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On Being Pregnant After a Loss

I was giddy when I first saw them. Giddy. And I don’t do giddy. But there they were in broad daylight, screaming out, “Your life is about to change!” And it was.

Two pink lines. Finally. After years of watching my sisters and close friends (and distant friends and students that I used to teach) get pregnant and have babies, it was finally my turn. I was finally pregnant at the age of 35.

I can still relate to 35-year-old me in some ways, but so much of what was has been lost. I was thinner, void of stretch marks, and I still had the energy to stay out late, playing music in coffee shops, and hanging out with friends. But more important, I was blissfully naive. I believed that pregnancy meant that in nine months, I would be holding a baby. I was wrong.

Thirty-nine-year-old me is wiser. I have given birth to one baby, now a fantastically spirited toddler, who will likely grow up and change the world, if I can get him to stop running into traffic every chance he gets. But, I have also lost two babies. My first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage at 11 weeks. My third pregnancy ended around five and a half weeks. At least I had warning with that one. The blood work showed the loss before my body did. But they were hard losses. So much grief over babies I never knew.

Now I am pregnant with baby number four. It is important to me to count this baby in its proper place, to acknowledge the lives that were. But the blind hope that 35-year-old me had is gone. There has been too much reality, too much loss in the time that has passed.

On the day I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I told my husband quietly, as if saying it out loud might cause something bad to happen. We didn’t cry and laugh like we did with our first. We were excited, of course, but with the unspoken knowledge of how this could end permanently written on our hearts. It’s hard to let that go. It’s hard to live in hope.

The weeks between two pink lines and the midwife’s confirmation of this pregnancy were miserable. I should have been ecstatic. I was finally pregnant again, but I had very few symptoms. I didn’t sleep well during my successful pregnancy with my son, and now I was sleeping fine. It sounds crazy, but a little bit of insomnia would have been a welcome reminder of how much work my body was doing to grow a baby. I didn’t feel sick, except for a little bit of heartburn at night. I felt perfectly un-pregnant. I was terrified that this was a sign that all was lost. But my seven-week appointment came, and the ultrasound showed a beautiful tiny blob with a perfectly beating heart. I had to steady myself through my crying and shaking so the midwife could get a clear picture of our little one. I was one step closer to a baby in my arms.

Pregnancy

Since then, I have had another ultrasound, again showing a perfectly beating heart. The last appointment gave me the sound of my little baby’s heartbeat through a doppler. The thump-thump-thump sounded a lot like hope. My baby is growing.

My mind knows the possibilities. I know there is no “safe” time. So I pray, and read scripture verses and inspirational quotes. I remind myself that the statistics are on my side. Most pregnancies result in babies. My chances of delivering a perfectly healthy baby are growing by the day. But sometimes I tell people that I am pregnant, and it feels like I am making it up. Like I am a fraud. I worry that they are looking at me and wondering, “Yeah, but is this one gonna stick?”

I try to imagine myself holding this baby. Bringing him or her home to our little apartment and shushing his older brother when he gets too loud. I try to be grateful for this baby, whispering a prayer every time I am able to find that tiny heartbeat on my doppler at home. This is a moment-by-moment process, being hopeful. It is a fight to not let my mind go down the dark road of a doctor visit that ends in devastation. Some days I win that fight. Some days I lose.

For today, there is a baby on the way. I expect that during the middle of this coming summer, I will make a drive to the hospital with a bag packed with tiny pajamas and freshly laundered baby blankets. I plan to return home with a brand new baby. I will be exhausted and happy. For today, I am hopeful.

Please visit the “Forever Loved, Never Forgotten” page on the Fort Worth Moms Blog to celebrate the life of your little one lost too soon or to support others moms who’ve walked this road.

Also, The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 19 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Fertility Discussion with Tarrant County Moms. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.

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18 Responses to On Being Pregnant After a Loss

  1. Jodi Brown February 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    I have nothing but love and hope in my heart for this tiny new little being you are growing in your belly…..its equal parts magical and fearsome….parenthood is just like that. Pretty much from the 2 pink lines til your last breath on this earth….love you so much!

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner February 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

      That is a perfect way to put it! Definitely both magical and fearsome. I love it. Love you back, friend!

