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The fear of losing a baby

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I’ve read that one in four women have experienced a miscarriage. I’ve also read that 75% of women have had what’s called a “chemical pregnancy” – one that’s over almost before it starts. (Most women simply assume they had a late period.)

Recently this really hit home.

my teeny tiny nine week bump. let’s be honest… it’s definitely more bloating than baby.

Within the last couple of months I’ve had two good friends experience a miscarriage and a stillbirth. One was seven weeks along, the other was twenty-one weeks along… far enough to feel the baby kicking and have the gender identified.

Both of these losses hit me hard.

I’ve not experienced a miscarriage for myself, and I pray to God I never will, but since having a child of my own I feel like I can begin to imagine (in a greater, more accurate way) the trauma and loss that losing a baby leaves you with.

With my first pregnancy (Levi) I remember being so fearful every time I went to the bathroom for the first few days… always hoping and praying that there would be no blood, no sign of life cut short. For me, the one thing that helped me to overcome that fear was my faith and belief in God.

One day—convinced that being fearful wasn’t doing my unborn baby or me any good—I prayed to God and told him that I would entrust my little baby’s life to his care. Even though my husband and I prayed a similar prayer when we first got those two positive stripes, I needed to go back to God alone and dig further within my own heart to find an even deeper sincerity. I asked for help so that I could cease being fearful, and I “handed over” my pregnancy and that precious little vulnerable life to God.

That day a burden lifted and I didn’t struggle with fear surrounding the pregnancy again.

My second pregnancy has been harder. Though not typically a fearful person, I’ve again struggled with a fear of losing this new baby. I think there are a few reasons for it – the first being that I’ve just stood by two dear friends as they’ve endured the heartache of losing unborn babies, both situations being incredibly painful.

I think another reason is that the loss of my second friend’s baby was so unexpected. She had well and truly entered what most would consider the “safe zone”. She was feeling him kick every day. She had her growing, beautiful second trimester belly. And—after her 21-week-old baby was delivered stillborn—she and her husband were able to hold that tiny, perfectly formed body while they named him and then let him go.

And finally—perhaps the most confronting reason—is now that I have a child of my own, I have such an increased awareness of what I have to lose. The cost of loss seems so much more real, and so far beyond anything I ever want endure paying.

The stakes are incredibly high.

I have no doubt that losing a baby would be traumatic and heartbreaking and absolutely awful for any mother, and I would never want to belittle anyone’s experience. But for a mother who’s already had the experience of knowing how much life changes, how much your heart expands, how much love is at stake… well that’s an awareness that must bring things to a whole new level.

I realize that every woman deals with this kind of loss differently, and by no means am I an expert or would I put myself forward with any depth of personal revelation other than that which any mother shares – the weight of knowing how much love for a child one’s heart can hold and the reality of life moving to another dimension after children have invaded your world.

In saying all that, this pregnancy has been much harder for me mentally and emotionally so far.

Instead of holding my breath for the first several days like with my first pregnancy, I was holding my breath for the first several weeks… praying, hoping, hanging on, treading lightly with more fear than the first and more dread each time I visited the ladies room. There was a very real battle raging in my head between what I knew to be true and yet the possibility of what “could be”.

I still have my faith in God. I still trust Him with this little life. And that has helped me immensely… In fact, it’s been my lifeline. But this time around it’s been a bigger effort for me to trust, relax, and believe that it’s all going to be okay.

Thankfully, I’m now at the place where I’m resting with my heart and mind at peace, knowing that my little one is in good hands. S/he’s healthy, growing, developing just as s/he should.

And with the awareness that life will always be bigger than us and that there will always be circumstances beyond our control, I’m trying to be even more deliberate to be thankful for every single day that this precious baby is ours.

Dear friends, this is such a sensitive topic, and I hesitated for weeks writing about it since I’ve not experienced losing a baby for myself. But since it is something every pregnant woman is faced with to one degree or another, I decided to write about some of my process. Did you struggle with fear during pregnancy? And if you feel up to “going there” may I ask about how the reality of losing a baby has effected you, your pregnancies, or your outlook on life?

grateful to be overcoming fear one day at a time,

Adriel

20 Comments

  • Reply A Little R&R 5 March 2011 at 11:22 am

    Wow – I feel so deeply for your friends. I am still holding my breath. I go in on Monday for a 2nd ultrasound and I am hoping and praying to see a little heartbeat. I'll rest easier then – much easier. Having two babies in heaven with Jesus makes these first several weeks a little more difficult – but somehow I have a huge underlying peace that tends to calm my fears. Thank God for that.

  • Reply Amy Sullivan 5 March 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Tough. I won't write the number of miscarriages I've had. It's too many, but I will say each changed me. Life is a true, true miracle (so cliche, I know). Precious, fragile, and something our human heads struggle to comprehend.

