Thursday, December 28, 2006

Managing a Complicated Pregnancy after a Loss

I think it takes an incredibly strong person to face the ups and downs that a pregnancy can bring. The twinges, aches, pains the emotional turmoil take on an entirely new meaning after a parent has lost a baby. Is this particular twinge normal or is it a sign that something is wrong? What if I ignore it and something horrible happens?

Even faith-filled individuals can struggle with these questions or concerns. Here are how other parents are handling pregnancy after loss. Some of their stories are encouraging, others not so encouraging. Pick the meat from the bones and hopefully you'll read something that inspires you.

Other Resources

Complicated Pregnancy
Pregnancy Loss
Pregnancy after Miscarriage
Faith through Loss
Faith Stories

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Banishing Negativity

I think a situation that many bereaved parents will face is a pregnancy after a loss (or losses). Is it possible to experience a season of joy and celebration without the negativity or anxiety?

I mean, we can't forget the past, but we can choose not to meditate on it, right? I've been reading through the book of Mark and am amazed at many people's simple faith. Throughout the book of Mark, Jesus tells people over and over ... don't fear, just believe ... your faith has made you whole ... ask, believe and you will receive. And he says we must have faith as a mustard seed, meaning once planted and nurtured it will grow exponentially.

When we're faced with uncertain situations like a pregnancy after loss, we can take the doctor's words, our bad memories and fears as a grain of salt. We can stand tall and full of joy knowing that God will answer our requests. Oh, this is easier said than done.

Many of you have read my story ... three babies all between 24-25 weeks - died - within a three year period. Today is the first day I'm sharing that I am pregnant a fourth time. In this pregnancy, I'm approaching the same point where I've experienced loss before.

You know what? I'm not giving in to the fear. I'm choosing to enjoy each day. I've given this baby to God months ago and I refuse to take him or her back. As long as I think my baby's survival hinges on my own effort ... that I have a bit of control over his or her life, there is room for anxiety (followed by misery!).

I'm happy to share that I do have peace and faith that I will hear my baby's first cry and I'll experience many, many years of such crying!

How I banish negative thinking

  • Each day I make a simple choice: I will not compare this pregnancy to my last three. This IS a unique experience and the Most High God is protecting my child.
  • I ask God to help me believe, when I feel in doubt. I also share my feelings (and fears) with trusted people who believe as I do. They encourage my faith and discourage doubts and negativity.
  • I don't listen to those who want to share their fears with me about this pregnancy.
  • I believe in the power of words, I will not allow myself to go on-and-on about the past.
(I'll share more later)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dealing with Happy Endings

A friend's baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit recently and I had some major flashbacks to the days when my babies spent time there. I realized that I was on top of my game (so to speak) while comforting a friend in crisis.

The days passed and I felt such compassion as I loved on her and consoled her during a time of uncertainty. I felt nothing but optimism concerning her little one's full recovery and I looked forward to holding her when she arrived home.

Then the day came for her to actually come home.

This was a scenario with which I had no experience. I never had my own happy ending. I understood the emotional drama a NICU stay could create for a parent, but I never knew the joy of welcoming my baby home.

My heart filled with such longing. An emptiness crowded my initial joy for my friend. I hung back as they walked into the house with their carefully bundled baby. How would I react? What could I do to avoid the uncertainty of the moment?

My friend handed me the baby and a sweet hope pushed away my sadness and fears. She was beautiful and I knew in that moment my time would come, too. I can't see the future but Romans 8:25 says that if we hope for that which we see not, with patience we will wait for it (paraphrase). If we could see the future clearly, we would have nothing to hope for.

Until my hope becomes reality (and after!) I choose to create a life focused on a bright future rather than a painful past.

Oh, and my reaction? Yes, I did go on and cry my eyes out, but I shared my feelings with my friend which opened a dialog between us that we would have missed out on had I kept quiet. She was understanding and supportive and reinforced my belief that it is crucial to talk about how we feel instead of pretending all is well.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Uncontrolled Crying

Last night, I was at an event that the Army has dubbed a Hail and Farewell. The senior personnel get together to welcome all those senior leaders who are coming to the unit and say a special goodbye to those who are leaving for other assignments.

An innocent evening out, I supposed. Great food. Wonderful conversation and lots of well-wishes.

But then. The evening took an unexpected turn. The commander began to call all the couples who had babies during the unit's deployment to Iraq and he proceeded to hand them silver baby cups with a special engraving on the side.

My heart hung in the air. I silently, frantically wondered will they remember me? Will they mention our baby?

My more sensible side reminded me that no one acknowledges dead babies. It just ain't gonna happen. Not tonight, not never. But a mother's heart can't always reason - with reason.

As they moved on to the next part of the program, I saw there was still a silver cup up there ... my mother's heart rationalized that maybe they were saving Elyana's cup for the end ... the grand finale even.

My heart dropped and I felt my skin flush and the tears beginning to well. I tried the "oops I gotta fumble for something in my purse" trick and the "I'm going to focus on happy thoughts" trick ... but to no avail. I ended up in the bathroom crying my heart out. I sobbed those deep empty cries and promised myself that I would never forget her. I would always acknowledge her and I would always love her.

In my mind, I truly want to move on from the pain. I don't want to cry for my little ones anymore. I don't like to revisit the hurt of our losses. But you know what? Although I don't want to hurt and I don't want to cry I will allow myself to experience the ups and downs that come with the grief process.

Allowing oneself to feel is the only way to get through this season and return to wholeness. Although I don't experience constant reminders of Elyana's death, they will come at unexpected times ... like last night's event.

Sometimes a familiar song, the holiday season, viewing happy families or eating your favorite comfort food can trigger those uncontrollable crying spells.

Be gentle with yourself, always knowing you aren't alone in your pain and that joy does come in the morning ... but only if you're expecting it to make an appearance.