In Which I Contemplate Pregnancy After Loss

Since Finley was born, a question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind was whether or not Steve and I would ‘try again’. People throw those words around as though it is the most natural question in the world. I know it’s genuine curiosity from people who were so excited for us to become parents, and yet to me it often feels like people are really asking if we are going to try again because we failed the last time. Or, I guess I should say, that I failed the last time, since I was the one who carried him.
 
Very shortly after Finley died, all of the doctors were keen to tell me I’d be able to conceive again, though they all had varying opinions of when I should try. I couldn’t take in these conversations initially. My milk had barely started to come in, and my body was bruised and battered. I didn’t want to try for another baby, I wanted the one that I had given birth to less than a week previously. I couldn’t comprehend why I would even consider getting pregnant again when in all honesty I don’t think I quite realised what had happened. You can’t imagine the overwhelmingly empty feeling that remains when you spend 9 months carrying another life inside of you and making every plan for a future only to have it ripped away in a moment. We both knew we wanted a family, so Steve and I agreed we would wait around a year before we would begin trying to conceive again.
 
The fact is, almost as soon as the shock wore off, I was desperate to get pregnant again. The thought would not leave my mind even though I knew in my heart it was too soon. The extreme feeling of emptiness I felt was so overwhelming and to my broken heart and empty arms, the only thing that felt like it would slightly diminish this feeling would be getting pregnant and bringing new life into the world. It still is, and yet there is a big part of me that knows that nothing, not even another child, will replace Finley. It won’t take the pain away. It will bring a new joy that is completely separate from my grief.
 
Franchesca Cox from Small Bird Studios recently released her new book, Celebrating Pregnancy Again, to followers of her blog. I’ve been eagerly awaiting it, as I’m a keen follower of her writing. It brings me such hope to hear about life after the loss of a first child, and the joy that she has found since with her subsequent pregnancies.
 
I devoured her words. I found in some ways that I couldn’t relate, as I’m not yet pregnant with Finley’s little brother or sister, and yet in a lot of ways it felt as though she was speaking to my heart.
Thoughts on trying again were inevitable. The urge to hold my own child seemed endless, forceful and growing with strength everyday my arms were empty…
 
After we lost our first child my arms literally ached to be a mommy to a living child. Of course, I missed my daughter beyond words, but I longed to be a mommy again, feel new life growing inside, and hold my own child. I had empty-arm syndrome and it was every bit emotional pain, as it was physical.”
 
I’m not sure if these feelings are the same for every grieving mother, or if the feelings are somehow slightly different for those who lose their first(and only) child. But her feelings seem to perfectly mirror my own.
 
Occasionally I wonder about the reason why Finley died. Obviously it was a horrible circumstance that nobody could have predicted, but as I’m sure any baby lost mum can relate, I feel immense guilt over everything that happened. I wonder if I did something wrong in order for things to end up this way. And in the same token, I wonder what makes me deserve to try again when things went so horribly wrong. That, and the fear that if it was just a random, unfortunate occurrence, how I can possibly look at pregnancy the same again? Fran says “I was afraid. I was afraid of bonding, falling madly in love all over again, and losing what I knew I could not live without… I know and knew then that happy endings were not a guarantee. I was skeptical about miracles.” How can I ever let myself make a plan and have so much hope and love for something, someone, when I know how easily and quickly it can be snatched away?
 
I try to convince myself that losing another child couldn’t possibly happen to us. Even the doctors tell me that the likelihood of it happening again is next to nothing. But I can’t help thinking that the chances of it happening to Finley were next to nothing. We had a perfectly normal, healthy baby boy. He died because of circumstances regarding his difficult birth.
 
“I knew how many things could go wrong in such a short amount of time. I knew that nothing is guaranteed, which is why it always frustrated me beyond measure when others would try to reassure me, and silence my fears by saying ‘Everything is going to be okay.’

No one can possibly know that. No one.”
 
Who is to say that we couldn’t be in the extreme minority of people that this happens to twice? People tell me that I will be looked with greater care in the next pregnancy. My care in the first was very in depth – 9 ultrasounds, weekly monitoring. It wasn’t the pregnancy that was the problem, it was the birth; yet pregnancy is what scares me. The idea of falling in love and bonding. The idea of another soul-destroying loss.
 
Somehow Fran managed to come up with a beautiful mantra that she repeated to herself throughout her third pregnancy (her second after the loss of her daughter). “I deserve this. It is okay to dream. It is okay to hope. Pregnancy can and will be beautiful – for as many days as that may be.” She told herself everything that I am afraid to hope for. The key to it all though is the last part – “for as many days as that may be.” My pregnancy with Finley was beautiful. It brought so much joy and hope into my life. Despite the fact that he had to leave us much earlier than we ever could have expected, I would never wish to go back and undo any of it. I suppose that is the way I need to try and look at any future pregnancies.
 
