The idea of being pregnant again is exciting and, mostly, overwhelming.
Sometimes it seems so daunting, so scary. Yet, wanting a baby is such a strong pull.
Whenever something is so big and so important and so scary, I try to focus on the here and now. Break it up in small things I can actually handle. This moment, me here, now.
It is a very special place to be, when you are almost, almost ready to try to conceive again. That moment, that special pocket of time, offers a special opportunity to prepare body and heart to welcome a new little baby.
Preconception is a wonderful place to start caring for a new baby with love and presence of mind.
These are some of the things that help me:
1. Prepare my body.
I like to get back in the habit of eating healthy. I eat real food, things that feed me, that are actually helpful for my body, that don’t just feed the hunger but give sustenance that my body can use to stay healthy, to heal, to grow. I love to eat nourishing food, aware that I am preparing a healthy body with which to grow a baby.
2. Look, breathe, stretch, connect.
I like to get outside, to let fresh air fill my lungs, travel through my body, refresh my mind. I wish I liked yoga or swimming, hiking, bike riding… they sound like lovely activities that move your body and get endorphins flowing happily. I do like going outside and looking at the tress, stretching, doing squats (minding my pelvic floor muscles, of course), doing arm exercises – it makes me feel healthy and strong, like I’m preparing a beautiful body that any baby would love to grow in.
3. Accept the fear.
Because there is just so much fear. So much unavoidable fear. And some days are going to be tough. There is no amount of affirmations or mindfulness that can break down the fear. So, instead, I try to sit with my fear. Hearing my partner say, “of course you’re scared, your baby died” helps put it in perspective. I accept that some days, the idea of plunging in again scares me senseless. Some days, I’m just scared. And that’s ok; my baby died.
4. Acknowledge the sadness, the extreme sadness, that may come.
I think what shakes me even more than fear is the sadness. Somehow, I’m not too sure why, but thinking of a new baby makes me sadder for my girl. Maybe I feel a little bit guilty. Or maybe it just highlights her absence, her profound and eternal absence. It breaks me, being so sad. As if it came from the depths of the deepest loneliness, this sadness, at times, colors everything. There are times when all I can do is let it wash over me and cry. And that’s ok; my baby died and I am thinking of having another one.
5. Know that there will be ambivalence.
The real kicker is that these feelings, these powerful tides of emotions come all at once! In the same day or even in the same moment. And the rational part of me, the one that tries to plan and plan well, decides about 7 times a day when the new baby should come and maybe even if it shouldn’t or wait yeah it should. I wish it were more straightforward, but for me, at least, it’s not. For a grief mom trying to conceive, to have all this in her heart and still get up every morning and somewhat function – well, I think I do pretty dang well.
6. Expect joy.
Oh because, also, there is such joy! A new little baby, the sheer hope and bliss and love that the very idea of a little baby brings… it just shines through. And at times, the amazing joy is so strong, so real, it just lifts me away! I let myself be swept away. Because even if for just this one present moment, the joy is real and the joy shines through!
7. Be ready for weird-ish sex.
TTC sex, after a while, is weird in and of itself. Perfectly timed, goal oriented, perfunctory sex. After what may have been a sex-less grief phase, or an infrequent sex grief phase, trying to conceive brings sex back on the menu. Put grief sex and TTC sex together and you get a great combo! Not always, thankfully. At times sex is still spontaneous and exciting and loving and fun. But when it’s not … well, it happens to the best of us (or so I’ve heard).
8. Muster up the courage to step into the fertility clinic.
Sometimes conception includes doctors and sonograms, shot, pills, blood work. Those times it seems to take extra courage. It takes great determination, and great acceptance of what we’ve lost, what we’ll never have, what we hope for so dearly. We can’t wish that life decides for us, that “if it happens, it happens”, that if another baby is “meant to be” then it will “just happen”. Sometimes we need to make appointments and pay lots of money. Sometimes conception is the very intentional act of driving to a clinic when we are told, even if we’re scared, even if we’re sad. And hope that we can walk out hopeful and with a glimmer of joy. This is courageous work, and we are rockstars for doing it.
9. Know that we can be mom to both.
What if I don’t love the new baby as much as I love my child that died? What if I am somehow secretly hoping to replace my baby with the new one? What if I don’t love the new baby because it is not my baby that died? What if mothering a live baby makes me forget about my other child? What if I can’t be mom to both? We can. I don’t know how, but we absolutely can. Mothers since the beginning of time have wondered how there can possibly be room in their hearts for more than one child. We love the children that we have so much that it seems impossible to have any more love to give. Each child makes the heart grow. Each child increases the love we are capable of giving. Each child, wether dead or alive, has a special place in our hearts that is theirs and only theirs. And there is love for all.
10. Hug it out.
Loads, hug it out loads and loads. With your partner, with your sisters, your friends, your family. Just hug it out. It will reboot you. It will connect you to love and keep you sane. Hugging holds us together, keeps us from crumbling too much. Every day, make sure to hug someone. Because you, brave mama, are so loved.