Still Standing

Taking the leap: trying again after loss

The room was quiet, almost silent. Crisp, white sheets covered the hospital bed; the lighting low; an air of calm, despite the waves of pain that washed over me with each contraction. Mere hours earlier, the words, “I’m so sorry”, had become forever emblazoned in my mind, their imprint deep and permanent in my soul. I understood immediately, my baby girl had died during the throes of early labour, most likely when my waters broke, early in the induction process. It was instant, we were later told, she didn’t suffer, the placenta simply failed. We will never know for certain what happened, but what we do know is she was ready to be born, and she was perfect.

Related: Little Lives Can’t Be Replaced

In that moment of hearing she was gone, I knew had a job to do, a baby to birth, and I didn’t allow the tears to flow until she was in my arms the following morning. Then the desperate raw agony of her loss crashed down upon me, an avalanche of breath-stealing pain. I loved her more than I knew possible, my little miracle, my Maeve.

Our journey to conceive Maeve was long and complicated with many moments of heartache. It had taken four grueling years to get to that hospital ward. And so in that dimly-lit room, in the midst of labour, knowing only a silent birth awaited, the thought first occurred, the words were first whispered…”we will try again…we have to try again”.

I hope that doesn’t seem heartless or insensitive. It was never about replacing Maeve, she will forever be my first baby, the one who made me a mother in the most beautiful yet devastating way. But for so long, all we had known was the dream of parenthood, the hope and then trying again and again and again. And then there were nine months of peaceful, uncomplicated pregnancy. It was still full of worries, but we were finally there, a part of that elusive club and I genuinely loved every single pregnant minute. And so it seemed natural in the dark chaos of early loss to grab a hold of those familiar ropes again, tightly grasping what we knew so well: we try and we try and we hope and we hope.

In the early weeks after Maeve’s birth, there were doctors’ appointments, blood tests and a deep determination to reclaim my body, to find balance, to prepare. The wait seemed endless, punctuated by the tears that seemed endless too. But after seven weeks my body was ready. My heart, my mind, as ready too as they ever could be. I was so frightened, to try again meant the chance for failure, the risk of another loss. But it was also my biggest reason for living. It felt like the only thing that could possibly begin to repair the great hole in my heart, the one that was ripped open by the scream that rose from the depths of my being in the moment I learned she was gone. When we spoke about trying again, a doctor asked us, “what if it doesn’t work?”. And our reply: “nothing could be worse than what we’ve already endured”.

Related: Grief, Time and Pregnancy After Loss

And so we leaped, and just weeks after Maeve’s birth, I had reason to smile again, to quietly hope, to begin to believe in my body, in the tenacity of life, of its will to thrive, even in the harshest of circumstances. I remember sitting in my garden quietly despairing at its overgrown state, until I saw the weeds in a different light. I saw how they grew with stubborn determination, not letting anything stand in their way, even in the darkest corners of our garden. It helped me to believe that another baby could fight to grow inside of me, in the space carved out perfectly by Maeve.

As my second baby began to grow, so did my spirit, my hope, and my faith in a future in which joy could bring light into the darkness of my grief. Trying to conceive after loss was fraught with fear and anxiety, but it was what I needed to cling to in order to survive. When to try again is a deeply personal decision and one that requires courage beyond the imagination of those who don’t walk this path. But it is a choice I am very glad that I made. Taking that leap so soon after Maeve’s birth was the best thing I could have done. It was motivating in a way that nothing else could have been in driving me to claw my way out of the depths of her loss.

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