Family Planning After Babyloss

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photo by Beth MoreyBefore I became a mother, I used to image that my husband and I would have three kids, all quite close in age.  I didn’t think to worry overly much about it, though.  How hard could it be to create the family we wanted?

Then our first child, our sweet daughter, died and was born.

And suddenly, the idea of family planning felt incredibly ludicrous.

Because how can you plan for the future when you’re still picking up the pieces of what was supposed to be, and the edges of all that shattered slice deep into your tender palms?

Our rainbow son is nearly nine months old, and the question of trying again for a third child is looming large in my mind.  I don’t know how to decide that the time is right to try to conceive once again.  When I hear friends who have not lost a child discuss family planning, they say that (finances and wisdom allowing) they keep adding children until their families feel complete.

But my family?  It will never feel complete, because one of its members is missing.

Even though I have our sweet son here, I long for another baby to hold and cherish and watch grow.  But it is impossible for me to tell if its a future child I’m wanting, or the daughter I had who is gone.

As we all have learned too well, pregnancy is not something to be entered into lightly.  I only want to walk back into the uncertainty of rainbow pregnancy if I am sure it’s a third child I’m wanting and not our first that I’m missing.

And then there is the matter of spacing (I write this as if I have any real amount of control over such a thing).

I still wish for my children to be close in age.  I love how close in age my daughter and son would have been, if she had lived — a mere 10 months separate them.  But now it is too late for us to try for such a small gap between our son and a third child.  And frankly, after 17 nearly consecutive months of pregnancy, my body needs a rest.

But I also don’t want to wait too long to try to conceive.  Because should another of our pregnancies end in tragedy, I want our living son to be as unaffected as possible.  I don’t want to expose him to the tremendous heartbreak and confusion of having a sibling die before, during, or after birth.  So if we try again while he’s still quite young, he would remain somewhat protected from the sting of babyloss if such a thing befell our family once more.

And all this?  It’s just sad that anyone should have to take this into account in their family planning.  Sad, and painful, and unfair.  For us, it is yet another of the still-unfolding side effects of our daughter’s death, one new wave in a pond full of ripples that her stillbirth set in motion.

I don’t know how to plan for the future of our family — or even simply know what to hope for.  There is so much confusion, and fear, and pain.  And nothing, nothing, is under our control.

Grief upon grief, even when making room for new life.  Will we ever feel that we are standing on solid ground again?

What do you think of the term “family planning” now that you’ve been affected by loss or infertility?  How have your family planning efforts changed by your struggles?


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Beth About Beth

Beth Morey is the mixed media artist behind Epiphany Art Studio . Her soulful and whimsical creations are born out of the griefs, joys, and not-knowings of life. She is also the founder of Made , an online course exploring the intersection of faith and art, and the author of the creative healing workbook, Life After Eating Disorder. Beth loves meeting new friends through her blog , where she writes about faith, creativity, and life after stillbirth. She lives in Montana with the Best Husband Ever, their rainbow son, and their three naughty dogs. You can find Beth at Epiphany Art Studio — www.epiphanyartstudio.etsy.com or at her blog, www.bethmorey.com. You can also see her work at
Life After Eating Disorder -- http://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Eating-Disorder-Have/dp/1478105453/

Comments

  1. Our family planning was also destroyed with my son’s loss. We wanted several children with no more than 2 years between siblings, and after having my daughter, were excited to get pregnant again with my son due 18 months later. We were both so happy over the fact that our daughter would have a sibling close in age, as we were both raised as only children. We bought double strollers, new car seats, an extra bed. Then my son was stillborn at 33 weeks due to a cord accident. All my plans of seeing them grow up together, having each other & us disappeared & I feel like a horrible parent. I cannot kiss & hold my son who I miss every day, and I could not give my daughter the “baby brofer” that she was so excited for. We are now expecting again, and if this baby makes it, it will not be with the closeness in age/abilities I had dreamed of, and I cannot help but wonder if my daughter and this new child will be able to be friends, or the age gap will only lead to distance between them.