  • Reply melissa d. 5 March 2011 at 2:16 pm

    this was such a honest beautiful post! i know EXACTLY what you mean with the second or third time being 'harder' exactly for the reason you said-you know what the loss would be, the stakes ARE higher.
    i think you are doing a great job with all that you can, He will protect your heart and your family.
    i have suffered from a miscarriage, and it does change you-but it something you can go forward from and i was still able to have two more beautiful babies soon after.

  • Reply The Planet Pink 5 March 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I understand your feelings exactly. I too never experienced a miscarriage, but each time I saw the plus sign on a pregnancy test, I was gripped with the fear that this time would be "it". Especially by my fourth, the entire pregnancy was wrought with the fear that I was tempting fate somehow. I know things don't work that way, but it was a fear nonetheless. I feel grateful for the beautiful babes I've been blessed with and my heart hurts for those that experience loss in it's rawest form.

  • Reply Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) 6 March 2011 at 5:15 am

    I've never experienced one either but have had friends that did. I can only imagine the pain of the loss. The second pregnancy is certainly put into perspective like you said b/c you know what is at stake.

    I'm so sorry for your friends' losses and I'll be wishing you a healthy and happy pregnancy 🙂

  • Reply Nessa 6 March 2011 at 7:47 pm

    My miscarriages were very early. We were trying to have a baby for so long it felt more like another failure. They were within a week of finding out – and we had been having so much trouble that I didn't think about them being real yet. I was too scared. My heart breaks to think about losing one so late as your friend.

  • Reply L 6 March 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Adriel, My heart dropped when I started reading.

    I lost my first one and it was the worst experience of my life so far. I did not really enjoy my pregnancy with Laney as I had a lot of fear and anxiety. I just would live for the next milestone (heartbeat, ultrasounds, feeling movement, etc.). I just wanted her to be born so that she would be OK. I soon realized that after birth there are even more things that can go wrong. They are never safe. I had to give over my fears to God and when I say that I mean it is still a process for me. Fear and worry are crippling. I don't know how I'll do when I get pregnant next, but I'm hoping that I will be able to completely trust God with that precious life.

  • Reply cooperl788 7 March 2011 at 12:50 am

    It's heartbreaking to lose a baby, even in the early weeks. I have been so lucky to have had a healthy and full-term pregnancy with Georgia, but I've had so many friends who lost one, and sometimes more. With Georgia's pregnancy, the only thing that really worked for me was taking it day by day. I would have to think, "Today I'm pregnant, and today I love my baby." It helped to quell the fears of What If.

  • Reply Getrealmommy 7 March 2011 at 1:36 am

    I am on my third pregnancy and was just as worried with each one. I had a somewhat difficult time getting pregnant with the first two, and I think that also made it really scary. To work that hard at getting pregnant, only to lose the baby would be heartbreaking.

    Some women seem to assume the best and not worry as much. I envy them. I think the hardest thing for me is that it is totally out of my control.

    I am twenty five weeks along and still worried that he will stop kicking one day. I saw an episode of ER years ago where that happened and the woman had to go through labor to give birth to a stillborn, I can't think of anything much worse.

    For me pregnancy is difficult for these reasons, and I have to admit because of it, I don't enjoy the experience as much as I should.

    I can really relate to this post!

  • Reply Branson @ Reflection of Something 7 March 2011 at 6:25 am

    I, too, struggled with fear during my pregnancy because of a dear friend's recent loss. She actually lost her baby after having what seemed like a perfectly healthy two months after she was born, though, so my fear extended through the first 6 months or so of Aiden's life. Your insight that you are more afraid because now that you are a mother you know how much you have to lose is right on I think. It is a scary subject to write about, but I am glad you posted it.

  • Reply Liz 7 March 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I found that I worried a whole lot more with Baby #2. I think once you know more of what *could* go wrong and what it is like having a healthy baby, your fears increase.

  • Reply Cari 7 March 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I had two miscarriages, one of which was twins in the first trimester. It is very tough, even though you've done everything right, you feel like a failure and that is really hard to overcome. It is also hard one your relationship with your partner. It's hard to not shut everyone out. I found that I needed time to grieve and then I put in all in God's hands. Realizing I had no power or choice in what the outcome would be takes away some of that guilt. I am happy to report that I have two beautiful children, and was terrified the entire pregnancy. I guess it just goes to show how great a mother's love is…for someone she has never met or will meet. I feel very lucky to be a woman and to have experienced all the good and bad, and all the incredible blessings that have come with it.

