Pregnancy after loss is hard. There are so many doubts and fears. So much pressure to do the right thing this time. Prenatal care is treated differently. While it is a joyful time of hope and anticipation, it is also a scary time because your innocence is lost. You know that anything can happen at any time, and it is completely out of your control. All you can do is pray.
But pregnancy after loss can be hard for your children too. They saw the heartache you experienced when your baby was born too soon. They were disappointed when the little brother or sister they hoped for didn’t come home. But it can also be a blessing for them to know that there is still hope after loss.
Little Monster was 3 1/2 when we lost baby Faith. She was very aware of the loss. She had gone to every midwife appointment with me. She got excited when she heard the heartbeat. She watched my belly grow. She wasn’t there when we found out there was no heartbeat, but she knew something was wrong even before we told her. She has always picked up on others’ emotions like that. She is such a sweet, empathetic child. We explained as best we could that, just like the animals on the farm, sometimes we think we’re going to have a baby and then we don’t.
The next day we went to the hospital for the induction. My mom had come down to be with us, so she had a slumber party with my girls. For the first several doctor’s appointments after that, whenever we had childcare, she thought that she would have a sleepover. She thought maybe the new baby died. I reassured her that so far everything was ok. That we would continue to pray for a strong and healthy baby. I was sure to take her to several appointments with the new pregnancy so she could share in the joy of hearing the heartbeat.
At 32 weeks when we had our practice run to labor and delivery thanks to early contractions, the Littles came with us. Little Monster was 4 by then. That night she was so excited to meet her baby brother! But I explained that he might not come that night. As I spoke those words I hoped she didn’t think that meant he might not come at all, but his arrival would only be delayed. She continued to be excited about a birth, so I didn’t expand on the topic. She was maybe a little disappointed as we left the hospital a few hours later, but we had listened to his heartbeat on the monitor to hear that he was healthy, she got the assurance that Mommy was healthy, she became familiar with the hospital where we would eventually deliver, she was loved on by nurses there, she got to watch TV, and she got to eat in the car in the dark on the way home. In all, it was a great experience for her.
As our induction date grew nearer, we began to prepare her for what would happen. She would have a sleepover at a friend’s house. Moma would come and have a sleepover. Baby Skywalker would be born and she would come meet him at the hospital. And we hoped that he would come home to live with us.
The week before his birth we had a conversation about Jesus in heaven. She asked if he ever slept. I said probably not, since no one is ever sick or tired in heaven because it’s the perfect home. She was relieved. She was very concerned that grown-up Jesus might be sleeping on the job. She hopes He gives baby Faith boobie milk, because babies like boobie milk. She told me twice that week, ‘I hope our baby not die.’ I had to agree. Me too. I couldn’t guarantee that it would be a safe delivery because you just never know. But I chose to hope along with her.
The time finally came for us to have our baby. The girls were so excited to spend the night at their friend’s house. I know it was an anxious time for Little Monster as well. But I knew she was in good hands. Everything went well. The girls came to meet their baby brother in the hospital. They both held him. They marvelled at his tiny fingers. They counted his eyes and ears. Then Hubby took them home for their next sleepover. We told them we would be home the next day and we would bring Baby Skywalker with us.
About a week after the birth, Little Monster, out of the blue, turned to me and said, ‘I glad our baby not die.’ Me too. Me too. She has also confided that she still hopes that he doesn’t die. The thing is, what my 4-year-old has figured out, is that life is not guaranteed. We never know what is going to happen. But we can have hope. And we can share that hope. And we can face tomorrow knowing that God will love us and care for us regardless of what happens. And we can rejoice and celebrate in each new life.