Pregnancy After Loss: The Struggle to Rejoice

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At just 9 weeks pregnant, it didn’t quite feel real yet. Not physically, anyway. My tummy wasn’t showing… actually it kinda was because I’ve always had a lil pooch there, (which is likely why acquaintances have felt the need to question if I was pregnant before) but that’s beside the point.

We hadn’t arranged our home to house a baby. We hadn’t cleared the room meant for a nursery. We hadn’t bought one single baby item to prepare, so it didn’t feel real yet. The hubs confessed that it’s not quite real to him yet. I then confessed that while it’s so very real to me, I am struggling to bond and feel the hopeful excitement for this child in my womb, with the quiet fear that it may be taken away.

This is not even a little bit logical. The idea that if I somehow guard my heart from feeling all the feelings I’ll somehow spare myself the heartache if our story ends in loss again. It sounds silly even saying it aloud, that I fear that the longer I attach and get my hopes up, the harder it will hurt to lose. If you aren’t familiar with our story, you can read a bit here or listen to a podcast episode here. Long story short, in 2016 we lost a baby and at the time didn’t realize I was pregnant until I was miscarrying. I had known about that pregnancy for all of zero minutes and my heart grieved and ached as if I had deeply known and loved this child regardless. There was no correlation to the amount of time I knew this child, and the depth to which I felt the ache of losing them.

As I became honest with myself and felt willing to dig into these feelings, I wondered why this new pregnancy didn’t quite feel as real. Don’t get me wrong, these early symptoms are real. I have super-smell. Which, to my dismay, is not a pleasant thing as a Kindergarten teacher. I can smell ALL the smells. The heartburn is no joke. The nausea from my vitamins are quite a challenge to commit to. Every symptom, worth it. Every stretch mark, worth it. Every day, every ounce of suffering and discomfort will be so worth it. The symptoms make this pregnancy feel real. I catch myself thanking the Lord for these symptoms as they remind me of the miracle He is working inside me.

Where I struggled connecting to the real-ness is when my family was rejoicing with me and saying how excited they are for me to have a lil summer baby in July. My sisters talked about when we could get together for a baby shower, and my mind just wandered into thinking, “Don’t you guys think we should just wait a bit before planning anything just yet?” I knew my heart was in tension to believe. I just couldn’t let my mind or heart go there. I couldn’t let my mind wander or hope for what that might look like months from now. I don’t want to fear connection and bonding with this child I am carrying. I want to feel confident assurance that I will leave the hospital in a few months with a baby in the backseat. The tension in my heart to trust that this dream could be fulfilled in reality months later and that I’d actually hold a baby of my own can be hard to truly believe. 

Since having a miscarriage in 2016, I spent the last two years with an alternate route through target to avoid all baby aisles. Seeing tiny shoes made my heart ache for the child we lost and any hope for future children. I still catch myself taking my dodge-the-baby-section route. It’s still very unnatural to feel secure in this section of the store. There’s a constant tugging at my heart when I’m swarmed by what used to be triggers of anxiety. 

My womb has tasted death and I am no longer naive to the fact that babies don’t always live.

I’ve also heard a rumor that tomorrow is not even guaranteed. Tomorrow is not promised to us.

 

 

James 4:13-14 (ESV)
”Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

 

 

So how do I both trust the Lord with open arms, fully surrendered to His will when I know that ultimately we could lose another child?

Even if, I will praise You.

If it happens again, is He still good? Yes.

If it happens again, will I survive another loss? Likely, yes.

Were those words incredibly hard to type? Yes.

Lord, help my unbelief.

I am keenly aware that all of these gifts can be taken. I wake up (to pee, mind you) in the middle of the night or at the butt-crack of dawn and I touch my belly and praise God for the gift of life within me. I think to myself, “Okay, deep breath, I am still pregnant today. God will give me the daily bread I need for today. He will sustain me. I will get my strength from the Lord, alone.”

How do I hold my plans, desires, and hopes with open hands and not the white-knuckled grip that I’m prone to?

This desire for my womb to flourish, good desires, indeed, can happen how I would like them to or not. I’ve learned how terrible of a god I am. I do not know what is best. I do not have a better vantage point than our loving Father. I do not see the inner workings of God’s plan. He is good. He will be my strength. He will sustain me. He will be my daily bread.

“Loving Father,
This baby belongs to you. I am so far out of control of my life and the future and I take comfort in knowing that it is all in your hands. You will never leave me. You know what is best for us. You carry us. You sustain us. Will you help our disbelief? Will you meet us in the confusion? Will you be our strength? You know how many days we have with this baby. They have already been written in your book, Lord. (Psalm 139:13-16)”


 
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10 Bible Verses to Cling To in Pregnancy After Loss

James 1:17 (NIV)
”Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows.”

1 Samuel 1:27 (ESV)
”For this child I prayed, 
and the Lord has granted me
my petition that I made to him.”

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Luke 1:44-45 (NIV)
”As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord
would fulfill his promises to her!”

Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
”The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV)
”As you do not know the path of the wind,
    or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
    the Maker of all things.”

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Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)
”We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 84:11 (NIV)
”For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.”

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Psalm 127:3-4 (ESV)
”Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one's youth.”

Psalm 130:5 (ESV)
”I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope.”

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Lamentation 3:20-24 (NLT)
”I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!””


As this pregnancy gets recognition and this lil baby bump is growing, it makes me feel a sting of loss for the other baby I carried and loved. At times I have felt guilty for being unable to share these milestone pregnancy experiences with our first baby, Avery. I feel very hopeful that this baby currently in my womb will be sustained by God and that he or she will flourish and grow. I pray and hope that I will one day hold this sweet baby in my arms and watch them grow and play and giggle. 

One evening I was getting some Whataburger (cravin’ gravy) with my husband. I got a text from my sister in law, Meryl. Tears started flowing all over my face as I’m in the car. He had no idea why I had mascara all over my face as I set my chicken strip down. Meryl was rejoicing with me as I shared how my 8 week appointment went.

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She said “Yay! You’re a mommy (again)!” My heart filled up ALL the way to the top. Full capacity. I’ve never felt so seen and understood and loved in one single text. I felt like, right then, she saw my heart and knew what it needed to hear. I tried to explain to my husband how much that text meant to me. My sweet husband always gets so confused when I happy cry. Happy tears are healing, although I look hysterical. Feeling seen and understood made this already mama’s heart feel so incredibly loved.

I pray that if you are walking the road of pregnancy after loss that you feel validated and loved and that you find a community who can draw you closer to the Lord in this season.