Another Baby? Anticipating a Future Pregnancy After Loss

silouetteOne of the biggest questions everyone seems to wonder (sometimes in silence, sometimes out loud) after someone has lost a child is if and when you are going to have another baby.

Another baby.

Two words that have danced around in my mind and heart now for right at nine months. Two words that can simultaneously make me smile and cry at the same time. Two words that seem to bring hope yet a resurgence of grief all at once.

These two words have been the source of endless discussions between Adam and I, hours of wondering, and days of anxiety. They have been the source of both hope and dread of the future.

To be completely honest, I cannot describe or even sort out all of the feelings in my heart that surround these two simple words.

Note: I am not making a pregnancy announcement. I hesitated to write this post simply because it is of such a sensitive nature and I don’t want to be misunderstood. However, I want to give a glimpse in to what this part of the journey has been like for me. I know that every mom responds differently to loss. I know that every couple has to sort through, pray through, and struggle through this issue themselves. But I think it is safe to say it is a struggle. So here is what I have found and experienced myself….

Another baby.

Many times this becomes an all consuming thought of moms who have experienced loss. Suddenly, you realize how much you love being pregnant. All at once, you would give anything to have another mouth to feed, or be up all night long hearing newborn cries. Empty arms are aching arms that long to hold and nurture new life.

But it is just not as simple as it might seem. Questions, concerns, fears, and conflicting emotions are just a few of the things that can quickly surround thoughts of having another baby. Here are a few of the painful realities that I (and I would venture to say other moms) have to grapple with.

– Another baby will not be this baby. I remember the immediate weeks and months following Esther’s death. I thought about being pregnant again, and I literally felt like if I was pregnant again very soon, I would have to remind myself that it was not Esther. She was not coming back. No matter how many children we may go on to have, there will always be a hole.

– After the death of a baby, there becomes a love/hate relationship with all things related to pregnancy, birth, and babies. What once was ONLY a source of joy, is now a source of deep pain as well. Along with the grief of losing a child, a mother grieves the innocence and joy of pregnancy. Just like her life will never be the same without her child, so her future pregnancies/births will never be the same after loss.

I have felt this change first hand, and have found myself just walling off anything related to pregnancy or babies. Oh, I might talk about people I know who are pregnant, or glance at the baby department as I walk by. But its strange. It feels like it is almost a sub-part of me that I can almost detach my emotions from when I have to. I guess this is a way to keep living in a world full of babies, because if the emotions come, they can quickly take over.

– A new pregnancy has to start over. This may seem like a no-brainer, but to me, thinking about walking through all of the normal risks on top of all the new fears feels overwhelming. I have often wondered how I could live through 9 whole months before seeing my baby safe in my arms.

– There remains a terror of loss again. Recently, I was out for my daily run, and thoughts of having another baby began to fill my mind. I wondered what it would be like and tried to anticipate my feelings. Before I could get back home, I was crying(It is very hard to cry and run, but it is possible:). I felt a little like I was going to hyperventilate and it wasn’t from running too hard! The thought of walking through loss again was absolutely overwhelming. Then, while I was crying and running, I started saying under my breath, “I can’t live through this again. I can’t go through this again. No! NO!” I had to stop myself to realize I wasn’t going through this again, I wasn’t even pregnant. But the terror sometimes tries to overwhelm me. This is a very real fear that must be overcome by moms of loss.

– I anticipate that walking through pregnancy and birth of another baby will bring fresh grief. Obviously I haven’t been there yet, but I can only imagine the constant reminders that would be there. Prenatal appointments, ultrasounds, buying baby things, being in the hospital, giving birth, taking the baby home, etc. etc. All happy things that should be happy, yet are now seen in a very different light.

– There is a strong desire to be “loyal” to the baby who was lost. This one is probably hard to understand if you haven’t been there, but has been very intense for me. My mom hit this one on the head in the days immediately following my loss. She was talking to me about still living life even when I didn’t want to move on at all. I remember right where we were standing in my home when she said, “I can imagine that even thinking about trying to let go and move on makes you feel like you are somehow being disloyal to Esther. You don’t want to go on without her.” I fell into her arms sobbing because she was so right. I didn’t want to go on if she couldn’t be with me. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t even want to move from the fresh place of pain because at least the memories of her were so real.

– Fears that others will think I am “replacing” her or “over it.” This is a really big one. A child cannot be replaced. When we do have another baby, it will be Esther’s little brother or sister, not a replacement for her. She will always have her place in our family, yet it is hard to realize that many people will never know that she is our second child.

All in all, thinking about another baby after loss is truly more complex than I ever imagined. I, personally, have found myself vacillating wildly between desperately wanting to be pregnant again, and thinking that if I can’t have Esther, I don’t want another baby. My thoughts and feelings have been all over the board, and at times, very irrational. I know this is simply one more thing that I cannot “figure out” in my own mind.

Since I have not been pregnant after loss, I don’t know what exactly it will be like. But I spend hours anticipating it. I now look at my friends who are pregnant after losing a baby, and I almost see them as heroes. They have braved it again. They have risked it again. They are courageously moving forward while still honoring and remembering their babies in heaven.

I pray that when God gives us another child, I will be able to trust Him more fully than ever before, knowing that He has a good plan. For now, I am learning to press on, trust day by day, and believe that when the time comes, God’s grace will be there for us to walk through another pregnancy and welcome a third child into our family.

Psalm 31:15 My times are in Your hand…

In closing, please remember that this is an honest sharing of my heart. I don’t pretend to know or understand how all moms feel about pregnancy after loss. I’m sure that some emotions are common between moms and some are very different. If you too have walked through a loss, I pray that you find strength as you wrestle through this whole issue yourself. If you have not experienced loss, please understand just how sensitive this issue is for parents of loss.

I would also love to hear feedback from you.

If you have lost a baby, what are some of the most difficult things for you when thinking about another pregnancy?

If you are pregnant after loss, my prayers are with you. What is it like? How do manage your emotions to get through each day and each stage? How do you try to enjoy the journey?

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