Loss and Subsequent Pregnancy
Since losing Felicity, I’ve had people ask me fairly often about pregnancy. We wrestled with this issue almost immediately after Felicity’s death, which was an issue all to itself. The following questions have either been asked of me, or I have asked them of myself:
When is it okay to start thinking about getting pregnant again?
In the weeks immediately following Felicity’s death, I remember berating myself for even thinking about pregnancy with another child. Part of why I thought of it so often was that my arms were empty, my home was empty (relatively speaking)—raising a newborn was what I planned to do during this year. All the plans I had made for our immediate life in October, November, December included planning for a newborn.
So part of why pregnancy was on my mind a lot was panic. What am I going to do now?!?!
I also thought a lot of things like this:
It takes so stinking long to get to the point we were (39 weeks)!!! I better hurry up and get pregnant, in order to catch up to where I thought I would be in my life.
Maybe we should just start the adoption process right now and try to get pregnant.
Many of the women I had been pregnant with the first time around had already had their second and some were even pregnant with their third. Women have such comparison complexes, and losing our child was not helping when I looked around at the people who were “ahead” of me.
Am I betraying my dead child to think of more children? Am I trying to replace her?
I was really afraid that if we thought of other children that we would be trying to replace Felicity. A week or so after we lost her, though, Abraham had a rich, God-ordained conversation with pastor/author Randy Alcorn, who was in Minneapolis speaking at the Desiring God conference.
Randy helped us understand something that has been pivotal in our thinking about subsequent children. He explained it something like this: There are at least two voids that you are living with right now. There is the void that Felicity has left in your family. That void will never be filled; it will always be there. A separate void is your desire for more children, which you hoped would be filled in part by Felicity’s arrival. It’s important to recognize that these are separate voids/longings—Felicity and more children.
That really freed us from the guilt we felt whenever we thought of our desire to add to our family. Another thing my wise mother-in-law mentioned early on as well was, “You’re no more trying to replace Felicity by having another child than you are trying to replace Orison [our living child].”
It’s just not replacement.
“I think I feel ready, but…”
I remember getting an email awhile back from someone I didn’t know who experienced something similar to us. She was asking me about pregnancy, saying she “felt ready,” even though it had only been a couple months since the death of their child.
When I read that I thought to myself, “I wonder if she really feels ready, or feels like she has to defend herself in saying that she feels ready?” If it had only been a couple months since her child died, at least in my experience with grieving, she hadn’t even hit the reality phase of the loss really setting in.
But I definitely don’t think that makes pregnancy a non-option for her. I think you can be grieving and pregnant at the same time. If I had to wait to get pregnant until I felt like I was “over” the loss of Felicity, I would never have more children. Then both of the voids are never dealt with and I’ve basically told God, “No! I will not pursue one of the desires of my heart, a desire that I feel is from you.”
Do Not Give Way to Fear.
Obviously the decision to add to your family after a loss is much weightier than prior to the loss. Many people lose children due to a genetic cause, making pregnancy very risky for them and/or their baby. Perhaps some women feel as though they can’t go through that much pain again. Maybe some feel, in praying through their particular situation, that God is not leading them to add to their family right away.
I think there is wisdom in waiting for some measure of healing to take place. I also don’t think it’s unwise to step forward quickly in faith and hope that God will add to your family if it’s His will, even as you weep. In deciding to move forward immediately or wait, I think it’s important to check our hearts continually for fear.
The motivation to get pregnant quickly should not come from fear (like the panic I referenced above). God is your provider.
The decision to wait for a season should not come from fear (self-protection). God is your defender.
A good reminder for all of us is Sarah, wife of the faithful Abraham. I love 1 Peter 3:6.
“…you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
The verse doesn’t just say don’t be afraid. It legitimizes the fact that there are frightening things in life. It’s where we place our fear that makes us Sarah’s children. We are to cast our cares on Him, because he cares for us.
Life after a loss is so altered. Nothing is as black and white as it used to be, once the innocence of never having lost is stripped away. This decision is not an easy one. It’s important to trust God’s work in your heart to know how (and when) to move forward.
So you can pray for us. We go into the hospital tonight for a Friday morning induction.