Letters to a Grieving Mom: Open if you’re pregnant after miscarriage
This is part of a series called Letters to a Grieving Mom to help women navigate significant milestone days after miscarriage and pregnancy loss.
Dear Grieving Mom,
Congratulations! Phew. Another baby! How are you feeling, mama?
I have so many questions for you! Like: did this baby make it’s way into your womb quickly after your loss? Or did you need to wait a while and let your grief simmer? Did you get pregnant straight away? Or did it take long months of trying? Or years? Do you feel prepared to love again? What is your support network like?
Regardless of my one thousand questions (and the one million possible answers you might give), I one hundred percent believe that the very best thing I could say to you right now is congratulations. And I really do mean that. This is worth celebrating because new life is new life. I mean—wow! It really is a beautiful thing.
BUT. (There is also a really big, bolded, italicized ‘but.’) I also want to say that I know the plethora of emotions that can be unleashed with a pregnancy after loss. I mean, have you cried about this yet? Happy tears? Scared tears? You may have even cried sad tears, knowing this somehow signals the end of the chapter from miscarriage to new conception. The whole thing is fairly complicated.
A couple of years ago, before writing my book, Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss, I put a link to a survey on facebook for those who had experienced miscarriage and other types of loss. Honestly, I put it up and crossed my fingers that I’d get enough responses to make it meaningful. And wouldn’t you know I actually had to take down the survey after a day because I couldn’t keep up with the responses that came flooding in. At 750 and counting, it became clear that women like you and I have a lot to say about this hushed subject. (Side note: Our husbands have a lot to say about miscarriage too, but culture is still catching up.)
One of the things that was soenlightening to me about reading through these survey responses was to see the many ways women responded to pregnancy after loss. Sure, there were common themes: fear, anxiety, relief. But truly the responses were all over the shop.
And you know what this tells me? Your response—whatever it is that your own precious, unique, individual self is feeling—is normal. Really.
Do you feel guilty for being hesitant to let your heart freefall into love again? Normal.
Do you feel a new wave of questions related to God’s care for you and the life of your baby? Normal.
Do you feel relieved to be over the initial will I get pregnant again question? Normal.
Do you feel filled with hope that this new pregnancy will be different? Normal.
Do you feel resentful toward friends or others who seemingly imply this new pregnancy somehow replaces the baby you’ve lost? Normal.
Do you feel scared that you won’t be able to care for your other children or your family because you feel paralyzed by fear that it will happen again? Normal.
Do you feel hesitant to share your news with others because you don’t want them to be afraid for your baby’s life, like somehow your last miscarriage was your fault? Normal.
Do you feel rushed and anxious to get in to see a doctor and be heavily monitored through pregnancy? Normal.
Do you wish you could fast forward and be assured that what you’re about to go through will result in a healthy, full term baby at the end of it? Normal.
Do you feel terrified that you won’t be able to take another heartbreak if you lose another baby? Normal.
Do I need to keep asking questions here, mama? I think you get the picture.
Really and truly—whatever it is you feel right now is likely normal. (Side note: If you seriously feel like your responses aren’t normal and wonder if you need mental health support, then please do pursue advice from your doctor. It will only serve to set your mind at ease or connect you with the vital support you need. See? Win-win.)
Mostly this is all I want to tell you today: Congratulations on your pregnancy! And the emotions you’re feeling surrounding this new pregnancy are normal. You are normal.
No matter how you feel, there is grace enough for you and for your own particular journey of motherhood. You can do this. You can feel what you need to feel, grieve how you need to grieve, and still celebrate the life of your newest little one. Your sadness over what’s happened can sit side-by-side with the joy of new life. I know it feels like those things must compete but they don’t have to. You are a whole person with a whole complex range of emotions and responses, and to box yourself into one little stream of response is not fair.
Give yourself the kind of grace you’d imagine the most perfect of friends giving you. Treat yourself with kindness. Make room for the sadness and welcome the hope that also comes with new life. If you are a Christian, surrender your baby to the Lord, knowing that he loves him or her more than you can possibly know. Ask God to hold your heart as you take those tiny, vulnerable steps into unexplored territory. This is life after loss and it doesn’t have to be terrible, though it will be different.
You are stronger than you think, but please know that “being strong” doesn’t always mean holding it together or keeping things under control. May this be a time where you allow yourself to be surprised by your inner strength—the kind of strength that leads you to be humble, to be vulnerable, to ask for help and support as needed, to be your own best advocate. The kind of inner strength that faces your anxiety and fears with courage—living life forward, even if it means starting while still afraid. Being brave isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the tenacity to put one foot in front of the other when you feel like it’s too hard.
In Grace Like Scarlett I spend a lot of time exploring the deep dive as you navigate the waves of grief. If you try to outrun or overcome them, you are likely to be pummeled. You must learn to dive in to your grief in order that you may keep growing forward. Surfers call this a duck dive—when they have to dive with their board under the waves in order to not be battered. They learn to do this in such a way that the wave not only washes over them, but also that they miraculously end up having moved forward despite the wave trying to pull them in the opposite direction.
Now that you’re pregnant again, you have the opportunity to practice this deep dive all over again. When the waves feel like they’re coming full force, how will you respond? My hope is that you’ll dive deep—connect with your grief and connect with your own soul. May you connect with God and find him there under the surface. May you allow yourself to be surprised by how resilient you really are.
There is so much grace for you for this new pregnancy, my friend. My prayer is that you’ll be quick to extend grace, quick to be kind to yourself, and quick to dive into God when you feel afraid, anxious, or confused by the way your grief reappears.
You can do this. You’re stronger than you think. More importantly, God is with you and he is stronger than you think.
More posts in the Letters to a Grieving Mom series:
- Open when your period returns
- Open on your original due date
- Open when you’re invited to a baby shower
- Open on a difficult holiday or special occasion
- Open on Mother’s Day
- Open on your baby’s birthday or anniversary
- Open during a post-miscarriage pregnancy
For further resources to navigate grief after miscarriage and pregnancy loss, or to learn how to best support a friend experiencing loss, please visit my Miscarriage Stories and Resources page. You will also find a free grief journal and a free 7-day devotional.
If you’d like to go deeper in exploring how to grieve with hope, I’ve written a whole book for you: Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss (available at all major retailers).
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