    • Your children will love each other and your daughter will get to be the second Mommy and a teacher. They will be wonderful friends. After the loss of our second child, we ended up with 6 years between our first two children. They are wonderful friends. Then, the second and third child came 22 months apart. They love each other also. All three of my kids are friends. Then, after 16 years, we got pregnant again after being told we couldn’t. But, sadly, our little girl passed away. Then one year to the day of losing our baby, we brought our first grandchild home. I am a sea of emotions that nobody needs to deal with. But, don’t you worry, your kids will be great together!

    • Big hugs, Ashley. You are absolutely not a horrible parent. <3

    • My first two children, two boys, are four years apart. Our second and third would’ve been 2.5 years apart but we lost our longed-for third baby at 19 weeks. My boys are best friends, my oldest the protector of his little brother. They’re as thick as thieves and love each other more fiercely than even I could’ve imagined.

      The age difference between children has absolutely zero to do with how they’ll interact with and relate to one another. The environment that you create in your home, the familial bonds and how important you make those bonds are what matter. When you create a home where harmony and love and unity is the focus, your children will follow suit. All siblings fight, regardless of how close or far apart their ages. But if family takes precedence over everything else, and peaceful resolutions are commonplace, your children will love one another even when they disagree. They’ll be able to get through squabbles knowing that family is everything.

      I used to be concerned with the age difference, concerned about having my babies close in age for their benefit and so we could finish building our family in a timely manner. But now that my soulmate, my husband, and I have started creating our family, I realize that there’s nothing I’d rather do than parent lots of children with this man. Why worry about age difference when it makes NO difference? Don’t spend another minute worrying about that. There are many siblings born very close in age that go on to have no adult relationship; there are siblings that have a large age gap and are best friends into their golden years and beyond. Just love your children and your partner and the rest will fall into place.

  2. I think that you’ll have another child, Beth. I do. And I think that when you’re holding him or her in your arms and Jacob is meeting him/her for the first time, none of you will care how much time went between their births.

    Also, it’s a myth that siblings close in age are close in other ways. My brother and I are 14 months apart and he’s never liked me. Even as fully grown adults he doesn’t like me. It is what it is.

  3. I identify with this so much! If my daughter Naomi had lived, there would have been 18 months between her and her big sister. Instead, three losses later, there are four years between my daughter and my rainbow-baby son. And while I would love to have another, those four years also mean that I am now in my forties instead of my late thirties. Family planning means something very different now than it did when I was younger and more naive. And for some reason, having another baby now is scarier than when I was pregnant with my son, and desperate to feel life in my womb rather than death. Now I almost feel like I should “stop while I’m ahead”…even though my faith in God says that the world does not really work that way.

  4. Beth, I’m so sorry about your loss. I can’t offer any grand advice here except that God is sovereign and His timing is perfect and we really can’t determine our outcomes, we just have to do the next right thing in front of us.

  5. We started trying for a family in 2004. After 2 years, in july 2006, we sought help and were told we had a less than 2% chance of conceiving on our own due to male factor infertility.
    We got pregnant on our own with our miracle baby, McKenna, in Sept 2006 proving the doctors wrong. I had a textbook pregnancy. McKenna was due May 25, 2007.

    On May 26, she suffered a fetomaternal hemorrhage inside me and died almost instantly. I felt something was wrong immediately, we rushed to the hospital but were too late. We were told “sorry there’s no more heartbeat”. And “you can start trying again in only 6 weeks!”

    I was induced and delivered my stillborn first daughter May 27, 2007.
    Our world changed forever, we changed forever.

    3 years of trying after mckenna’s death/birth…nothing. We had done 7 IUIs…nothing. We turned to IVF, got pregnant and miscarried at 11 weeks. We regrouped for a year and seriously thought “do we want to keep trying? Can we emotionally keep trying?” and we missed and wanted McKenna back more than ever, wanted our lil’11 weeker back. Wanted a “do over” of that last doctor appt on May 22, 2007 when McKenna was still alive, and have them somehow realize our baby was in danger.

    We decided to not give up because McKenna wouldn’t want us to and we did another round of IVF. We got pregnant again and were terrified.

    But….despite several scares during the pregnancy, we got to our goal and I had a planned c-section at 37 weeks and delivered our healthy rainbow baby girl, McKenna’s little sister, our second miracle baby- Myah Hope.

