the world is never ready

“How can you choose to have a child now?”

She asked me honestly, the way a wise and good friend can.

We’d spent half of dinner talking about how the world is spinning mad, careening out of control. And then she leaned over the table in flickering candlelight and asked me – me sitting there nauseous, me drinking water not wine, me wearing jeans that no longer buttoned – how we could do this again, how on earth we decided to have another baby.

She wasn’t accusatory. She was wondering, curious, maybe even baffled.

I wanted to laugh. I wanted to say I don’t know. I wanted to say that I ask myself the same question – not only because the world feels terrifying, but because we know the intimate, absolute worst that can happen. Because we have buried babies.

But what I tried to tell her was what the poet means.

The world is never ready for the birth of a child.

Neither are we.

We said yes anyway.

. . .

I’ve kept the secret for months.

I spent a year writing here from the honesty of my heart, from the vulnerability of grief. I never held back my pain, my sorrow, my longing.

But then when we decided to try again, we didn’t tell anyone. For a long time.

Truth be told, I was tempted by this writer’s story. I secretly wanted to creep toward 40 weeks and not tell a soul. Then surprise the world with a healthy baby once we could finally breathe deeply.

Of course we couldn’t keep quiet forever. (I get obviously sick and hugely pregnant and could NEVER hide a pregnancy if I tried.) But it took me weeks longer to share the news than I expected.

Why? I wondered.

Family and friends were hoping for us. Wouldn’t we want to give them joy, after they trudged through a year of grief with us?

People come to my blog every day searching for prayers for pregnancy. Wouldn’t I want to connect with their hearts?

What about all you readers, the ones who prayed our family through the worst? Didn’t you deserve to celebrate the best with us, to share in our delight?

Why wouldn’t I want to give everyone the happy ending, the rainbow baby, the dream everyone hoped for? My husband was ready to shout it from the rooftop. I wanted to hold back. (This is not the usual writerly dynamic in our household.)

Here’s why. Because it’s complicated. It’s uncertain. It’s compromised and hard. Pregnancy after loss is nothing like pregnancy before. I thought I learned this after miscarriage, but the death of children after birth is another terrible world.

When you know that babies can die, you are no longer naive.

So I didn’t know where to start. There would be no cutesy announcement. No ultrasound pictures on social media. No “surprise!” at a family party. All of that innocent fun is from a far-off planet, a lifetime ago.

All I can say to you now is the same thing I’ve been saying to you for a year.

Here is my whole heart. It is broken and still beating. It refuses to give up hope.

All I can say to you is that I’m pregnant. Because “we’re expecting” means nothing once your expectations have been ground to shreds. Because “we’re having a baby” means little when death has taken them from your arms.

But I’m pregnant. One trimester down. Two to go.

We hope. We pray.

(There’s nothing else we can do.)

. . .

We’ve been telling family and friends for the past month. Most people are over the moon; a few were surprised. You can see it in their wide eyes: why would you ever do this again? After what you’ve been through? How crazy are you?

Last fall I read a memoir by a grave-digger’s daughter: We’ll Be The Last Ones To Let You Down. At the end of the book, she describes how the baby section at the cemetery convinced her not to have children.

I drew a deep breath and closed the book.

She and I had both stared into the same abyss, the graves of the babies. And we made completely different decisions.

There is no right or wrong way. There is only your own.

And ours is to try again. One more time.

. . .

What does it feel like?

It feels as wild and unpredictable as you might expect. It feels like we are the bravest or stupidest people in the world, depending on the day or the hour. It feels alternately daunting and hopeful, overwhelming and grateful.

But it feels like the way I want to live.

To choose hope over fear. To take one step beyond terror. To look death and despair straight in the face and declare no – you will not steal my joy.

We always wanted four children. We got them, in spades, in ways wildly different from anything we ever expected. Now I nuance: I tell people, we always wanted to raise four children. We still hope that might happen. We have no illusions or guarantees.

Yet love still takes the risk of birth. 

The world is not ready for another child. It never has been. This place is a mess.

But you could make this place beautiful.

So we keep going, keep hoping, keep daring to chase a dream. Because dream-chasing is the only way to survive.

I’m pregnant again. And we’re expecting nothing but hoping for good. And we aren’t having a baby, because we already have this baby, because love works like that, it sinks its claws into you the second you say yes, and thank God, it grips fast and doesn’t let go.

Here we are. Here we go.

May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.
But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.

