Friday, July 1, 2011

When Will You Be Ready To Try Again?

It seems that there is a point when this question gets put out there.

Evidently we are at that point.

Actually, my husband has had to field this question more often than I have.  I guess most people are too tactful to say it to my face.  Oh, hi.  How's it going?  Sorry about your baby.  So, when do you think you'll start having unprotected sex with your husband?  I guess asking David sounds like the more polite option?  (To clarify:  It's not a polite question and unless you're the kind of friend who wouldn't need to ask that question, you really shouldn't be asking it).  But of course people are wondering.  It's been nearly seven months.  All the tests show that I'm perfectly healthy.  There's no clear reason why we wouldn't try again.  And people would like something to cheer for instead of feel sorry about.  After all, our story is heartbreaking.  Can't we give people a chance to feel happy for us?

We all know a new baby wouldn't--couldn't--replace Eliza.  What's that they say about "rainbow babies"?  (A saccharine term, but somewhat appropriate.) They don't make you forget the darkness and storms, but they certainly bring some sunshine when they arrive.  Of course another baby would bring some much-needed joy and laughter to our lives (after some long months of gestation, anxiety, and freaking all the hell out).

So, Readers, our answer is that we hope to have kids someday. We were thrilled to find out we were going to be parents and we had always hoped to have more than one baby.

There's just a few things we all need to keep in mind:

The date we start "trying" is not likely to be the date we get pregnant.  Although Teen Mom and a couple of people I know in real life would have you believe otherwise.  As many of my friends know very well, the hopes and disappointment of trying to get pregnant are challenging for most couples who don't get pregnant in round 1, regardless of whether they have experienced the loss of a child.  It felt like we had been trying forever before I got pregnant with Eliza.  And that only took a few months.  Are we ready to handle the ups and downs of that process, on top of the daily ebb and flow of grief?

We could be trying for months.  Years, I suppose.  Trying is not the beginning of a happy ending.  It's just an extension of our everyday experience of grief, coupled with an invitation for more stress and uncertainty.

We would desperately like something to look forward to, but we know too well that a pregnancy is no guarantee of a healthy baby.  So even if I got pregnant, the process of "looking forward" would become one of surviving a day at a time, my heart racing every time I imagine the baby's heart not beating.  How do I navigate that for nine months and still function in my daily life?

As my doctor said to me when I discussed with him all my worries about trying to get pregnant again, "Conceiving shouldn't be your problem."  Oh, that's right.  My problem is keeping the baby freaking ALIVE once it's more than a bundle of cells.  Small detail.  Kind of IMPORTANT.  Especially since we have NO IDEA what happened to make Eliza's heart stop beating.

So you see, "trying again" is not an easy fix for our grief.  It's more like an extension of our heartbreak, magnified by cautious hope.  It is emotionally exhausting even as a consideration, let alone a reality.

And as for just waiting to see what happens?  Well, as my old health teacher used to say (or maybe it wasn't really my health teacher, maybe I just saw this on TV and absorbed the lesson, wishing that my health teacher was cool and funny and didn't actually have a poster up in the classroom that said "Pet Your Dog, Not Your Date."  She seriously did.):  If you're not preventing pregnancy, you're trying.  And for the way my crazy brain works, that's absolutely true.  We're in it or we're not.  Pretending that we might just surprise ourselves and I'll be one of those girls who suddenly realizes I'm so late that I'm 14 weeks pregnant?  Not going to happen.

So the short answer is yes, we want to have kids someday.

But no matter when we start trying, we're no longer so certain of what that will look like or when or if that day will come.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not okay with that.  I'm not at peace with where we are.  I'm scared and angry and overwhelmed.  I want to have another baby.  SO MUCH.  I want Eliza back.  I want these things with equal intensity.  I'm not sure how to handle the hope and the sorrow and the fear and the guilt of wanting these things at the same time.

Eliza taught us how it feels to love a baby more than I'd even thought would be possible.  Of course we want the chance to experience that again, to live through everything we were robbed of last time, but all I can think about is how much I want Eliza here, too.  I know that hearts can expand exponentially, and that if we do have another baby, I know it won't mean that I love Eliza less.  I just don't know when that will start to feel true.

And I don't know how I could survive losing another baby.  Perhaps more accurately, I'm afraid I would survive it.  And then what kind of life would that be?

So I have no idea how to answer that question.  When will we be ready to try again?

Honestly, I don't know if we'll ever be ready to try again.  In fact, I figure we'll have to start trying long before we're actually ready, or we might be waiting forever.       

It feels like such a huge a risk, to try again.  To put our hearts on the line, knowing how quickly everything could slip away.

Taking that risk is pretty much the most terrifying thing I can imagine.

Except maybe not taking it.


  1. I feel like I should "select all", copy, then paste this into my blog. But I won't, because that would be creeeeeeeeeepy. ha

    So true. Especially the part about putting your heart on the line again... And knowing you would survive another loss, but do you really want that life... F.

    I don't really give people the option to ask me if/when we're going to try again. I'm pretty blatant and unemotional about the fact we will/are trying again. But after I tell them that, I want them to f off and don's ask me if I'm "preggers" again. GAH

  2. What a heart-wrenching decision.

  3. I went through this same thing when we started talking about trying again. It's terrifying and I don't think I was really ready when we did start. When I conceived again I realized I hadn't prepared myself for pregnancy and was caught off guard by how emotionally difficult it is. 29 weeks now, hoping to greet a screaming boy in September, but still very cautious about feeling too excited.