  2. Anna
    Anna February 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    Oh Julie, I read this with tears in my eyes. I’ve not lost one of my own but we buried my nephew just 6 months before my twins were born. And I’ve walked through this with way too many friends. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability. I will pray that the Spirit gives you a supernatural peace as you walk through this pregnancy with hope.

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner February 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

      Oh goodness, I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. Life is so fragile and so precious. Thanks for your prayers! Peace and hope are beautiful things.

  3. Julia Carson Hiltibidal February 25, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    I have been exactly where you are & will be praying for you & your new miracle! After my third miscarriage I told my husband that I was finished. We had a little boy & I wasn’t going to try for any more. I was tired of the roller coaster of emotions with each pregnancy. I’m so thankful my God had other plans & for the beautiful boy He blessed us with despite my being “finished”(along with 2 more). May He continue to give you peace as you carry this little one.

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner February 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

      Ah! What an awesome story of redemption and restoration. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing and thanks for the prayers!

  4. Natasha February 26, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I lost my first two pregnancies, one was a chemical and the next at 5w6d. When I got my third positive just a few days after my 30th birthday I was a mess. Hopeful is a wonderful way to look at it. Each day I feel him or hear his heart on the doppler, the more excited and hopeful I feel. I’m 15 weeks today. I hope for a successful pregnancy for you as well. Losing one, no matter how early, is indeed still a loss and it’s hard not to imagine who they would have been.

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner February 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

      Natasha, there is nothing happier than hearing that sweet heartbeat! And very soon, you’ll be feeling movement. You’ll have so much reassurance. I am sorry for your losses and happy for your pregnancy!

  5. Sam February 27, 2016 at 4:40 am #

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. Our stories are startlingly similar. I too had a missed miscarriage at ten weeks, delivered a rainbow baby (now extraordinarily energetic three-year-old), suffered another miscarriage (early but still distressing), and was blessed with a fourth pregnancy. At 38, I’m happy to report that I read your words while nursing our newborn in the quiet hours of this very early, Texas morning. I pray for the same for you in several months. Every time we share our stories, we help other women heal from their own losses and promise them that they are not alone. We remind those very lucky parents out there, who haven’t suffered such loss, of their good fortune. It urges us all to be a bit gentler with each other, because we go through so much in the courses our lives take, often quietly. Wishing you all the best.

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner March 4, 2016 at 8:55 am #

      Sam! Thank you, thank you for such a lovely comment. And congratulations on a new baby! Those early morning hours are exhausting, but I hope you are loving every second of it.

  6. Emma
    Emma March 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Julie. I appreciate your sweet and candid words.

  7. 225Mommy March 3, 2016 at 2:57 am #

    This completely sums up my life at this very moment. I’m 35, and in my 1st trimester of a pregnancy after a very painful loss. (I also have have two beautiful healthy children) You have described your range of emotions so eloquently, that I no longer feel like I’m all alone. I will forward this to my husband to help him understand this delicate situation from my perspective. God bless you and your sweet baby!!

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner March 4, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      Feeling alone in our grief is one of the worst parts of loss. I am genuinely glad we are able to come alongside one another and say “I know exactly how you feel”. I pray for a successful pregnancy for you!

  8. Greta March 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

    I’m 28 weeks (tomorrow) with my 4th pregnancy. #2 I lost at 8 weeks. I’m a midwife, I’m supposed to “know all the things.” I still feel like a fraud sometimes when I tell people about this baby. But finally the good days, when I can picture this baby at home with our family, are outnumbering the days when I’m scared.
    All the best luck for you and this baby!

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner March 4, 2016 at 9:03 am #

      28 weeks! You are so, so close. I am a couple of months behind you, and I am happy to say the good days are outnumbering the bad one here, too. Three cheers for us! Thanks for your kindness!

  9. BJacob March 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. It resonated so much with me as we’ve had very similar paths. I’m due with my “fourth” this summer. Your quote sums my thoughts up perfectly….”This is a moment by moment process, being hopeful. It is a fight to not let my mind go down the dark road of a doctor visit that ends in devastation. Some days I win that fight. Some days I lose.”I’m hopeful with resonates with me so much.” It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and will send my hope to you as well. Thank you!

    • Julie Turner
      Julie Turner March 4, 2016 at 9:00 am #

      I hope you are winning it today! I am praying right now for a healthy pregnancy, easy delivery, and perfect baby for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

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