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.
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.
– from Wislawa Szymborska, “A Tale Begun”
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.
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!
Congratulations!! Praying for you and your family!!
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.
All the very best. God bless you & feel well
Oh so many congratulations!! And so many prayers, what a beautiful post!
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)))))
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.
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!
Congratulations and God bless. You and your family will be in my prayers.