One of the most common questions I come across is “How do you know it’s time to have another baby? How do you handle it? What is having a new baby like after loss?” I don’t know personally what it is like because I haven’t taken that step yet myself, but I’m sure a new baby renews hope, but doesn’t replace worry… Here is a story from Laura Meindel about her journey through trying again (and bringing home baby) after loss.
Prelude: I was asked by Kari over at Masons cause to guest star a blog on Pregnancy after Loss. I am thrilled to do so.
Pee on a stick. Two pink lines. Cries of joy and happiness. Blissful pregnancy. Happy, healthy baby. Happily ever after!
This is how pregnancy and child birth in today’s world is portrayed. Weather it be in movies, television, tabloids, etc. For hundreds and even thousands of women, this is not the case. Many of us get lost after the cries of joy and happiness. Many of us are lost in the dark with a ending that results in the word no one wants to hear “loss.” Many of us never get our happily ever after.
Loss is such a horrible word. No one wants to hear it. Worse yet, no one wants to experience it.
Then there is the pregnancy after loss. How is that possible? How can you make it possible? How do you move on?
This is how I did.
My name is Laura. My daughter is Cara and my son is Carter. Carter is 6 months old, Carter became my happily ever after. Cara on the other hand will forever etched in my mind, as I will never be able to hold her tiny body again.
I lost Cara when I was 30 weeks pregnant. I came down with a disease of pregnancy called Preeclampsia. I became very ill. Preeclampsia took her from me and almost took my life. A week in the hospital and I left with no baby, no blissful pregnancy and my chance of happily ever after was ruined forever. So I thought.
After months of allowing myself to grieve, blog, and do things in my daughters name, I began to think that there could possibly be a chance for another child. I truly think doing things in my daughters name such as making baby names for other families that have experienced loss, becoming involved with the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and raising over 2,000$ my first year and walking in March of Dimes made me feel accomplished. I felt like I was accomplishing her life. Doing things for her, so no one would forget. That was a huge step in my healing.
When I found out I was pregnant, there were a lot of mixed feelings. I love this quote “It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.” This is why a baby after a loss is called a rainbow baby!
In the beginning I was so excited! I also had reservations. I knew that nothing could be controlled. Not even bringing home a healthy baby. So I took everything day by day. Hour by hour. When a loss is experienced, information about what can go wrong in a pregnancy fills one’s mind …it scares the hell out of you, you worry that everyone else’s story will quickly become yours. It was very emotional when I would get further week by week realizing, I JUST did this not even a year ago, and I did not get to even see my child laugh or smile. I felt like, what if I do this all over again and nothing? Then I thought what if I never get pregnant again? Could I live with the fact that if I did get pregnant I could have possibly brought home a healthy child? I had nothing to lose. I lost my daughter and almost my life.
For the most part people were amazing! Taking all my feelings into consideration! However It blew my mind there were people out there that had such strong opinions on how my second pregnancy would go. How I should act, how I should not be overcome with fear… SERIOUSLY PEOPLE! Just BECAUSE I lost my child before and I was VERY ill one time…DOES NOT mean I have some magical golden ticket that everything is going to be roses and ponies…I am not guaranteed a healthy pregnancy…no one is. My whole world fell apart. What I really needed was to be is REALISTIC. Some did not understand why I would spend 9 months worrying that I am going to lose another child and possibly my own life. I just can’t help but worry, ANYONE that loses a child cant help that, we lived it before, there is really no guarantee we won’t live it again.
Just because I was pregnant again, it did not cure my hurt for losing Cara. If anything it was more difficult knowing that loss is reality.
I really think there is no “right” or “wrong” thing to say to someone who is going through a pregnancy after a loss. Some say “mean” things because they are insecure and do not know what to say. Some say “mindless” things because they really are trying to make you feel better. For people that have never been in our shoes…it is simply incomprehensible. I guess what I asked of people during my pregnancy with Carter was: Please dont tell me not to worry. Please dont tell me I will be fine. Please if you have a opinion on how I should be feeling, just do not say anything at all.
As my pregnancy progresses I waited. Waited to buy bedding, waited to even let myself get excited. I was guarded. Who wouldn’t be? Most importantly I knew that bedding, and cute clothes were not the most important things. Just bringing him home was.
As my pregnancy got further and further I was scared of seeing Carter. I was scared that I would be filled with grief that Cara can’t be here. Im just scared for the overwhelming emotions of happiness for Carter and ultimate sadness for our Cara. I was asked if I was nervous to give birth. I guess people assumed that since my first baby died I never had to deliver her. Dummies. My answer to their questions were H*** NO. The baby has to come out regardless of the situation. So why worry? Worrying is not effective! I am nervous only for the feelings that will surround me when and after Carter is born. I am only nervous that of course my child will not live, that my happiness will be taken away once again.
When Carter arrived into this world. It was overwhelming. I pulled the sheets over my head and cried. I did not even hold him right away because I was so confused that I actually gave birth to a live baby. He was mine! ! I remember I thought about Cara and what I was robbed of, what she was robbed of. I knew she was there, looking down smiling. Its hard because if she was here, he would not be here and vice versa. Its a mixing bowl of emotions and it never ends. I cried because I guess I never realized how sick I was when I had Cara. How abnormal laying in a bed for a week after delivery, not showering, not having to use the bathroom, brush my teeth, hold my baby was. I never realized just how sad it was for me and those around me until being hit with all this joy! All I knew was sadness for almost 2 years. Now I am bombarded with happiness. I was not even sure what to do with myself!
Carter is now 6 months. Healthy and of course my happily ever after. There is life after loss. You can go on.
As for healing? I always thought my fears would be over once I bought home my rainbow…there not. There were many a nights I stayed away watching his monitor, watching him breathe. We will never be done grieving the loss of our daughter. We will always be aware that we were robbed of her life. In the same aspect we will never be done worry about Carter. Is he sick? Is he heartbroken over a girl? Is he ok on his own in the real world? Does he miss me? As for enjoying his pregnancy? I did enjoy it as much as I could, but I think anyone who loses a child never really “enjoys” any part of pregnancy, unless its the part where the baby is happily safe in your arms.
Remember nothing in life is easy. No one said having a child after a loss is easy, lord knows its not. Let me just say this. Its worth it. There is a happily ever after, somewhere out there, for everyone. Just a matter of how we get there.