“The risk [of another loss] was daunting, but never enough to think about not trying again for us. Looking back I don’t know what we would have done if it had [happened again]. It, no doubt, would have been the end of me.”
 
And yet despite all of this, like Fran, not trying again isn’t an option. I am trying my best to look toward the future of having a family and children running around. The guilt I feel for Finley is immense, as though by having another baby it will somehow make me forget him, though I know that isn’t true.
 
When Fran speaks of the birth of her son she says:

“I was able to hold him for a bit. Hear his cry.

Yes. This is how it was supposed to be.

I began to cry as he let out his first sound in this world. The nurse asked me if I was alright.

Oh yes, more than alright. Perfect, actually. I just nodded, and smiled through tears.

I didn’t say anything. I only longed to hold him again. Hold my own child. The child I so longed for, so loved and so hoped for. The child that would restore so much hope and love into my heart and world.”

 
These are the moments that I hope for when I think of getting pregnant again. It fills me with so much fear and hope all at once.

24 thoughts on “In Which I Contemplate Pregnancy After Loss

  1. I get all of this, and totally get the empty arm syndrome. I have Baba and I hug him so much more, I never thought I could hug him more, but I do since loosing Rhianna but he doesn’t solve my empty arm syndrome. I have never heard that before but it is so true. I long to hold another baby that is mine.

    I have held other babies since loosing Rhianna but they are like wooden planks, not one of them fills the void that is missing by her. I am not saying that our next child will fill her void of course they wont, but they will be mine and they will fill that empty arm feeling.

    It is such a scary thought isn’t it and I hate being a statistic as well with regards to pregnancy. I too fear it enormously but also all I want is it and I am in tears regularly when that moment is not there.

    Love and hugs to you both xxx

  2. Jen

    Man, do I hear ya on this. I’m right there with you in all of these feelings right now. I think we do just have to keep reminding ourselves what Fran did–We DESERVE this, however long it is. But we can hope. Hope for everything to just be normal.

    I think we’re going to start trying again soon. I’m terrified and elated all at the same time. I know no child would ever replace Luke. He’ll always be missing. But it’s a step toward our future and a family. For us to lose our first child is so strange…because we’ve been sitting on that brink of true parenthood for what feels like so LONG.

    I’m ready for that. Nothing is every going to make losing Luke OK. But I still want that crying baby. And I know it won’t be him. But they’ll be related. And that’s close enough to want to do this again.

  3. Anonymous

    I hope that eventually you have another child and that everything’s perfect x your love for Finley won’t diminish but your heart and your capacity for love will grow and you will love your child like you do Finley x you will be fantastic patents x you were blessed to have Finley and he and any children you have will be blessed to have you x thinking of you.and Finley xxx

  4. I hope and pray that peace above all else will rule throughout your rainbow pregnancy. Dare to hope dear friend. You deserve this. It is hard not to wrap ourselves in responsibility over our childrens’ deaths. Grief is cruel and relentless. I still feel guilt about Jenna’s death, and like a part of me let her down. Sending lots of love to you xoxo

  5. I absolutely believe you deserve this. You deserve hope, beauty, and a living child in your arms. I know that you’re strong, and with Finley watching over you, you will fill those empty arms. Until you’re ready, I’ll keep following and praying for you along the way. Hugs.

  6. I will say that I had empty arms syndrome and Adelyn was not my first child. I honestly think I will always have it. Right now, I have my rainbow boy that fills my arms, he still lets me rock him to sleep and hold him. But sometimes I wonder as he grows into a boy, and I can’t do that, if the arms will start feeling empty again, more so than the average mom?

    I longed to get pregnant asap after Adelyn. It was 4 months, probably too soon, because I was scared and distant the whole pregnancy. But I looked at it that the longer I waited, the longer I would feel uncomfortable around babies and pregnant women. Having him changed that, although it did not change how much I miss Adelyn, or the guilt I feel over her death as well.

    You deserve another “chance.” And I will tell you, from experience, that even if the pregnancy is the 2nd hardest thing you ever do in your life (first is obviously burying your child), the moment you hold your rainbow in your arms, it will all be worth it. I honestly didn’t bond with my rainbow really at all during the pregnancy, but the moment I saw him, heard him, held him, it was love at first sight and I have never looked back.

    Praying it all happens easily and at the right time.

  7. I feel exactly the same… I’m scared to death of being pregnant again, guilt-ridden about “replacing” (although it’s not possible) my first daughter, and guilty for the future child, with whom I’ll be so afraid to bond with during pregnancy. How can I enjoy pregnancy ever again? How could I let myself fall in love like I did the first time? How can I possibly think that anything good is possible after this? And yet, not trying again isn’t an option either…

  8. I feel the same way. We lost our first son, Samuel, and all our faith and dreams for our family shattered. Now I don’t know what to do. We really wanted (want) to raise a family. Sometimes it seems like his death has forever cast a huge shadow over whatever our family will be in the future. But even though we are heartbroken and hurting deeply (and scared) we still have the desire to add to our family. I’m just so afraid of how I’ll feel towards the new baby/pregnancy. I don’t want their lives to be messed up because he/she has broken parents. And I’m not sure I can survive another, as you so accurately put it, soul-destroying loss.