    And now my heart is somewhat scotch-taped back together, but still with that piece missing, that piece that McKenna took with her, when she went back up to Heaven.

    • Oops- posted too soon.

      So yes, I totally get it. Because instead of being 32 having my first baby…then 34-35ish having my second…. I’m 38 turning 39 with my rainbow having just turned 1. And we have 4 frozen embryos and need to decide soon when we will try again for #3.
      It is not how we saw our family planning future way back when….

    • Hi Sarah,
      hope this message reaches you. I did have the same fetomaternal hemorrhage. May I ask you if they suggested you to do additional tests before ttc? Sorry to bother but FMH is so rare that is difficult to connect with other moms to which happened the same unlucky thing. thanks a lot. I’m thinking about try again…

  6. Our family planning was destroyed by baby loss as well. I have two tween daughters from my first marriage. I had thought I was done having kids and would only ever have the two. Then I married my high school love 4 years ago, and we knew we wanted to have children together.

    We TTC for 3 years and went through 5 early losses before conceiving our youngest daughter, Clara. We were so excited, and shocked beyond all comprehension when we found out that she had died two days before she was born on July 1st, 2012. I was 42 weeks 3 days pregnant.

    Our immediate reaction was to want another baby. I needed my empty arms filled. Now, almost a year of dedicated charting, TTC, and another early loss… I struggle with whether or not I want to continue trying.

    If Clara had lived, we would probably have had (or at least tried for) one more baby, because I love the 17 months spacing of my older girls. But now… Clara was 11 years younger than her oldest sister. If I got pregnant now, my oldest would be almost 13 before the baby was here. The thought of losing another baby terrifies me, as does the thought of a fourth c-section, and how close I came to dying of the uterine infection that killed our baby.

    But then, the decision to be done isn’t exactly right either… and in the two months since we stopped actively trying, I find myself crossing my fingers for a happy accident, every time.

  7. The part about spacing between siblings – that hurts the most. Our son and daughter would have been one month shy of two years apart, which seemed pretty perfect to me. As it stands, even if I am pregnant this very minute and all goes well, he will be over three years old before getting a sibling. I would never have picked that plan for us, for him. But I have to trust that God knew this would be part of our story, part of my son’s story too. And I hope a sister in Heaven will help him understand eternal things better one day and having a baby sibling at an older age will give him a special protector relationship with them. Hopefully …

  8. My fourth pregnancy ended in miscarriage. It was very painful, in part, because I’d head God say to me very clearly: “Thank me for your son,” which had prompted me to take the pregnancy test. I’d received those words as a promise and just felt so confused and hurt when I miscarried. I never wondered about trying to get pregnant, again; I still believed one more soul was coming to me: maybe because–I don’t mean to drag this out, but–I’d seen my older son in a dream before he was born, and that moment came, in my real life, when he was about 6.5. I’d also seen my youngest in a dream, and I’d been given a name. I honestly just never considered that the lost child might be the one I’d seen, the one who’d been named. I got pregnant for the fifth time in my very next cycle, and my baby boy has the name I’d been given and (I think) the face I saw, although he’s still too young for me to say for sure.

    I wouldn’t have typed all this out, here, if you hadn’t asked the questions. I’m so sorry that you’re just not sure if the person you miss is the one you lost or the one who’s yet to come. I’m so sorry for all your grief and hurt and confusion…and, and. I will say that I was a wreck my fifth pregnancy. An absolutely, anxiety-ridden wreck. And I thought consciously: I am so glad my loss was my fourth pregnancy and not my first (because I hadn’t worried very much at all during my first three pregnancies, before the miscarriage). Loss does change things, I think, for many mommies in terms of their sense of security and wellbeing. I encourage you to pray–not that you aren’t praying, already–about another baby and about any and all negative feelings you have.

    In my life in general, any and all hope, peace, etc. that I’ve managed to experience has stemmed from my relationship with Christ Jesus. It gets crazy sometimes, but–even when I’m broken and/or don’t understand–I know He’s with me.

    Lots and lots of love to you, Beth.
    +

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