Loss and life go hand-in-hand. People we love come and go, and in the wake of a loss we hold onto their memories tightly. But what happens when you lose a pregnancy or a baby? Not only is there a loss of life, but there's a loss of memories — of moments we envisioned but were never given the chance to experience. And when you're trying to start or expand your family it's hard to know when you're ready to start trying to get pregnant after a loss. Grief and healing do not exist on a straight line, with a beginning and a clearly defined end, so knowing when you're ready to try again can be painful and confusing. That's why, in the end and always, the only person who can say when the time is "right" is the person going through this uniquely difficult experience.
I experienced my first and only loss immediately after my first pregnancy. My daughter was born prematurely, so my partner and I were only able to meet her briefly before she passed. As you can imagine, we were both devastated, and I didn’t think I would ever want to try to have another baby again. But as time pushed me forward I realized that a part of me really hoped I would get pregnant again; as if another pregnancy would fix the broken parts inside of me. And a year and a half later, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.
A part of me thought it was far too soon, but I decided to carry the pregnancy to term and, for lack of a better sentiment, "see what happens." My pregnancy was labeled high-risk so I knew I was subjecting myself to weekly doctor appointments and ultrasounds, and eventually, weekly hormone shots and an emergency cerclage. But I kept at it because deep down I knew I really wanted another baby. I met my son in February of 2014 ,and while I still miss my baby girl every single day I feel extremely lucky to be raising my little boy.
My story is just my own, though, and certainly isn't indicitive of other parents' stories. In the end, our losses and how we carry them vary from person to person, and that includes when (and if) we decide to try to get pregnant again after experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss. So with that in mind, here's when other moms realized they were ready to try for their rainbow babies:
“I guess for us it really clicked when my doctor cleared me for sex at the postpartum visit. He asked if I wanted birth control, and I said no, and he basically said, ‘OK, good luck! See ya when you’re pregnant.’ So I think hearing that it was OK from him kind of sealed the deal for us.”
“I was afraid to try, and also afraid not to. My partner has a daughter from another relationship, and I do believe that contributed to the drive to try to conceive again. Not competition or anything, but knowing someone so integral in my life got to watch their child grow [impacted my decision]. It was hard to consider that might not happen in my own life, given the trauma I had experienced, and grieving early miscarriage virtually alone. I have health considerations that put a bit of a strain on the 'waiting', as I will require a surgery that may permanently impact my ability to carry a pregnancy. There was a lot of conversation, and trying to conceive came as a facet of the grief I held. I do not grieve my losses any less, but do feel as though I am a different person with hopes for this pregnancy. We are further than I have ever made it in pregnancy before, 13 weeks today, and very hopeful to meet our child in April.”
“About seven months after our first miscarriage. I had a partial miscarriage due to an undiagnosed fertility issue, and it took almost six months from the miscarriage to fix. During that time, I had a lot of physical problems, plus two close family member were diagnosed with cancer and passed. Sevens months was right around the new year, and we finally felt like we had a fresh start to see what happened. Additionally, I had another loss about a month ago, but I’m again having some complications. We’ve decided to not discuss anything for a few months. In a few months we’ll decide how to move forward.”
“I had a missed miscarriage that was identified several weeks ago and am waiting for my D&C. I'm ready to start trying again immediately, but have been told I have to wait two months. In the meantime, my husband and I will be doing everything we can to maximize our fertility!”
“After the death of twins at birth, my husband and I knew we needed time to grieve before trying again. We agreed to wait one year. When the year was up, I didn’t feel ready at all. But I knew that I would never feel truly ready. So we started trying to conceive, and after one chemical pregnancy conceived my now 3-year-old daughter.”
“I gave birth to my twin girls at almost 24 weeks, and after we lost them I knew that I would never truly be ready again. I would have to always be ready for a high-risk pregnancy. I’m expecting another girl, and at first I was so angry at everyone and everything. was even angry at her for not being my girls. It’s been a long, difficult road, but I am excited and lucky to have her.”
“My husband and I tried for years to have a baby via various fertility treatments and finally had our son in 2015 through IVF. We didn’t think that we could have a baby naturally, but shortly after I stopped breastfeeding my son I found myself pregnant in August of 2017. We lost our baby in October (on my son’s birthday) and we knew we wanted to try right away. We ended up conceiving immediately and just gave birth to our rainbow baby two months ago.”
“Yesterday was actually the due date for my lost pregnancy. I knew I wanted to try ASAP for another baby. Perhaps to stop focusing on the heartbreak of it, and keep my eye on the prize.”
“My daughter, Acadia, only lived a few hours. She was born early because of a placental abruption that caused me to have a spontaneous delivery at almost six months pregnant. I didn't think I'd ever want another baby after losing her. But no, almost immediately between the fits of tears and anger, I had a very strong urge to have another, like everything could be OK if I just had a baby. Of course, it doesn't work that way.
As I was secretly and obsessively trying to get pregnant again, my older sister told me she was pregnant again (her sixth). Very unexpected because (among other things) she had had uterine cancer and treatment and was told future pregnancies were unlikely. I was so jealous and angry and sad. My son, Iverson, was born healthy and strong a few months after hers. And in no way did getting pregnant, again, replace my baby, Acadia, but it did help me find some light in the darkness.”
“Instantly. When my second child was stillborn, I had this immediate, intense need to have a successful birth. Not to replace her, but as an act of cleansing or healing. I needed to go back to the same hospital, to do it again, but to go home with a live baby instead of empty arms. My doctor suggested I wait a year before getting pregnant again for optimal physical and mental health. I pressed her for the earliest point at which I could reasonably get pregnant and she said I should wait at least three months. At exactly three months I peed on a stick and got a positive. I gave birth to my son a little less than a year after my daughter.
I do not regret my decision one iota, but I have to acknowledge that I was still mentally grieving for my daughter's loss and it affected my early bonding with my son. It took me a year or two to really allow myself to connect with him, and I do not remember much of his infancy."
“We lost our daughter the morning of our 18-week ultrasound. It was the only pregnancy we hadn't carefully planned for. We have a disabled son and he was undergoing multiple surgeries at the time, so the timing wasn't right but we knew we wanted a fourth child. We waited quite a number of years since our youngest at the time was only 1. We did end up having a fourth baby, a boy. My youngest is now 6, and my other children are 13- and 16-year-old twins. I still think about what would have been our only daughter.”
“I had a missed miscarriage found on the day I planned to tell our families we were pregnant, which was Christmas Eve 2013. I was 15 weeks. I had a D&E six days later, and made it my mission to conceive as soon as possible. My OB told me to wait two weeks to have sex, so I did... while going crazy with charting. I got pregnant right away. My hormone levels weren’t rising right, and my OB told me I’d likely miscarry again. I was devastated. I had some bleeding and thought that was it. Well, a month later and I was feeling really sick. I took a test it was darkly positive. Went in for a dating ultrasound and guess what? I didn’t miscarry that baby after all. She just turned 4.”
“I felt ready as my new doctor asked when did I feel ready to start trying for a family this year. I miscarried two years ago.”
“I had two miscarriages between my children. As devastating as the first one was, we knew immediately that we wanted to try for another baby because we really wanted a sibling for our first child. After the second miscarriage, we still knew we were going to try for the sibling right away, but going through that experience twice definitely made me question if we would ever try for a third.”
“Missed miscarriage discovered at 18 weeks, had the D&C about a week later, and we were told to wait two to three months to start trying again. We were still ready to have a family, so we decided to start trying again when we were physically able (and fortunately, the next time went smoothly). But I was definitely still grieving my first loss when we were trying again, and when we were newly pregnant the second time.”