Two weeks before my 42nd birthday, I realized I was missing my period. It was gorgeous out, so I walked down to my local Target and did something I hadn’t done in 11 years—I bought a pregnancy test. We had been trying to conceive for about three years, but each month my period showed up like a bad guest—right on time and uninvited.
But this time the test lit up like a Christmas tree. We were thrilled and cautious. As it turned out, we were right to be cautious. At 13 weeks I lost the baby.
A year later, almost to the day, I got pregnant again. It was just before my 43rd birthday and felt like the best gift ever. I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself, others or the universe, but here are some of the lies I believed about pregnancy after a loss.
That it would replace the pain
I had read so many articles saying that getting pregnant again could help take the pain away, but in so many ways, being pregnant again is a constant reminder of the son I lost. Of course, we’ve now added a plethora of other emotions—excitement, joy, a dose of healthy apprehension—but I can’t help thinking about the milestones I had already set in my own head about what he’d be doing right now if he were here.
That I’d want to get pregnant again immediately
What I wanted was my pregnancy back. I wanted to go back in time and see if I couldn’t change the result, like the world’s saddest Choose Your Own Adventure. But when it came to us trying again? Sometimes it was all I could think about. Other days I couldn’t imagine ever being pregnant again. The grief is constant and cyclical—seeing a baby at the grocery store can make you want to go home and try right away or it can turn you into a puddle of tears in sweatpants.
That I could get pregnant again right away
I assumed, thanks to the internet, that I’d be able to get pregnant right away when I was ready. Yes, I’m on the older side, but we’d been told by fertility doctors that there was nothing we needed to do—all was in working order. There are tons of articles out there saying your fertility is higher immediately following a loss, but that wasn’t the case for us. My body needed time, I think, to process what happened and make itself ready for whatever was next.
That I’d never get pregnant again
Ok, so there are also a lot of articles about fertility over 40. And even though I was assured I’d be ok, there was a constant nagging that that might have been my last shot—which meant I was mourning both my loss and also my potential. We got pregnant a year later with no medical intervention (although we had gone through another round of fertility testing), so I did a lot of crying for the future I needn’t have. If there’s one thing I wish I could go back and say to myself, it’s: “focus on healing, there’ll be plenty of time to worry later.” But still, the months that passed were frustrating and scary, each one mounting on the last. I was cranky and angry and didn’t have a lot of patience with myself.
That I would be ok talking about what happened now that I’m pregnant again
This isn’t the article for it, but someday I’ll go into detail about the traumatic events of the week leading up to my loss. In many ways, it’s as difficult to process as the loss itself. Some days I’m fine talking about the child I lost, the roses I planted for him, his name. Other days I mumble when someone asks me how many pregnancies I’ve had. Or why I miscarried—which is, of course, a common question when you’re pregnant again. I’ve learned to have grace with myself no matter how I’m feeling that day.
That it was all something I needed to go alone
Because I did share my experience with friends, I learned about the losses they had and many of them ended up pregnant at the same time as me. This allowed us to share our fears specifically related to pregnancy after loss, which normalized a lot of experiences for all of us. I also realized that I often left my husband out of the loop, because I didn’t think he’d felt the loss as hard as I did—a false assumption I made based on his kindly giving me the majority of the room to grieve. He’s so excited for our son to join us (so soon now!) and we’re able to talk freely to each other about what happened. As I type this with swollen fingers, watching the kicks in my belly, I am so excited for the future and so thankful for the past that brought us here.