– from Wislawa Szymborska, “A Tale Begun”

39 thoughts on “the world is never ready

  1. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I’m thanking God for your blessing. I hope the prayers of your baby’s sister saints in Heaven will sustain you through this pregnancy and beyond.

  2. Thank you, Laura, for sharing your news and all of your hopes, fears, and uncertainties with us. Your willingness to trust again provides all of us a glimpse of hope in this difficult world. We are holding you, your husband, and all of your children in prayer.

  3. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May the Lord bring you comfort from fear and anxiety in the months ahead. Thank you for your example of faith and strength! God bless.

  4. I don’t think I have ever read a blog post that has moved me to tears as this one has. I started following your blog after your little girls went to heaven, and your writing has always moved me. Your words are so beautiful. I can only imagine the bravery it must have taken to try again after your experience. Exactly five years ago today I lost my first baby to miscarriage. Since then I have had two healthy boys and am now 20 weeks pregnant with fraternal twins. I have thought of you a lot during my pregnancy so far. Since my loss, pregnancy has never been as joyful as I wish it could be. It is always filled with fear of loss because I know all too well that it can happen at any time. This twin pregnancy for me has been almost more nerve wracking than my first pregnancy after loss. Every day I hope amd pray that in a few months we will be holding both of these babies in our arms. But I also know that my faith is weak and that sometimes (a lot of times) fear gets the better of me.

    Anyway I guess I just wanted to say that I truly admire your courage and your hope and your willingness to try again. I pray that you will also be snuggling a new little one in a few months. Thank you for sharing your story and your writing with me. I truly appreciate it.

  5. Tears of joy are brimming my eyes. My prayers are with you as you expect nothing and hope for the best with this rainbow baby. While I don’t know you personally, I follow you regularly and am sharing this joy with you, kind stranger, who has opened her heart to the world and touched mine. Your faith in the darkest of darkness reminds me to also hold on to hope. May your pregnancy be healthy and safe, may birth be smooth, and may you continue to encounter Christ’s unfailing love, encouraging you and your family every step of the way.

  6. I am so, so happy for you. I have been praying for you and your family for months, and now I will add to my prayers the health of your baby and the strength of your heart as you both heal and hope (and both of those actions require strength). So many blessings coming your way today.

  7. Congratulations Laura! I honestly had this sense that maybe you were pregnant and every time I saw a new post pop up in the last few weeks I thought “oh she will announce she is pregnant”. I am not sure why I thought that, but anyway, I am very happy for you and grow, baby, grow!!! I felt very similar when we found out I was pregnant with Katharine (6th pregnancy, only 1 live child at the time). I was so, so, very tired (not physically, just mentally) and one part of me didn’t want to say anything because if we lost her like the previous 4 precious children miscarried before her, a part of me didn’t want to have to then retell all of those same people that we miscarried again. But in the end, I choose to share and I am so glad because so many people prayed for us and really carried us through that horrible pregnancy (not horrible that I was pregnant, no, not that all, but the anxiety was off the chart and it was so, so, so hard to wake up every morning thinking it might be the last day she was alive.) I distinctly remember someone saying to us “Oh, I know for sure this baby will make it, I know it.” And I had to reply “No, you don’t. Because you know why, you said that exact same thing when I was pregnant with Anne and we miscarried her too (Anne was our 5th pregnancy, 4th loss).” I didn’t want to be rude, but seriously, sometimes people just don’t know how hard it is to be pregnant after multiple losses and I think it made an impact on this person because they never said it again during the rest of my pregnancy. So please know of my prayers for you and your family and most especially the new baby!

  8. When I let the world know i was pregnant after experiencing the loss of twins at 22 weeks, a friend wished me “love and light.” They were some of the most beautiful words that were said to me and so now I will say them to you…I wish you love and light in this pregnancy. Pregnancy after loss is not easy…but there are so many things that make it beautiful. This babe is already covered in love.

  9. Every time…every time you will be terrified, at every stage, every moment. Our prayers are here. Our prayers for your peace, your health, the baby, the pregnancy, the delivery. God has you, in the palm of His hand, and I know that’s the only way you’re getting through right now, because I’ve been there…a couple of times. God Bless you, Laura, I will be praying and making offerings for you both. (((( HUGS)))))

  10. I’ve been following your blog since the birth of your beautiful daughters. I read this post with tears of joy and the words of St. John Chrysostom’s Easter homily in my mind:
    O death, where is thy sting?
    O Hades, where is thy victory?
    Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
    Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
    Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
    Christ is risen, and life reigns!
    Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
    For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.
    To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.

