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”

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39 Comments

  1. Claire on 30 January 2017 at 7:30 am

    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. Heidi on 30 January 2017 at 7:37 am

    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. Ginny on 30 January 2017 at 7:46 am

    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. Leslie on 30 January 2017 at 7:48 am

    Praying for you.

  5. Kelly Fray on 30 January 2017 at 8:01 am

    Congratulations! Wonderful news to hear on this Monday morning. Your faith is inspiring!

  6. Sarah on 30 January 2017 at 8:03 am

    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.

  7. Nell @ Whole Parenting Family on 30 January 2017 at 8:04 am

    You know the depth of our joy for you. Holding on to hope and clinging to prayers!!

  8. Amanda on 30 January 2017 at 8:07 am

    Praise the Lord! You have been ever in my prayers and will continue to be.

  9. Diana Giard on 30 January 2017 at 8:11 am

    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.

  10. Amy Anderson on 30 January 2017 at 8:27 am

    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.

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