“You’ll get pregnant again.”
“Don’t worry, you have 2 other babies so your body knows how to get pregnant. You’ll have another baby.”
“I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again – this just wasn’t the right timing and it will be just perfect next time around.”
Certainly not the most helpful of things to say to someone right after miscarriage.
And yet, I did long to get pregnant again. And while I spent the next couple of months learning a new normal, trying to figure out how to grieve the loss of a baby I never met, and healing my body, without much thought, I found myself staring at another positive pregnancy test.
Only this time, the tears were out of fear instead of happiness. My heart racing was out of anxiety instead of joy.
It was really hard to type that. How could I possibly admit that I was not excited about being pregnant?
Because the emotions were still so raw.
Because the nightmares were still happening.
Because the feelings of being alone and scared staring at a blank ultrasound screen when there was supposed to be a little bean with a heartbeat there were still so vivid.
Because being discharged from the emergency room and told your “never really a baby” blighted ovum was already gone, and you will probably just have some bleeding like a period for a few days was so far from true. When labor pains started so intense it reminded me of my first delivery, and my husband stood by my side wondering how this could be normal, I have never been so frightened. When the contractions were ramping up and down like every other labor I had, I never felt so alone.
There I stood. Never being told that I would probably pass “tissue” in the primal form of a real baby, I was not prepared for what I saw, and I still get chills thinking about it today.
So how could I possibly move on to prepare for another baby when the grief from the miscarriage was still there, and the fear of going through it all over again was in the front of my mind?
One day at a time.
Some days were pure joy. Seeing an ultrasound heartbeat at 6 weeks and then hearing it again at 10 weeks. Pulling out the maternity clothes, feeling the baby kick, and finding out we were having (another!) girl.
Other days I could hardly get out of bed. Friends that had been pregnant at the same time I miscarried having their babies. The day that would have been my baby’s due date. The days following that due date wondering how things would have been different.
The pregnancy was more of a roller coaster than I want to admit. I never truly experienced relief from grief. Or ever really admitted grief for that matter. And yet…I think I connected to this baby in a way that I never knew could exist.
She would move the instant I would start fearing miscarriage to reassure me. In fact she started kicking the earliest of my girls, and the relief of feeling life and movement at 14 weeks was more than I could hope for. She would be still when I just needed sleep. The name God chose for us to call her means “pure trusting faith” and every time I would worry, I could sing her name to her.
Her delivery was probably the most enjoyable and relaxed experience I have ever had. Beautiful home laboring and practically fell out at the hospital with a half push. She latched right on, gazed directly into my eyes and put her hand on my heart. She is the most beautiful miracle rainbow baby. Her smile is as big as the ocean and she has stolen our hearts.
And while she has absolutely “completed” our family…I still have days where I am definitely not complete.
She did not “replace” the baby I miscarried. She isn’t the one that “made up for” losing a baby. There are days that I stare at the “forget me not” gift my mom gave me after losing my baby and cry. There are days where I scold myself for being selfish for wanting both my miscarried baby and my sweet rainbow baby.
What I have learned in the 9 months of being pregnant, and the subsequent first year of having a baby after miscarriage is…you never forget that baby. And since you never forget that baby, it is so important to grieve her. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move on” mentality is more crippling than anything in this world.
So crippling that as I sleeplessly rocked my 1 month old to sleep on September 25 of last year, I was not thinking about if I should change her diaper. I was re-living the nightmare of that night in the ER. I could still hear the voice of that ER doctor taking my vision of a baby away and making it into a lifeless tissue that was never a being.
So crippling that as I chased around my newly toddling and cruising 8 month old outside by the sprouting tulips I was not thinking about catching her next fall. I was heartbroken as I remembered planting those tulip bulbs with my oldest in anticipation of them blooming right about when that baby was supposed to have been born.
Don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed every milestone, snuggle, and smile. In fact, I probably savored them more than I did with my other two girls sadly. It is impossible to take those things for granted after going through that kind of loss. If I could go back I would allow myself to not just “pull it together” and get on with life.
My sweet rainbow baby turned 1 on August 28th. In the year since her birth I have learned the importance of allowing myself days to grieve and process what would have been her big sister. Letting myself make our angel baby a part of our family has helped make my family feel more complete.
My scars are still healing. Because when you keep pulling off the scab instead of just letting it take the time to heal underneath, it always takes longer.
Beautiful, Renee!!! Very well said. And I’m proud of you for sharing your story and being honest. Every time I see a picture of me from my brother-in-law’s wedding last summer…when I was pregnant…I feel a bit of sadness. Every time I look at pictures from last fall I remember exactly how I was feeling and how sad and lonely I felt. My little one does not make up for my loss. But she is definitely my miracle. Her name means God is gracious. He sure is. And every time I look at her I try to remember that and give myself grace too.
Thank you Mary <3
Emily | Recipes to Nourish
Thank you so much for sharing your story Renee. xo
Thank you Emily!
Thank you for sharing your heart. <3
Thank you for this, Renee. I lost my daughter at 16 weeks almost 3 months ago. It’s so painful for me to see friends who are still pregnant (and friends who were a month behind me but have now passed me and are really starting to show). I’m trying to take my time, let myself heal, really process it all, and take good care of my body, but there are days when it’s just really tough. On those days, it helps me to know that I’m not alone. So thanks again.
Everything you wrote is a mirror image of what I went through. My first angel would be 20 this December 25. My second would be 19 this December 19. December is a very hard month for me. I feel foolish sometimes when everyone is so excited about the holidays and I am having a tearful day. I went on to have a successful pregnancy. I remember the exact feelings that you described. I remember the not so “helpful” comments of well-meaning friends. There is one friend that really helped me sum up my feelings and express my hurt. She had a term still birth the year before my first miscarriage. She said that most people don’t consider a woman really pregnant until she is showing. A woman that wants a baby considers her baby a baby as soon as she sees the line on the pregnancy test. A light bulb went off and I realized that my babies were babies in reality and in my heart. It is perfectly ok to grieve my babies. They were (and still are) very real to me. I miss them. I miss all of the “what could have been” things of life.
I just wanted to thank you. I feel very good typing this. Your post has helped me see that other women feel like I did (and still do). It is perfectly ok to miss your baby. I still miss my mine.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I had a somewhat similar experience. I lost our 4th child at 9 weeks and was pregnant 2 months later with our rainbow baby. She is such a blessing and we are so thankful for her but still saddened by the loss of our other little one.