According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of courage is: the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.
Prior to losing two babies, I wouldn’t have used the words pregnancy and courage in a sentence together.
When I was pregnant for the first time I was excited. I couldn’t wait to share the news. I started planning for my baby’s arrival immediately. Pregnancy felt special to me because, well, I was pregnant!
But at that time, pregnancy and courage weren’t related at all. Because pregnancy is a normal part of life, isn’t it? Women have been conceiving, carrying, and birthing babies for all of time. For as miraculous as pregnancy is, it’s also quite ordinary.
The steps to having a baby were quite simple.
But everything changed after not one, but two losses. An ectopic pregnancy and a stillbirth.
Suddenly, the thought of becoming pregnant was terrifying. Difficult and dangerous don’t really even begin to describe it.
All I could think of was death—the death of another baby and the crumbling of another piece of my heart.
And really, that’s what makes pregnancy after loss courageous. Death. We know that babies die and we know that even though we’ve already experienced pregnancy loss, it could happen again.
When you’ve lost a baby, whether at six weeks or 40 weeks, you know how fragile the tiny being growing inside of you is; how fragile the process of pregnancy is. I’m far from being an expert, but I would guess that approximately 10,000 things must go right throughout the processes of conception, pregnancy, and labor and delivery in order for a living baby to be placed in your arms.
So many things must go right, and as a loss mom, you know just how many things can go wrong.
You know that the third trimester of pregnancy is no safer than the first trimester. Babies truly can arrive at any time, whether alive or dead. Talk to moms who have lost a baby and you’ll hear stories of loss that have occurred in all three trimesters (and beyond). 8 weeks. 15 weeks. 27 weeks. 35 weeks. 42 weeks.
You know that even if your body appears to be healthy—your uterus and cervix seemingly prepared to shield a baby from the outside world for 40 weeks—it can fail at any time.
Besides all that, you are surrounded by triggers to contend with. There’s your previous due date. And the date you lost your baby. There are parents with newborns everywhere you look, a reminder that their pregnancy was successful and yours wasn’t. People will ask you if this is your first pregnancy and how many children you have, and you’ll awkwardly begin to sob. And honestly, even the positive pregnancy test can be triggering. Remember the last time you saw those two pink lines? Remember how you naively thought you would get to keep that baby?
For these reasons and so many more, becoming pregnant after loss takes an immense amount of courage.
You have to be willing to risk another loss in the name of love. You have to be willing to accept the potential for more heartbreak even as you hope for a different outcome. You have to walk the tightrope between loss and new life, hoping to reach the other side safely, but knowing you could fall off at any time.
Becoming pregnant after loss means saying “I’m terrified to become pregnant, but I’m going to try again anyway.” It’s courageously declaring that to carry and to love another baby is worth it, even though you know you might have to say goodbye.
It’s courageously choosing hope over fear when pregnancy no longer guarantees a baby.
Pregnancy after loss is a risk that might not pay off.
But even with all that could go wrong, is it a risk worth taking? I’m courageously choosing to answer with a bold “yes.”
Need encouragement through the courageous journey of pregnancy after loss? Get Jenny Albers’ book, Courageously Expecting: 30 Days of Encouragement for Pregnancy After Loss.