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Question of the Month
I am just feeling hopeless that I will ever hold a baby in my arms. It is just so hard to keep trying. Do you have any ideas of ways to cope and continue trying after multiple losses? I am just heartbroken.

Ann DouglasFrom Ann Douglas . . .

Holding on to hope can be a huge challenge when you've had your hopes and dreams shattered through repeated losses. After all, allowing yourself to hope for a happy outcome means leaving yourself open to heartbreak once again. The best way to cope with the anxiety is to try to take things one day at a time and to accept the fact that some things in life are simply out of your control. Letting go of the illusion of control can bring tremendous peace.

Many couples who have experienced repeated losses find it necessary to re-evaluate their babymaking plans on a regular basis -- to decide time and time again whether or not their desire to have a baby still outweighs their fear of experiencing another loss. If, at some point, the couple decides that another loss would be unbearable, they may decide to put their attempts to conceive on hold, either temporarily or permanently. This decision can be extremely painful if the woman and her partner don't see eye to eye on the issue: e.g. if she's eager to continue trying to conceive, but he's ready to call it quits. Sometimes a couple will require marriage counseling in order to work through this particular issue together. It can make for a very difficult and painful situation.

Ann Douglas

Marilyn HeavilinMarilyn Heavilin

I have not specifically walked in your shoes. I have not had multiple losses of pregnancies. I do remember the feelings I had after my 7 week old died of SIDS, however. It seemed I couldn't get pregnant again fast enough. I had always gotten pregnant easily, but not after Jimmy's death. When I did finally get pregnant, I found I was carrying twins. I was sure two babies would take away the emptiness I felt. However, ten days after the twins were born, one of them died. Shortly after that because of a serious medical problem, I had to have a total hysterectomy. The hope of having additional children was gone forever.

My son and his wife have three children, but they also had six miscarriages. My daughter and her husband have had one child in twenty years of marriage even though they would love to have a house full of children. As I reflect on our family situations, I realize we all have lived with hope, but our hope has been transferred to our immediate situations and not just the way we believed life should be.

I often advise single gals who hope to be married that they need to approach life as though they would never marry. Once the pressure is off, often times they have opportunities to marry. I don't mean to sound superficial in any way. I do remember how empty my arms felt after Jimmy died. I was so frightened I would not be able to have another child. We keep hope alive by enjoying what is here, not what we want life to be.

Much love, Marilyn Heavilin

Sherokee IlseSherokee Ilse

Hope for another child. Hope for happiness again. An ordinary and usually achievable goal under usual circumstances, but what a difficult and elusive goal following disappointment after disappointment when babies die.

Sometimes it is not possible to have hope, at certain moments and during dark days. But then what is there to look forward to; how does one get up each morning and go on with life? Instead, if we can seek out small moments of happiness and work hard at opening the windows letting the light shine in, we gain strength, see purpose in life and can eventually smile again.

Can there be hope for another baby?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Have you tried everything? Read everything? Talked with numerous medical experts? Is there more you can do? Do you dare try again, fearing that past history will be repeated? It depends on how important having another baby is to you and your partner.

If you believe that your family can only be complete with another baby, you may need to play mind games with yourself to persist at the pregnancy and subsequent waiting game. Indeed, there are no guarantees in life. No one ever promised, nor should you expect, that a living baby will be the prize at the end of the pregnancy. There is where you need to talk yourself into the hope part of life. Every life situation could turn out miserably or could turn out positively. Your experience may weigh heavier on the tragic side when it comes to having babies. If you live life worrying that bad things will keep happening, you will avoid taking risks. However, you will also lose out on the joys and love that flourish when things go well, which they often do. Life is about risk--driving down the road is a risk, loving a spouse is a risk, investing time and love in a great friendship is a risk and getting pregnant is a risk. When things go well, it is worth the risk. And for many of us, even when things go poorly we believe it is worth the risk. I would rather love and lose than never have loved at all (I borrowed that phrase, but live that philosophy.)

May I say a little about prayer here? Without prayer and my faith in God I don't believe I would have had much hope . . . and still have hope. I seek solace and support and guidance through prayer. It grounds me and helps me. I know I am still human and vulnerable and no more, or less, special than anyone else in God's eyes. Those bad things can and will still happen to me. But this is how I cope. During my subsequent pregnancies after my losses I prayed all the time. I felt it was not in my hands what happened, so I could "let go, let God" at least some of the time. I knew that if something happened I could turn to God and my support system for help and in the meantime I might as well make the most of it and allow the candle of hope to shine on my days and nights. Surely there were days I cried and worried and feared. But I would not let them happen every day. I needed the hope and my faith to survive.

Can there be hope without another baby?
Yes, if you want there to be. I know many people who never did have another baby. They eventually gave up hope for that, but found ways to live again and allow hope in their lives. Baby hugs were sometimes found through other's babies. Volunteer work, jobs, enjoying the children they did have are but a few ways people have coped and moved on. Those 'missing babies' were still missed and thought of over the years. Yes, sadness was and still probably is there. But hope for happiness, joy, beauty and love did come with positive desire, attitude and hard work. At least it can be there for most moments of many days. Maybe that is the best to hope for.

Only you can make the choice and do the hard work as to whether you will let hope and happiness back into your life.

It is my hope that you will try it believing that it can be there for you. What I want for you doesn't matter however. What do you want and what will you do about it?

Wishing you happiness and hope,
Sherokee

Additional Resources:

     
 Suggestions for Parents Following Multiple Losses Who Are Considering Another Pregnancy in our pregnancy after loss cubby
      One More Try: Pregnancy After Multiple Losses ~ a personal story

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