by Ann Douglas and Lynda P. Haddon
It takes courage to try again when your previous pregnancy has ended in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of an infant(s). You know that there’s a chance that you may experience another loss, but you’re willing to risk it all for a shot at the ultimate prize: a healthy baby(ies) that you can call your own.
As committed as you may be to having another baby, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit nervous about planning another pregnancy. After all, you already know that not all pregnancies result in picture-perfect happy endings. Like it or not, the innocence that you enjoyed when you found yourself pregnant for the very first time is gone forever. You can’t get it back.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself experiencing a smorgasbord of different emotions when you first make the decision to start trying to conceive – everything from joy to worry to outright panic. Some days, you may feel convinced that becoming pregnant again is the only thing that will bring joy back into your life. At other times, you may wonder if you’re crazy to even think about exposing yourself to the possibility of heartbreak again.
You may also find that your partner has mixed feelings about trying again, whether or not he’s actually willing to express these emotions to you. After all, he’s not just worried about the well-being of any future babies you may conceive: he’s also worried about the impact of any subsequent losses on you as well as dealing with his own feelings of loss, helplessness and grief.
If you’re having difficulty deciding whether or not the two of you are actually ready to embark on another pregnancy, you might find it helpful to consider the following questions:
One mother who lost twins and found herself pregnant again six months after their loss had some important feedback for others. She noted that she and her husband had difficulties marking the first year anniversaries that arise after a loss: Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birth/Death Day, Christmas, etc. while being pregnant with a new baby. While their new baby is a much wanted Treasure, she advises that parents need to be aware of possible conflicting feelings about being pregnant at the same time as dealing with loss emotions around the anniversaries of losses. These unexpected emotions took them completely by surprise.
In addition, Mom noted that as her subsequent pregnancy inadvertently followed one year later the time line of their lost pregnancy, they became aware that they could have been preparing for a birthday party for two two-year olds rather than celebrating an upcoming first birthday for a singleton. The family was aware that but for their loss, their lives would have been totally different and they needed to work through their feelings in this regard.
While there are a lot of factors to weigh in deciding whether or not you’re ready to start trying to conceive again, your best bet is to listen to your heart. Most couples instinctively know whether they’re ready again or not. Consider these words of wisdom from Cynthia, 35, who experienced a series of miscarriages before giving birth to her second living child last year: “If you have to consciously decide, then it’s probably the wrong time. It’s kind of like being in love. You always wondered how you would know when you were, but when you were, you just knew it. I think it’s the same. When you’re ready to try, you’ll want to try. It’s really that simple.”
Ann Douglas is the co-author of Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss (Taylor Publishing, October 2000) and The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby (IDG Books, 1999). Ann has written over 30 books, many addressing a wide variety of parenting issues. She is the mother of four living children as well as Laura, who was stillborn in October of 1996 as the result of an umbilical cord knot. She can be contacted via her web site atwww.having-a-baby.com
Lynda P. Haddon has been working extensively with multiples and their families for over two decades. She has three grown daughters, including dizygotic twins. Her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Lynda has spoken on several occasions to healthcare professionals regarding the unique issues of loss in multiple birth. Lynda has been Chair of the Loss of Multiples Support Network for Multiple Births Canada for 15+ years and has been providing support and assistance to bereaved multiple birth families for over 20 years. She has also revised and revamped Multiple Births Canada’s three Loss booklets and written many articles on various aspects of loss in multiple birth.