  9. Wow, I totally hear where you’re coming from. When I had Laura at age 41 after an uneventful pregnancy I heard her cry and was relieved to think that I’d completed my family after many years of trying. What followed was her being diagnosed with a congenital defect and she died in surgery to correct this aged 2 days.

    We were shocked and stunned and utterly devastated. I have found it hard to explain the empty arms feeling to anyone but my husband. I want Laura back but can’t have her so we thought we would try again. Taking into account my age I haven’t got the option of waiting to heal. I fell pregnant 8 months after Laura died but that ended in early miscarriage at 7 weeks. I guess my body wasn’t ready yet. Now I wonder whether to try again or not… perhaps I wasn’t meant to have another child, but I was SO READY to. It’s torture :(

  10. I hope you get the outcome you deserve – I can’t imagine what it feels like to have a hole in one’s heart like this. (And I hope you’re talking to a counselor about it too – forgive me, being from ICLW I’m not sure if you already do.)

  11. I am over from ICLW, and I am so touched by your blog. I can’t imagine what it must be like to give birth and then lose a child so quickly. My mother carried my brother full term; he died in the womb 3 dates before his due date. I hope great things for you!

  12. Just a big hug …. this post brought tears to my eyes.

    Hugs
    Maria
    xxxxx

  13. I didn’t really bond with my 5 month old son until he was born. After miscarrying twins at 12 weeks, I was just terrified through the enire thing…and every time I started to relax at all, some new scary thing would come up.

    But he’s here and healthy. I’m still afraid he’s going to die of SIDS, but when he was placed in my arms I made a conscious decision to let go of the fear so I could make room for the love.

    Wishing you healing and support as you continue on your journey. It may be too soon, but I’m not sure there’s ever a “right” time.

  14. Yes – so much hope and fear. And when that hope is more than the fear, you are ready. As ready as you can be anyway. xoxo

  15. Pregnancy after loss is hard. People will tell u that this time it’ll work out but how can u believe that when things shouldve worked out last time. All you can do is take it day by day and hope for the best.

  16. It was very very hard to be pregnant only five months after Leia died. It’s even harder having him here with me knowing what should have been. But when you are ready you will know.. Remember to reach out to me anytime..

  17. I understand the feelings of fear and guilt and strenght of desire for a living baby…just the general confusion. It’s all so hard. I’m wishing good things for your future and a happy healthy rainbow (not to replace Finley, but to add to your family of three) very soon.

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  19. I’m contemplating pregnancy after the death of my son too. Part of me is excited about getting pregnant again and the other part fears something going wrong. But I have faith that it will be well. So right now we’re not trying but hoping to soon.

  20. I too worry and sit for hours contemplating pregnancy after the loss of our twin daughters (our only children). There is so much more than just ‘trying again’ involved. I cannot conceive naturally, so we have to ‘plan’ everything. We can’t just let it happen. I commend any mother even thinking about trying again after a loss. Together we stand strong.

  21. I feel exactly the same after the loss of my first baby at 5 months pg.

    I have nothing clever to say…I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and that it helps me to read that you feel just as I do.
    I’m so afraid of another loss, and yet I want a family so so much…How to let go of hope and fear and just be?…

    sending you love xxx

  22. Really moved by your blog – you have shared so much that can help others.

    I am not sure how you would feel about it but if it felt right to you I would be really honoured if you linked up at my linky party for all thing pregnancy and new baby – Alice xx

    http://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20Friday%20Baby%20Shower

  23. After my son died I felt the same as you, “how could I do this again?”. But as you said after the shock wore off it hit me. Everything in my body was screaming for another baby. Five months after our loss we got pregnant again. I began as naive as the first time, thinking, this wont happen to us (again.) But then I started doubting everything. How can I trust my body, how can I know baby is ok, how can I be ok not knowing???? Four weeks later I had a miscarriage. I remembered something that I had recently told a friend who was pregnant…to treasure the precious moments because the future is so uncertain. I had done that for a few days but then let the stress of the world overwhelm and distract me. My first pregnancy was so easy and beautiful. It seemed impossible to have the same blind faith again when it didnt prove true. But I reget. So many things. Franchescas words “for as many days as that may be” are so powerful. The pain of another loss is debilitating but I regret not living in the moment and focusing on every precious moment I had with my second child.

  24. I have a 7 month old rainbow baby. I am so grateful that I pushed through the fear and “tried again.” The best advice I received was:
    – keep busy
    – know you are doing everything you can do to contribute to the end goal of a living baby
    – celebrate pregnancy milestones
    – allow yourself to get attached (because you will whether you want to or not)
    – journal (I love rereading my pregnancy journal and I am happy to have it to share with my rainbow when he grows older)
    – cry and demand special treatment because you deserve it!

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