The way people talked around us instead of to us.
But the ugliest of all my life’s ugly cries happened when the doctor told Jack that one of the triplets did not survive. There was nothing that could have been done. And that one day he would look back and remember he had, “took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade…”
Dam. Broke. I may have done the hyperventilating cry at that point. Luckily, I was holed up in our guest bedroom alone. I may have frightened my family otherwise.
It was the most poignant way I had ever felt baby loss described. It ripped my own loss wound wide open. Does it every fully heal? But it also described the loss of control and choice. When a doctor tells you your baby is coming today—two, five, eight, 10 or even more weeks earlier than planned.
We saw ourselves in Rebecca. People wanting you to feel things. To be emotional. But nothing resonates except the empty, cold void of no longer having choices or our babies in our arms.
Doctors want you to make decisions or take away decision you thought you would have. Friends and family ask how you are feeling. They usually mean physically. While medications can help improve any pain from the birthing process, there isn’t much to fix the emotional wounds except time.
Like Rebecca, we hopefully also had things to recover for. To make lemonade with. Our supportive partners, family and friends. Other children at home. Or later, another child.
I was alone in my guest room watching that pilot episode of ‘This is Us,’ but because of my experiences, I felt connected to all the other preemie moms watching and feeling the same way I was, blotting at mascara-stained cheeks and snotty noses. I’ll be thinking of you all again when Season 2 airs Sept. 26.
Maybe it wasn’t ‘This is Us’ for you—has another TV show or movie stirred the emotions of your child’s premature birth?