I lost my daughter Naomi at nearly 19 weeks through a “perfect storm” of medical issues that threatened my life. I had been hospitalized with unmanageable abdominal pain unrelated to my pregnancy, only to have my baby born sleeping, followed by emergency surgery the next day. I was sicker than I had ever been in my life, but one day after my surgery, all I wanted to know from my midwife was, “When can we try again?”
She looked at me with sympathy (while inside I can imagine she thought I was crazy) and gently told me I needed to wait a year. I refused to accept that. Sure I had nearly died, and had an huge incision held together with ugly staples, and would need another surgery within the next two months to finish putting me back together. I didn’t care. Death had touched my womb, and all I wanted was to feel life again.
As it turned out, we waited about six months before getting pregnant again, only to lose that baby in my first trimester…and then we conceived again, and lost again, nine months later. It would be a full two plus years after Naomi’s death before we would conceive our rainbow. Two excruciatingly long years for me. I could not wait to be pregnant again.
I know that not everyone has the same experience. Many women are scared to get pregnant again. Many men are afraid, too. They don’t want to see the woman they love go through loss again. Many times, I’ve heard the question, “How do you know when you are ready to try again?” If you are in that place, here are some things to consider about when you might be ready.
You might be ready when your body is ready. This is one thing I did not want to admit after I lost Naomi. I had just been through emergency abdominal surgery to save my life. I needed a lot of time to heal before I would be capable of carrying and nourishing another life. The same is often true for women who have had a later loss, or a particularly traumatic one. It may not be the case if your loss was earlier in pregnancy. Your doctor will give you some idea of how long to wait, although you may want to ask the reason for whatever timeline you are given, as some doctors advise waiting a certain time period so they will be able to accurately track the timing of a new pregnancy, not for any physical or emotional reason on your part.
You might be ready when your partner is ready. He doesn’t have to be in exactly the same place as you emotionally, but it helps greatly if you are in basic agreement on this. Remember, he lost a child, too, and has his own fears and concerns. You need to listen to one another.
You might be ready when you feel ready emotionally. One friend describes this as the desire for another child being stronger than the fear of losing another baby. Only you will know when, and if, that moment comes.
You might be ready even if you are scared. Not letting your fear stop you from trying to conceive does not mean that your fear is gone. I was scared – terrified – before and during my rainbow pregnancy. That is normal and okay.
You might be ready even if no one thinks you are ready. Others might wonder if you are really ready, or if you are trying to replace the child you lost with another, or if you haven’t really dealt with your own grief. It is good to listen to those who know you well, and if you have been going through grief counseling, your counselor may offer a good perspective, but in the end, it is no one else’s decision but yours.
You might be never be ready. And that is okay, too. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are living in fear, or that you are stuck in your grief. It doesn’t mean that you have not “arrived” or that you will never know joy again. It just means that, for whatever reason, the road you are on is leading you away from trying to conceive and in a different direction.
When my rainbow boy was two years old, we found out we were expecting again, only to lose that baby very early in pregnancy. The same thing happened again four months later. We are now more than two years out from our last loss, and still prayerfully open to God expanding our family. Am I scared? Oh, yes. Every time I take a pregnancy test, I tremble, not knowing if the results will catapult me on a road of joy or grief once more. And yet, I know I am “ready” for whatever the future holds for our family, because what we are reaching for is stronger than the shadows along the path. I have other friends, though, for whom that door has closed, who are finding their “life after loss” joy and purpose in other ways. That is okay, too. There is more than one way to have a rainbow. A new baby is not the only happy ending out there. What is powerful about a community like this one is the support we can have for one another, whichever way our paths lead.
What about you? How did you know that you were ready to try again? Or are you wondering this now? Share below!