Healing a Heart
By Sara Barry
People tell me sometimes how courageous it was for us to try again. They wonder how we knew we were ready.
We knew we weren’t ready. I’m not sure there is a ready.
I knew I wanted the chance to hold a baby of my own again. Our ages didn’t give us a lot of time to be ready. I knew that grief was an ongoing process, and also that getting past the rawest, most exhausting part of it would take time we didn’t have.
Then came March with its mud and mess, raw wind and raw emotion.
Then came March with the diagnosis of the disease the would kill my mother-in-law.
Then came March and the start of hospice care for my sister-in-law.
Then came March and my need for some sign of life.
Every March I seek out signs of life—swelling buds, shoots poking out of the cold earth, the running sap in the maples. That March was no different, but that March I needed more. In the midst of illness and dying all around me, I needed—desperately—to be working toward life.
In March, three months after my son died, my daughter was conceived. I cried when the doctor calculated my due date and it fell on the one year anniversary of the day we buried Henry.
Had I thought it through, done the math, I wouldn’t have tried to conceive then. But life and death are not logical. The time was as good as any.
I was not ready—and it was the right time.
I was afraid to hope, but I held onto that hope even as I sat in the darkness of grief, even as fear wrapped itself around me. I worried about what we had been through happening again. I worried about all the other ways I had learned about that babies can die.
In that space I needed to talk with other parents who had been through pregnancy after loss. I needed to be heard by people who understood that numbers were not comforting. I needed to share with people who understood that I was happy and excited and anxious and sad.
So many people were delighted to hear that I was pregnant again, and I appreciated their happiness for us. But it was when people recognized that we were still grieving deeply even as we opened to the new life growing within me, that I could really embrace the hope. It was when people understood how very scary it was to go through another pregnancy, that I could breathe a little easier.
Subsequent Choices didn’t exist in 2008 when I muddled my way through, but I remember Carol holding hope for me, much as the the principles of the group say:
Feeling hopeful can feel difficult sometimes. Therefore, we hold onto hope for each other. We will have confidence that each of us has the ability to bring a new baby safely into the world. Know that you are not alone.
If you are thinking about what’s next or working through a subsequent pregnancy, let us hold hope for you—and let us listen to your fears and hope and joy.