    And life reigns! I will be praying that God’s peace surrounds you through this pregnancy.

  11. Laura, I’m praying for you, heart soul and mind, and for your sweet little one. Prayers for continued healing and that Our Lord will comfort your fears and anxiety as the days progress. Your gift with words, sharing, and heart are such a gift of beauty and truth in a world that truly is a mess. So much grace. Thank you for every fiat you have ever said and all the ones you continue to say. You are an encouragement, a goodness, a true beacon of light in a dark world – in your hardships and in your joys. God bless!

  12. Laura,
    Congratulations! I recently stumbled upon your blog, and am so thankful to have found it. This post hits quite close to home. I remember the uncertainty and nervousness that surrounded my “rainbow pregnancy.” It was a journey filled with much prayer and a few sleepless nights. However, I took tremendous comfort knowing that my sweet daughter was in heaven praying for her sibling. Know that I too will be keeping you in my prayers.
    Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.

  13. Laura, I’ve been following your family’s grief over the past year- holding you in prayer and also turning to your reflections on grief after our miscarriage. I could not be happier for your family – what a gift this baby is! I will be praying for a healthy pregnancy (for the baby and for you physically and you and your husband and sweet sons emotionally). This is God’s greatest gift!

  14. Much love and many prayers, sister! Always so grateful for your words and your generosity in sharing your heart with all of us.

  15. Laura – congratulations! I was the last of 8 children of which my mother gave birth. The baby before me, my “big little sister” as I think of her, was born premature at 7 months, and only lived for one day. It was a difficult birth/scary delivery for my mother- her doctor advised her to not have any more- I’m glad she did not listen to him- two years later I came along. I wouldn’t be here otherwise!

    One of my daughters, many years later, was born on the same date as my big little sister’s death, her feast day- and it made me so happy that they shared that day on the calendar. I think of her too on my daughter’s birthday.

    Congratulations again, and we will pray for you and your family and new baby!

  16. Hi And congratulations Laura! This is my first time commenting on your blog (have been reading since last year). You are truly an inspiration. I am praying for you and your family. With my last pregnancy, I prayed daily to Sts. Gianna and Jude. They seemed like the perfect duo for a complicated pregnancy 🙂 I firmly believe that it was because of their intercession that my late premie only spent a few days in the NICU with minimal complications. She is beautiful, happy and healthy. Calling on them for you. As a previous commenter said- love and light, always.

  17. Love, Light definitely, and with 3 boys, I suggest everyone add laughter!!! These are the 3Ls that I pray for my 5 children.

  18. This is incredibly joyFULL news Laura! Congratulations on being a beautiful and willing vessel to another gift from God! Philippians 4:4-7 comes to mind and will be my prayer for you… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Sending an abundance of prayers and congratulations your way!

  19. You write so beautifully. Pregnancy after a loss is an emotional rollercoaster that people don’t understand unless you’ve been through it. On one hand, you are excited and hopeful. On the other hand, you are anxious and scared because you know there are no guarantees. As a fellow Mama to a Saint in heaven, I know how you feel. Our only son was stillborn February 5, 2014. We had our rainbow baby in April 2015. She has brought us so much joy and helped heal our hearts. I will be praying for you and your new precious blessing. Thank you for being unafraid and showing grace while grieving for your sweet girls. For me, while I was pregnant with our rainbow, I really tried to “let go and let God.” I prayed that I would accept God’s will for me, whatever the outcome. I prayed that I would not feel anxious because I wanted my baby to feel nothing but love. I will be praying the same things for you. Love and hugs to you from Texas.

  20. Congratulations. We just finished our second miscarriage, no other children. I don’t know how I will ever be open to life again, but maybe someday.

    1. Hi Ari, as a longtime reader of Laura’s blog, I just wanted to say that I’m very sorry to hear about your miscarriages. I also have had two miscarriages (one was very early, and the second was identical twins at the end of the first trimester). I never went on to conceive after my last miscarriage, but one month before my babies’ due dates I adopted a beautiful baby boy who is now 9 years old. I will never stop grieving for the babies I lost, but I also can’t imagine life without my son. I know not everyone is called to adopt, and your future very well could include a live birth, but I wanted to encourage you that hopefully grief won’t be the end of the story for you.

    2. Praying for you, Ari. It is such a deep grief and a dark place. There are no easy words that bring hope; I think there is only the God that sits with us in the dark, even when we feel only absence. I will keep you in my prayers, for healing and someday hope.

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