I stared at the pregnancy test in disbelief. It was a digital one, so there wasn’t even a need to figure out if there was a second line or not. Just one word that I thought I would never again describe me.
At that point in time, we had a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and had experienced three pregnancy losses since she was a year old – our daughter Naomi at 18 weeks, baby Kyria at 8 weeks, and baby Jordan at 4 weeks, followed by a whole year of nothing. I had finally accepted that I would forever be the mother of an only child – and now I was staring at my future.
Or maybe not. Because I had no guarantee that this pregnancy would turn out any differently than my previous three.
That knowledge haunted me for the next nine months – some of the most anxious, joyful, exciting, terrifying, confusing months of my life, until my son was born, alive and well. During that time, I met a lot of other PAL (pregnant after loss) moms who were experiencing the same wild mix of emotions and discovered to my relief that in spite of feeling like I was going crazy, I was actually quite normal.
Emotions Babyloss Parents Feel After Finding Out They Are Pregnant Again
If you have ever been pregnant after a loss, perhaps you can relate to this list of things babyloss parents do when they get pregnant:
- Cry. Because you have another chance. Because you’re scared. Because you’re happy. Because you still miss your other baby. Because you’re hormonal. Because you’re normal.
- Pray. Because you realize you have no more control over this pregnancy than you did over the one where your baby died, but God does, and you desperately want this baby to live.
- Worry. About if this baby will live. About if your sudden lack of morning sickness is bad news. About whether or not the baby has moved enough. About what you ate or drank before you knew you were pregnant. About the one-in-four statistics for pregnancy loss and you know at least three other pregnant women, so what if you’re the one, again?
- Count the days to the next milestone, the next appointment, the next time you get to hear the heartbeat so that you can relax, at least for a moment.
- Consider, in some situations, that if your first baby had lived, this rainbow baby might not be here. And then stop thinking about that because it is just too hard to wrap your mind around.
- Decide whether to tell people early (to have support in case the baby dies, to celebrate every minute that you have, etc.) or to hide from the world so you can avoid all of the questions and advice givers.
- Think carefully about how to answer the question, “Is this your first?”, especially if you don’t have other living children yet.
- Grieve, because you haven’t forgotten your child in Heaven, but it seems like everyone else has. Because joy feels like a betrayal of your child in Heaven. Because you miss your other baby but want this one, too.
- Feel guilty for any negative, complaining thought whatsoever, whether it is an achy back or trouble sleeping or swollen feet or disappointment with your baby’s gender because you said that all you wanted was a healthy baby so why are you complaining?
- Hesitate to decorate the nursery or buy anything but the most minimal of baby gear until you know that he or she is coming home with you. And what you do buy, you make sure you can return it, just in case. Same for maternity clothes.
- Feel proud of yourself if you actually removed the tags and washed a few sets of clothes before your due date.
- Remember what season it was in your first pregnancy when you were at the stage that you are now.
- Wonder what kind of older sibling your baby in Heaven would have been.
- Have two birth plans in your head, one if the baby lives and one if he doesn’t. Because if you plan for it this time, maybe it won’t happen.
- Exhale when your living baby is born and cries for the first time. Go ahead. You’ve been holding your breath for the last nine months at least.
Resources Available to Help You Through Pregnancy After Loss of Baby
If you are pregnant after loss, or have been, does any of this resonate in your heart? The journey of pregnancy after loss can feel like a long and lonely one, fraught with worry and tension. But it doesn’t have to be. There are some wonderful resources designed for those who are expecting after loss, both in print and online. There is also local support here in the greater Columbia area, both for loss and for the journey of PAL, through Naomi’s Circle, a ministry that my husband and I began to reach out to parents of babies in Heaven.
The list above? Totally normal. But with the support of others, you can go beyond normal and learn to enjoy this time of preparing to meet your new baby, even while you remember the one you are still missing and will never forget.
Expecting with Hope by Teske Drake
Celebrating Pregnancy Again by Franchesca Cox
Expecting a Rainbow Journal by Stephanie Dyer with Beyond Words Designs
Rainbows and Redemption, edited by Melissa Cummings and Kristi Bothur – free e-book devotional written by ten PAL women who understand the journey
Pregnancy After Loss Support – website and blog for pregnancy after loss
Hannah’s Prayer PAL forum – one of many forums in the Hannah’s Prayer ministry for women dealing with fertility issues
Naomi’s Circle – PAL resources – list of resources, both in print and online
Naomi’s Circle – monthly support (online and in-person) for both loss and PAL
What helped you when you were pregnant after a loss?