  • Reply flyrish 7 March 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I admire your honesty with this post. I had been experiencing the same type of worry and anxiety (also had close friends experience miscarriage recently), especially before my first OB appt. But now with 2 OB visits and 1 ultrasound under our belts, I'm feeling better. I'm glad that you're on the path to feeling more at ease, too. Hugs to you!

  • Reply Miri 7 March 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I know, I have this fear so much as well.

    With my first couple of pregnancies I was petrified the entire time that I'd lose the baby, but by now I've gotten more at ease and have decided that my babies are here to stay, and just hope I won't be wrong.

  • Reply Kerry McCullough 8 March 2011 at 2:04 am

    You know, I'm embarrassed to say that before I was ever pregnant, I didn't think a miscarriage was that big of a deal. I just didn't understand what it was like to have that bond of carrying a child. I kind of thought: "well, they never really knew that baby, so it couldn't be that traumatizing." And that couldn't be farther than the way I feel now. After being pregnant with Niall- before he was even born- the thought of losing that little being would make me break down into sobs. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to lose a baby. To carry a human inside of you and then lose it. My heart breaks for anyone who has experienced this. I know that my life would be forever changed.

  • Reply Jessica 11 March 2011 at 3:28 pm

    This is a very tough topic! I have a friend who has struggled with miscarriages for the past 10 years! Each pregnancy, she hopes for the best, she hears the heartbeats, and then, something happens… I think that all we can do is pray and hope for the best. All of this is really out of our hands. With this pregnancy, I've tried being mindful of this fact more than with Nya's pregnancy. It's hard.

  • Reply Kimberly 15 March 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I hear you loud and clear. I have had 2 miscarriages, and God CONTINUES to show me that I need to trust His Story for my life, our family's lives. I still think about the age of the children, but God is in the busyness of Restoring.
    Girl, the enemy would attack in this time, because you stand in Faith. I've come to realize that Fear can very quickly go to 'the imagined', but it isn't even truth. Truth is God is blessing you no matter what! He wants to give good gifts to his children, He delights in showing mercy, and wow, you keep being that warrior, who comes out, tells us all you're pregnant at such an early time, and stand in the confidence God showed you the first time. This is your time to act in what He Told You… It's either Fear or Faith, right!? You can only choose one…
    Proverbs 14:26
    In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.
    By the way, I'm due October 9th…Let's do this together!
    Love You already…

  • Reply holy flippin moly. it sure was a wild ride. « The Mommyhood Memos 30 December 2011 at 1:11 pm

    […] pregnant with my second I wrote about losing a baby, and then veered onto the topic of Down Syndrome and loving children for who they are, regardless […]

  • Reply Sarah 29 March 2013 at 12:25 am

    I lost my 2nd baby at 10 weeks. It was a missed miscarriage. My baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks 3 days. It was heart wrenching. We had just heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks. We had told only family & very close friends. I felt like I failed my husband, our daughter (she was 22 months) & my sweet unborn baby. I saw my perfectly formed tiny baby after my body had “given birth”. You know how books show what an 8 week old fetus looks like? Yep, that’s exactly how my baby looked. That was on August 15, 2010. Four months later I was pregnant again. The longest 4 months of my life. The next 4 months were equally as long since I didn’t want to share with anyone. Every trip to the bathroom was terrifying. Every dr appt I held my breath. On March 10 we found out we were having a boy! It was a bittersweet day because that was my lost baby’s due date. My precious baby boy was born August 17, 2011– just a year after my devastating loss.
    It’s important to say that during that year my faith & trust in God grew tremendously! I learned just how powerful prayer was. I knew that everything was in God’s hands, that I couldn’t control everything & that worrying got me nowhere. I found several verses to pray over & really placed them on my heart. Like you, we also received news of 1 soft marker for Downs Syndrome. (This is I came to know about you– God works in mysterious & magnificent ways!)
    I know that God never gives us more than we can handle. In fact, everything I experienced really made me more grateful for His blessings. I was able to open up & share the story of my own miscarriage with several women. I had an incredible support system (including my midwife), and after learning of my miscarriage SO many friends opened up about their own, thus creating deeper, more meaningful connections.
    I wear a necklace that has my children’s names on it as well as a cross. I had purchased the cross the day I found out about my 2nd pregnancy. Now, that cross symbolizes my baby in Heaven. I know he or she is with me always, and oh man! I can not wait to love on that child when we meet again.

  • Reply Amber 29 March 2013 at 5:46 am

    Thank you for writing this. I lived all 41 weeks of my pregnancy with the intense and almost irrational fear of losing the baby. I can’t imagine the pain of those who have gone through it. I felt so guilty anytime I mentioned my fears, so thank you for being so brave and saying this for those of us that couldn’t.
    Amber recently posted..Thoughts on Bringing Up Bébé: Pregnancy & BeyondMy Profile

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