Dear Loss Mom Considering Options Other Than Pregnancy,
I can empathize with how you’re feeling. You have suffered a huge loss or maybe even multiple losses, maybe even had your life at risk, and been told pregnancy is still a possibility, but one that terrifies you. You have questioned everything you know, probably thought you were less of a mom, maybe even less than a woman. It may be that right now, you have not breathed a word of these feelings to anyone, that they exist in the dark part of your mind where you hide them from the world. It may be that you have just started to talk about those feelings.
I assure you first that the feelings are completely normal and secondly that it is not true, that you are the best mom you can be, you are nothing less just because of choosing, or even considering, a different path to your next child.
I battled with all of these feelings, afraid to say a word for the longest time because how could I talk about just how badly I wanted a child at home while also saying that the idea of being pregnant terrified me. Anytime that I was even a second late, instead of the normal oh I hope this is it, I panicked, thinking about my safety, how many times I could tempt fate, risk my life, and even if it was normal, how could I deal with the anxiety of another pregnancy? When we tried another round of IVF and failed, my husband was devastated and I was relieved. I could not get pregnant, not just physically anymore, but also mentally. Everything scared me too much, it was almost a crippling fear of being pregnant. All the joy or anticipated joy was gone and in its place fear and anxiety that made me freeze. I thought about how terrible of a person I was, how terrible of a wife and a mother. I thought about women who were told that they could not get pregnant and how I was never told that, so how could I not get pregnant again, to use the God-given right and opportunity that was came solely as a virtue of being lucky enough to be born female?
But, as most things, I have realized that our inner dialogue is often more judgmental and hurtful than the dialogue given out in the world.
I started to realize that when I could tell other loss moms that their choice of pathways like adoption or egg donation meant they were incredible moms, that they were strong for realizing that even though they may have wanted to bring a child home in a more traditional way, they were preparing for another pathway. I also realized that is a problem we have as women and as moms, we are harder on ourselves than we are on others. I assure you that if you step back for a moment and think about what you are saying to yourself in your head, the self-judgment, the criticism, and think about saying that to a friend, you would probably say you would never do it. So why do we talk to ourselves like that? Why can’t we have the confidence and self-assurance to talk to ourselves the way we would talk to our best friend?
Being a mom is not something that comes easy to most people. While we are told by everyone throughout our lives how easy it is to get pregnant and have a baby, we all know the honest and difficult truth. Even tougher, we have all lived that experience of being pregnant or having a baby and then losing that child. The statistics prove that our experiences are not unique to us. One in eight couples trying to conceive will have infertility issues and one in four pregnant women will lose a pregnancy.
The rest of the world may not always feel the same way, but I am here to tell you that if you are reading this thinking about options after loss, you are already a mom and you are an incredible mom because parenting a non-living child is so incredibly difficult.
Being a mom and loving your child does not happen just because you carry your child. Right now, as we await the birth of our second child and hopefully the first child we will bring home, I can assure you that although I am not pregnant, I love our unborn child so much and I would risk my life for our child. The love we have to give our children does not just come from the experience of pregnancy, it comes from deep inside and grows no matter who carries the child.
So whichever pathway you choose, you are an incredible mom, you are brave, you have so much love to give, and your future child is very lucky to have you as a mom. Wishing you strength, patience, and love as you make the decision and follow the pathway.