Pregnancy After Loss

by Gabrielle E. Morgano, Staff Writer, Asher Family Foundation

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My second miscarriage happened just two weeks after I found out I was pregnant. We had tried for over a year that “cycle” of working, praying, and hoping to conceive. I was on vacation with my mom, and I had a gut feeling that God had given us new life.

Unfortunately, that new, small, purpose-filled life only grew in my womb for a short time. I knew once I began to bleed and cramp that it was over. Just six weeks and a few days with our baby, and only 14 days of knowing about his or her existence. Miscarriage was our season. Grief was our season. Frustration was our season. All over again. That was right around the beginning of October.

The day after I found out that our second pregnancy had ended is the day we found out that our offer was accepted on our new home. It all felt like one confusing, gigantic blur. I was mourning while simultaneously celebrating something we had prayed for and dreamt about for a long while. We moved into our new home right before Thanksgiving, and it was only a few days later that I had that gut feeling once again. I was late, and I knew the familiar symptoms well. I took the at-home pregnancy test in our new bathroom filled with boxes and that “just-moved-in” kind of acceptable, exciting clutter. When those two pink lines appeared, a heavy sigh escaped my lips. After the initial rush of adrenaline, my heart sank and I immediately became… annoyed. Here we go again – these are the words that floated to the top of my consciousness.

When I found out I was pregnant with our first baby, I was elated and innocent and completely naïve (as you hope and pray any new mother will be when she finds out she’s expecting). I wrapped up my test in a bag and gave it to Tony as an early Christmas present. He opened it, I recorded his reaction via video, and he was adorable. With our second pregnancy, I told him while sitting on my parents’ couch. We were both in shock since conception had become such a painful struggle for us. We laughed and cried and praised God for His willingness to simply give us life at all – no matter if it was going to end or not. The third time around, however, I suddenly became tired. I literally had no energy for cute announcements or trying to fake untainted happiness. After sitting and pondering for a few minutes with what I assume was a look of bewilderment on my face, I walked downstairs and slid the test over to Tony on our kitchen table. He stared at it, his eyebrows raised, and he kept eating his dinner (the two of us look back on this and laugh at how awkward this was). After several seconds ticked by, he looked at me and said, “Wow. You were right. How do you feel about this?” I think I’ll be forever thankful for the peace that God suddenly and supernaturally poured over me in that moment. The initial feelings of dread and confusion and worry quietly subsided for the rest of the evening. As much as I didn’t want it to, my heart had hope. As greatly as I wanted to protect myself from joy that would inevitably be ripped away, and as badly as I longed to know with certainty that this baby wasn’t going to make it either, I was exposed and vulnerable to God’s goodness. Tony walked over and hugged me, we prayed and thanked God for this new life, we asked Him to give us courage for whatever new season of grief or joy we were about to walk through, and we worshipped Him softly.

This probably seems like a bizarre, crazy whirlwind of emotions, doesn’t it? This was only the beginning.

As I write this, I’m 18 weeks pregnant. The longest I’d been pregnant before carrying this baby was 14 weeks, and our first child had unknowingly passed away at 13 weeks. I’m sure that it’s probably assumed that if you are pregnant after experiencing prior pregnancy loss(es), you’d be thrilled and constantly overjoyed that “this one” is working out just fine. PAL (pregnancy after loss) has in fact been one of the most difficult and challenging things I’ve ever walked through in my life.

Once the “realization bliss” that I was pregnant faded, I wandered into a period of weeks that were dark and lonely. I was unceasingly nauseated, and I was fatigued to the point of hardly being able to empty the dishwasher without having to nap afterwards. I hate the idea of wishing time away, but I wanted nothing more than for the hours to rapidly quicken. The days seemed to drag, and anxiety became my best friend. I wasn’t comfortable unless I was worrying. I wasn’t “controlling my pregnancy” if I wasn’t believing that it would end just the same as my other ones had - in grief. In misery. In death. As much as I promised myself that I wouldn’t, I found myself to be googling everything (and I mean everything). Every single symptom (or lack of), miscarriage statistics (even though I knew those statistics to be impersonal and not applicable to my own experience), and stories of other women who had suffered multiple pregnancy losses. I spiraled into a pit of nothingness. My heart was weary and my soul was completely downcast. I chose to ignore hope, to refute the success stories, and to sit comfortably in my sorrow.

But friends – the thought that I am alone in this pregnancy, or that the anxiety has been winning, or that even death is the end-all-be-all of any of my pregnancies – these are such LIES. Jesus has been there through every sleepless night, every ultrasound, every time I’ve felt this baby move, and every moment I thought as if I was becoming unhinged. The reality of these past several months has been hardship and fear having a grip upon my life. But the greater reality has been goodness. Goodness in the form of this sweet baby’s life itself – life that we have prayed for unceasingly. Goodness in the inexplicable peace that only accompanies being in the glorious presence of God and being washed over by His mighty love. Goodness in His forgiveness and gentle grace for when I’ve weakly chosen to trust in my own worry and “control” rather than in Him. Goodness the has stemmed from the kindness of friends that have prayed over our family loyally, checked in on us routinely, and spoken hard truths to us in the midst of the darkness so that we might remember God’s creation of and sovereignty over life (Job 33:4), His incredible love for us (1 John 3:1), and that the Lord asks us to come to Him and find rest when we are burdened (Matthew 11:28-30).

Since we found out about this pregnancy, Tony and I have been meditating on one of my favorite pieces of scripture – Psalm 139:13-16, CSB

“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.”

Isn’t this jaw-dropping? Every time that I read this, I am extremely humbled. Why do I continue to feel as if I am in control of this little one’s life and quickly forget that it is God who gives and takes away (Job 1:21)? Why do I doubt that if I am to face yet another loss, the Lord would be with me and love me faithfully as He has done the first two times? Why do I cease to praise Him for the wondrous work He has done in my womb three times now? Why do I fear when He asks me not to (John 14:27)?

We are so, so human. And our humanity continues to magnify our undying need for Jesus. And I certainly need Him. In miscarriage, in peaceful childbearing, in parenthood, in everything.

I think one thing that moms who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss know well is that there is no “safe zone” – neither in utero or post-childbirth. Loss can happen at any moment. After your first trimester ends, after the anatomy scan is performed successfully, after labor has begun, or after your baby has already been born. As I walk through this season, I’m learning to heed Jesus’ precious words and be obedient when He says to seek His kingdom first and not to worry about tomorrow – “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34, NIV). Today, I’m pregnant. Today, I have knowledge that our baby is healthy. Today, I’m expecting to labor and deliver this child in late July. And today, and for the remainder of eternity, two of my children are walking with Jesus face-to-face and are fully immersed in His glory.

As far as tomorrow goes, I can rest, knowing that in life or death, my God sits on the throne – and He loves me, my husband, and our baby – fully, flawlessly, and wonderfully.

LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you. I will praise your name, for you have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. Isaiah 25:1, CSB

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