Dear Brave Mama,
You have worked so hard to get to where you are, pregnant with a baby you hope to finally be able to bring home. I know how scary this is. It is terrifying. Others who are lucky to have not endured what you have see pregnancy as joyful and this baby as a guarantee. You do not see this baby as a guarantee. You know better than that. Your history has taught you that pregnancies don’t always go the way you expect them to and that babies don’t always come home.
Mama, I know how hard you have worked for this. I have been there. I am sure it has been years. Perhaps you have had recurrent losses. Perhaps you experienced difficulties becoming pregnant. Maybe you underwent fertility treatment and genetic testing. Perhaps you are still using medications every day to maintain this pregnancy. Maybe you used a sperm or egg donor, or perhaps you aren’t pregnant yourself but are using a gestational carrier.
Whatever the specifics of your story, you have worked hard for this. You have waited and hoped and literally put your blood, sweat, and tears into this baby. It feels like you have everything riding on this pregnancy.
I know that more than anything you want to be able to believe like those around you who have not experienced such loss. You want to have it not be a question whether this baby will be born alive, come home safely with you, and stay alive. But mama, it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be scared.
You have been on the wrong side of the statistics before. Your body, mind, and soul know the pain. Despite this, you have chosen to try again. Your desire to parent a living child is stronger than your fear. You have chosen to take the risk of devastation all over again because you hope it will all be worth it.
You feel like you need to be cautious and on edge to keep yourself safe, to prepare for another loss, and to brace yourself for the hurt. But what you and I both know is that nothing can brace you for the hurt of losing your child and your hopes and dreams along with them. I wish I could promise that this will not happen again, but the reality is that if the worst happens, you will survive it just like you have survived the unimaginable. And if that happens, I will be there for you, mama. We, your fellow loss moms, will be there for you. We will weep with you and grieve with you and support you until you can support yourself. We will worry about that if that happens. But right now, mama, you are pregnant. This baby is here. Right now, they are safe.
It’s okay to not feel brave. It doesn’t mean you aren’t. Every moment of taking a risk to do something that has horribly injured you in the past is brave and strong. Being strong doesn’t mean not being scared. It means continuing on even when you are.
Take things one appointment at a time, one week at a time, one day at a time, or one moment at a time when you need to. Don’t be afraid to soak in the joy of this pregnancy too. Don’t be afraid to connect with your baby. Let yourself feel that when it happens. And don’t be judgmental if you aren’t connected. Sometimes being connected, having hope, and feeling the joy is just too scary.
Take care of yourself, mama. Feel your feelings. Distract when you need to. Lean on the people that support you in the ways that you need. Set boundaries to protect yourself when you need to. Ask for what you need at the time you need it – to be celebrated, to be understood, and to be cared for.
You can do this mama. You have already been through worse. You can endure this journey, fight this battle, and keep on going. You are strong enough.
I hope for you that one day soon you will be holding your living, breathing, crying baby in your arms. I want that for you more than anything. I want you to feel the relief, joy, and amazement of seeing your living, breathing baby outside of your body and of holding them on your chest and in your arms.
Pregnancy after loss is a long journey. Pregnancy after recurrent loss and fertility treatment is an even longer journey. But one day it will all be worth it. One day, as you hold your sleeping baby in a dark nursery in the middle of the night, writing a love letter to other loss moms, every shot, every medication, every ovulation stick, every tear shed, and every fear and worry that comes with pregnancy after loss will be worth the joy that this little one will bring into your life.
I am sending you all of my love, mama. You are not alone. Woman after woman has walked this path before you, beside you, and behind you. We are held together by an indescribably strong bond. We are all here for you. We are all here with you. We believe in your strength. You can do this.