“Pregnancy after infant loss.” I googled that phrase numerous times at the beginning of this pregnancy. I just kept thinking, “how am I supposed to get through another entire pregnancy knowing it could end just like JJ’s did?” I was constantly so overwhelmed by fear and by being very aware just how long pregnancy is. 40 weeks is a very long time to wait to know if the same horrible thing that happened before is happening again. We have done so much grieving and so much healing in the past 18 months and I can’t help but constantly wonder if my heart is about to go through the same shattering experience it has before.
It has been hard to get too excited about this baby girl because my brain constantly goes into defensive mode saying “don’t get too excited.” We did all of this before. We prepared the nursery, we had the shower, we organized all the clothes, and yet, we never brought him home. The boy stuff went into storage, thank you notes were never sent, the nursery stayed unoccupied. I have pictures of JJ up in my house and a box in the garage labeled "JJ Memories." How am I supposed to go through all of those things again and yet not have the lingering question in the back of my mind if it’s all going to end up the same as it did before?
I just finished reading and studying the book of Joshua. A big part of Joshua is this theme of remembering what the Lord has done. There are reminders all throughout the book to take time to mark each season and do something to remember God’s faithfulness in that season. Before this baby girl comes out, I wanted to take time today to remember this pregnancy and remember how God has been so faithful through it. I pray this is encouraging to you or someone you know going through this season.
As I have talked about before, God is always teaching me about joy and pain coexisting. We are by no means healed from the loss of sweet JJ. Every single day, I think about my son and miss him with all of my heart. I know that welcoming a new baby will not heal that pain. We will live until we meet Jesus face to face with the pain of losing our boy. I’ve felt guilty being excited about our daughter. I’ve been afraid that loving her means loving him less. I sobbed the first time baby girl kicked because it reminded me of having JJ in my belly. But, even in the midst of pain, we are allowed to experience joy. Our love for our daughter doesn’t take away from our love for our son. Our joy for this baby girl doesn’t replace the spot JJ forever holds in our family.
We have been in this season of waiting and loss for over four years. It started with waiting to get pregnant and resulted in three babies in Heaven. Over and over, I have cried out to the Lord asking “when is this Winter of death and loss going to end?” and “When do we get to experience a season of Spring and new life?”
The Lord has been so good throughout this pregnancy. At the beginning, over and over, a verse from my favorite chapter in Isaiah kept coming up in different places. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). Is He doing something new? Is he changing this season from a season in the wilderness to a season of new springs?
As I was reading through the book of Joshua, I read the story of Israel attacking Ai. They had attacked Ai and due to Achan's disobedience, they were defeated horribly. Then, God says to Joshua “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land" (Joshua 8:1). I picture Joshua saying "But Lord! They JUST defeated us!" Though I do not think that losing JJ was due to specific disobedience on our part (not that we are perfect or always obedient either), I so clearly felt the Lord telling me as he told Joshua, "I know you were defeated last time, but my plan is different this time."
Even though I think these are things the Lord is saying to me, I have no way of knowing for sure that this baby girl is going to be healthy. As I have said before, the Lord doesn’t promise us healthy babies. He promises good, but that’s His definition of good, not necessarily mine. I’m continuing to learn what it means to truly trust the Lord. I have said often when fear starts to take over that I trust the Lord completely, but I am also very aware of what He is willing to let happen. When I say I trust the Lord, I’m not saying I trust that this baby is going to be perfectly healthy, because I don’t know that. What it does mean is that I trust in His goodness. I trust that He is SO faithful. I trust that His plan is good. Ultimately, what I trust, though, is that He is genuinely all I need. I trust that if I were to lose this baby too, He is still good and He is still faithful and He is always all I need. I trust this because I have seen it to be true. I have endured this heart crushing loss and while it still hurts immensely, I have seen the faithfulness of the Lord. I have seen him sustain me and I have felt Him hold me.
So, what have I learned about pregnancy after loss? How have I learned to get through these past 38 weeks? I have learned not to do it alone. I have asked for help. My mom and my sister-in-law came over and helped me go through boy clothes and pull out clothes that baby girl can wear. They helped me sort all the girl clothes because I couldn’t bring myself to get started. My friends and family have come along side me and listened to me voice the same fears over and over. Our church has reminded us that they are lifting us up in prayer. My husband has come to every single appointment and sat in the hallway because he wasn’t allowed in due to COVID and appointments trigger so much trauma for me. I have called the doctor when I’m freaking out. I have had extra ultrasounds to check in on baby. Most importantly, I have prayed a ton and spent daily time in the Word. I have voiced my fears to the Lord. I have sat in His presence and let His truth wash over me.
There’s a song by Lauren Daigle called “Everything.” One of the lines in the song says “You tell the seasons when it’s time for them to turn, so I will trust you even when it hurts.” That has been a theme this pregnancy. My God is ultimately in control of when this Winter season transitions to Spring, when this season of death and loss turns into a season of new life. It’s not always easy to trust Him, especially when I know trusting in Him does not mean I automatically get a healthy baby. It hurts to trust Him, knowing what He has allowed to happen in the past. But, it’s good to trust Him and trusting Him in the way that He is teaching me to ultimately gives me the only peace I need when I realize that He is truly all I need. I pray constantly that this baby girl is healthy and strong and that Josh and I get to raise her. It would be completely devastating if events of the past repeated themselves. When the fear of that happening is overwhelming, I am constantly brought back to the knowledge that I trust fully in His good plan for our family and we will give Him all the glory and sing of His goodness no matter what.
Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray as we prepare to welcome this sweet baby girl any day.