    It's such a personal and emotional decision trying again after a loss. I wish people understood that it's really none of their business, that you'll let them know when (if) you want to.

  4. I don't think you're every completely ready, you just have to take that leap of faith.

  5. such such a moving post! i'm in tears. "It's more like an extension of our heartbreak, magnified by cautious hope." love that quote. you are so right. getting pg will NOT right the wrongs in our lives - the loss of our precious babies. nothing will. but our rainbows will give us something/someone to continue living for when we want to give up. will give us a reason to keep trying to make it in this world, when all we want to do is be with our babes again.

    ready? you're right. i don't know that we will ever be. but as you said about Eliza, they have opened our hearts to love. they have taught us what it means. they have brought so much joy and happiness in this world. that the thought of never feeling that again, for me, is worse than this pain (which i really can't believe i'm saying since i would NEVER want to go through this pain again).

    ((hugs)) miss you my dear friend.

  6. Absolutely yes to all of this. Every month we fail at "trying" is another loss. Even if the only loss is hope. Sometimes it's more then I can handle.

  7. Yes, yes, and yes! I was like holy moly I must send a link to this post to everyone in my address book. But I won't do that. You have said everything so perfectly in exactly the way that I would want to say it to all those nosy prying people. (which if you couldn't tell that question is my number one irritant) Problem is that the right words never come at that moment. Usually no words at all, only shock coupled with a half-assed smile and shake of the head. Do people not realize that question hurts? Oh how I wish they did. All my love to you mama as you navigate this storm. I know you know you are not alone.

  8. so well said, every word of this.

  9. Thank you for writing this. I struggle with the whole " trying" thing. I freak out when I know I'm ovulating. I'm stuck between what I want so badly and fear more than anything- A new child and having another child die. Wishing you peace with whatever path you take, whenever you take it.

  10. People who haven't been through this & haven't had to make these kinds of decisions have NO idea... they just want you to have another baby because they figure everything will be all right then & they won't have to feel sad for you or worry about you anymore.

    Whatever you decide, the time will be right! (((hugs)))

  11. Gosh Brooke, ode to have such a clear and succinct head like yours!

    I thought I was ready to start the TTCing roller coaster, but looking back I'm just sure I needed to do something (anything) towards a future. Now I'm into this pregnancy, I know how little prepared I am - half the things you wrote, I am still struggling with. It is a long nine months and time enough to get your head around the many facets of pregnancy after loss.

    Sending strength and love
    Good luck

  12. It is such a leap of faith...

  13. Oh Brooke, I am going through the same Hell with ttc as well. Sort of want to, kinda don't. Hopeful and fucking terrified all rolled into one. What's a girl to do?
    And I know that when people ask if you are going to try again, they don't mean any harm. But it is such a loaded question, and depending on my mood, they could get a myriad of answers. Some friendly, some not so much.
    I know you will do what is right for you, and to Hell with everyone else.

  14. I just had to come to the conclusion that even though I am not fully ready, there will NEVER be a time when I will feel more ready because it will always be scary. So even though I hate ttc, hate that pregnancy scares the ba-jesus out of me and the thought of losing yet ANOTHER baby makes me want to crawl under a rock and never come out...that chance of having a real live screaming baby to keep makes me want to take that leap of faith. Nothing about this time is bliss only scary.

  15. I couldn't have said it better! It's such a difficult thing to consider and outside questions/pressure certainly doesn't help. The best conclusion we've reached is we will never be truly ready but if the thought of never being a parent (to a live child) hurts more than our grief we are ready enough to move forward.

  16. I don't think there ever really is a ready. But you get through it one day at a time which turns into weeks then months, just like grieving.

    Rainbow babies are absolutely not a cure all or replacement, as you know, and the sadness...that will always be there. But there is also something very healing about them, about being a mother to a living child, I am definitely healed in ways that I never thought possible.

    I hope that whenever you decide to try, ready or not, it happens quickly with as little stress as possible!

  17. You're never ready. Never, never, never. But there comes a time where you think, I have to DO this in order to do this. Maybe it will be a day when you realize you can't stand to put it off any more. When not being pregnant is worse (if only temporarily) than being pregnant. That's how it panned out for me, anyway. And it is the most frightening kind of hell imaginable--but you get through it, even so.

  18. Yes to all of this, a thousand times over.
    I can promise you one thing - this will be bloody hard. All of it. Every second. No point sugar coating this pregnancy after loss business.
    But we'll all be here for you, every step of the way.
    Love to you.

  19. Your final lines:

    "To put our hearts on the line, knowing how quickly everything could slip away.

    Taking that risk is pretty much the most terrifying thing I can imagine.

    Except maybe not taking it."

    Exactly. Exactly the thoughts and feelings swirling around my heart and brain every single day for the last 801 days. How many more days can I feel this way? Something I've learned is that's something I can't control.

    It's just so damn hard.

    Thank you for writing this. Thinking of you. Thinking of us all.

  20. It is hard. Making the decision, that leap of faith. The disappointments, the longing, the stress. And then when it happens, pregnancy after loss is about the longest 10 months you'll ever experience, but as Sally says, we'll be here for you.

  21. I want to say you'll know when you're ready, but "ready" can mean a lot of things, and I think what I really mean is, you'll know when you want to more than you're afraid to.

    It's so hard, though, to field those questions and listen to yourself and what you want and need when surrounded by the (often well-meaning and loving) pressure of those around you who want you to have a "happy ending."

    Thinking of you and sending love.