As I write this on the heels of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I’m grateful that as a society, we are getting better at discussing the heartbreaking experience of baby loss. I’m grateful for the growing support available to those who have lost a baby. I’m grateful for those who are brave enough to share their stories.
But as we move into November, I’m thinking about pregnancy after loss.
Somewhere between 75-85% (or more) of women who experience loss go on to have a successful pregnancy—which is good news, of course—but we aren’t so good at talking about these subsequent pregnancies, and how complicated they can be.
Pregnancy after loss is an overlooked period of heartache and hardship. Yes, it’s a time of hope and anticipation, but it’s not without unsettling uncertainty, deep grief, and desperate longing.
To give you a snippet of context, I’ll share a very abbreviated portion of my story:
On November 9, 2015, after having had an ectopic pregnancy followed by a stillbirth, I locked myself in the bathroom and took a pregnancy test. I was terrified. A negative result would no doubt break my heart because I so deeply wanted to have a baby. But a positive could also break my heart as I knew the possibility of another loss would always be present—what if I carried another baby only to have them taken too soon? Again?
Well, the test was positive, which began the longest and most uncertain rollercoaster ride of my life. I was thrilled, yet terrified. Hopeful, yet anxious. I was up, down, up, down, over and over again each day. I was Courageously Expecting, carrying an already loved baby I wasn’t sure I’d get to keep.
Which is why on November 9, I want to bring attention to the experience of pregnancy after loss. I want to give those who are journeying to or through pregnancy after loss a voice. I want us to flood social media with what pregnancy after loss looks like, what it means to be Courageously Expecting. Subsequent pregnancies are wonderful, aren’t they? But they are so much more because grief and trauma accompany joy and hope.
I’d like to invite you to join me in this movement by meeting me on Instagram using the hashtag #ThisIsCourageouslyExpecting, and share your own photos and thoughts on what it means to you to be Courageously Expecting.
Pregnancy after loss is more complex than your average pregnancy. This isn’t just what many refer to as expecting, this is Courageously Expecting.
It’s choosing to try again knowing that pregnancy doesn’t guarantee you’ll bring home a baby.
It’s grieving the baby you lost while cautiously hoping you’ll get to keep another one.
It’s choosing joy in the midst of fear.
It’s looking for beauty, goodness, and hope in the midst of a pregnancy marked by uncertainty.
It’s celebrating the little life you are carrying not because you are guaranteed a happy ending, but because this baby’s life matters and because God chose you to mother this baby, right now, no matter the outcome.
It’s feeling every emotion—the happy and the hard—throughout the course of each day.
It’s praying over and over again, please, God, let me bring this one home.
Courageously Expecting is moving forward in faith, minute by minute, trusting God to make something beautiful out of the mess.
Yes, this is Courageously Expecting.
Because it takes courage to become pregnant again—to hope for another baby—when you’ve already said goodbye to one.
On November 9, please join the #ThisIsCourageouslyExpecting movement on Instagram to open/add to the conversation about the overlooked realities of pregnancy after loss. Bring awareness to the complexities of this topic by sharing your story and using the hashtag #ThisIsCourageouslyExpecting.
Need encouragement for pregnancy after loss? Find it here: Courageously Expecting: 30 Days of Encouragement for Pregnancy After Loss.